Four Your Staff: Selling Gemstones
'KISS' Up to Bigger Sales
The simple acronym KISS seals your gemstone
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
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
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
"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
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,"
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.