Scaling the Pyramid

June 1998


Scaling the Pyramid

The Diamond Promotion Service has sold more than 3,000 Diamond Quality Pyramids. Here's a look at who's using them – and how

It's been exactly one year since the Diamond Promotion Service introduced its solution to selling diamonds in an interactive world: a sleek, spinnable pyramid designed to show the hierarchy of the world's diamonds as it relates to rarity.

The pyramid adds perspective to the 4Cs, the explanation of quality jewelers use so frequently. Many diamond customers understand the four diamond quality factors – cut, clarity, carat weight and color – but have no framework for relating grades to price.

DPS identifies rarity as "the missing link" in this framework. To push better-quality diamonds, the pyramid is designed to help jewelers explain how the 4Cs work together to define a diamond's rarity.

DPS produced about 4,000 pyramids initially and is now replenishing its stock. Of the jewelers polled by Professional Jeweler this spring, 79% had the pyramid or had considered using it in their stores.

Selling Up and Up
Some elated jewelers credit the pyramids with better-quality sales. "I sold a 2.03-ct., D color marquise diamond due to the pyr-amid," says Jim Englehorn of Jack Lewis Jewelers, Bloomington, IL. The customer liked the fact that D was alone at the top of the pyramid. Englehorn also notices a move toward F colors and better since the store started to use the tool.

"It helps us to explain that 80% of the diamonds are under 20 points and show customers that rarity is greater as you move up the pyramid," says George Hurst of Hurst's Berwyn Jewelers, Berwyn, IL. Other jewelers note the pyramid is easy for customers to understand and is an excellent conversation piece to draw people into a discussion about quality.

Most importantly, some jewelers find it to be a good reference when the inevitable question arises: "Why's it so expensive?" "We can talk about rarity and it helps to explain why prices vary so much," says Debbie Lantz of The Diamond Center, Claremont, CA.

The pyramid's educational power was demonstrated during its launch at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas last year, when Harry Winston lent D-flawless diamonds to DPS to demonstrate the perfection of diamonds at the peak of the pyramid. "People kept coming by the booth and commenting that they couldn't believe how beautiful those diamonds were at the top of the pyramid," says Steve Shonebarger, director of the wholesale division at the firm. When exemplified as the rarest stones of all, the diamonds left even jewelers breathless.

Working It In
The pyramid has added a new dimension to the sales pitch, and salespeople are interpreting its use in different ways. Some findings:

  • They introduce it early on. Many salespeople refer to the pyramid at the beginning of their conversations with customers, says Diane Warga-Arias, DPS education director. They inquire about the customer's familiarity with the 4Cs, then explain the relationship between the 4Cs and rarity. Other jewelers don't incorporate the sales tool into their conversations until necessary. "I use it if they're confused about why one stone costs more than another, but we really use it only if they ask," says Neal Miller of TQ Diamonds in Madison, WI.
  • They use it with more familiar sales tools. Because salespeople are generally comfortable with the way they've always sold diamonds, the new kid on the counter has had trouble adapting in some stores. "I use a laminated sheet that we've used with the same information and that also has other information," says Carolyn Kramer of Ben Bridge Jeweler in Thousand Oaks, CA. "It's easier to show to the customer, and I've used it so long I'm used to it." Other jewelers use the pyramid as part of an overall sales package. "The pyramid plays a role in our state-of-the-art Diamond Evaluation Center," says Patricia Light of Only Diamonds, a chain based in Akron, OH. "Most of the time we use the pyramid in conjunction with a custom-designed flip chart."
  • Many use the DPS training package. "How to Sell Quality Diamonds," a training package from DPS that emphasizes rarity as part of the diamond quality discussion, is designed to work with or separately from the Diamond Quality Pyramid. Lynn Diamond, executive director of DPS, says a large percentage of stores use the programs simultaneously. "We meet Saturday mornings to train employees how to use the pyramid," says George Hurst of Hurst's Berwyn Jewelers. Steven Tapper of Tapper's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, West Bloomfield, MI, says his store has bought the pyramid but won't use it until employees undergo training.

Representing Rarity
The illustration of rarity by the pyramid is not a representation of true rarity in terms of world supply or world sales, because such numbers can vary so much from year to year. Instead, DPS enlisted a focus group of retailers and referred to the GIA Diamond Grading System to decide where grades would fall on the face of the pyramid. "People who sell diamonds have an idea in their minds of certain grades that are grouped together, and the way we placed them on the pyramid matches those groupings," says Lynn Diamond.

Nevertheless, some jewelers believe the pyramid shows middle color and clarity grades too low to be a successful sales tool in their markets. "The pyramid shows the K, L and M colors pretty far down, but a lot of people buy those colors because it's a price point they can afford," says Harold Krasner of Harold Stevens Jewelers, San Diego, CA. Another jeweler says even the G and H colors, as well as SI clarities, are shown as being "worse than they really are."

For that reason, Gary Gordon of Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma City, OK, created his own chart echoing "the spirit of the pyramid" but proportioning colors and clarities differently. Known for high-quality jewelry and diamonds, Gordon still finds J and K colors to be very popular in his market.

"Instead of representing rarity in supply, my chart shows demand,and it better represents what people want in Oklahoma City," he says. Only 8% of customers in Gordon's market buy D, E and F colors, so they're shown as the smallest piece of the scale, while lower grades are shown as larger increments. The chart still places K, L and M grades near the top of the scale.

Lynn Diamond cautions that the pyramid should be interpreted differently from other sales tools. "Jewelers who are thinking in terms of where a grade falls on the pyramid are looking at it as a different way to sell the 4Cs, and it's not," she says. She suggests using the education package to better understand the pyramid's purpose.

- by Stacey King


The four faces of rarity: the Diamond Quality Pyramid explains how the 4Cs work together.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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