'KISS' Up to Bigger Sales

May 1998

Four Your Staff: Selling Gemstones


'KISS' Up to Bigger Sales

The simple acronym KISS seals your gemstone sales success


Margin. It's what makes or breaks a business in a competitive environment. So it's no surprise jewelers worried about the 10% or so margins they get on diamonds welcome the keystone or triple keystone prices they get for colored gemstones.

But it's not just a matter of putting a few colored gems in your showcase. To compete with the jeweler down the street and the increasingly informative home shopping programs and World Wide Web, you'll need to make a commitment to succeed in this category. However, the rewards are there for the taking.

Jewelers who do well with colored stone jewelry offer Professional Jeweler readers a few hints on selling color intelligently. Their advice can be summed up with a KISS, an acronym for knowledge, instruction, selection and stock.



It's important to have an enthusiastic admirer of color on staff, preferably a gemologist. Having a self-reliant, excited staff is power. "We are a custom shop and have six designer goldsmiths," says Linda McGill, owner of Jewelsmith in Durham, NC. "We know how to buy colored gemstones the right way, and we buy what we love. A lot of people say they do poorly with opals. We do well because we love them, and we know everything there is to know about them."

Rock Hard, owner of Rock Hard Fine Jewelry Diamond Cutters and Importers, Pensacola, FL, says knowledge of gemstone durability and optical characteristics goes a long way toward marrying the needs of a gemstone with jewelry design. Hard often uses gemstone rough to instruct and excite customers about a gemstone's origins. At his store, customers also can watch the cutter, jewelry designers and goldsmiths at their workstations. "I get people from all over the world who tell me they have never seen a jewelry store like ours," he says.



Keep your staff informed about colored gemstones, including interesting facts about individual gems. Better yet, have a self-informed staff. Hard says he has two staff gemologists and a diamond and colored stone cutter with 30 years of experience. At McGill's store, customers are encouraged to talk with the designers or goldsmiths because it results in a better exchange of information. It creates a synergy where everyone learns from one another.



"Purchase fine color of anything you wish," says Larry Pioli, owner of Spun Gold Jewelers in Brandon, FL. It doesn't have to be expensive per-carat material such as ruby or sapphire, but could be a gemstone like amethyst.

Hard's store is designed to excite consumers and make them want to learn more about gemstones. "I have cases dedicated to the different gemstone species," he says. His sapphire case shows the whole spectrum of sapphire varieties, as does his tourmaline case. The gems are mounted in jewelry that best represent the stones. Customers see at a glance there's a lot more to choose from than just one color.



Color sells itself if it's pretty, but you have to let customers know where it is in your store. "If you don't show it, you can't sell it," says Joseph Montanari of Montanari Fine Art Jewelers, Kansas City, MO. "Jewelers need at least a base inventory, and we have a considerable one which we own outright. We only memo for special requests," he says.

Quality is important also. Well-displayed colored stone jewelry, unique design that complements the gemstones and exceptional cutting go a long way toward becoming silent sales partners in your store. At Jewelsmith, McGill's staff wears the store jewelry. "I have sold a lot of jewelry that I wear because people can see immediately how something looks on," she says.


by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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