Gemstones & Pearls: News
Cutting an Edge in the Competition
A small but rewarding niche
There's no shortage of retailers specializing in diamonds.
But it's a rare breed of jeweler who commits to selling only
fine color a niche offering a gamut of choices and more
opportunity to make a healthy profit margin.
"We concentrate on unique one-of-a-kind designs with
a focus on quality colored gemstones," says Mark Loren of
Fort Myers, FL. "I'm known for innovative designs featuring
high-end gems, including large fancy-color diamonds. You can
make a good dollar with fine color because it's very difficult
to price-shop. You become the only resource, and clients come
to expect this higher standard."
Loren a designing jeweler honored with several American
Gem Trade Association Spectrum and Platinum Guild design awards
during in his 16-year career uses an array of cut gems
from AGTA Cutting Edge winning lapidaries, including Richard
Homer, David Brackna and Thomas Munsteiner.
Make the Most of Vendor Relations
It's a coup for a retailer to land a Cutting Edge-winning
gem or two around which to build a custom piece. Jeff Ketay of
Ketay Jewelers, Peoria, IL, has developed a "first refusal"
relationship with a number of cutters and gem dealers during
the eight years he's been in business. "Because few retailers
are strong in color, it's a great niche to develop, and not many
pursue Cutting Edge pieces," he says. "We've had 12
to 13 Cutting Edge winners from such artists as David Brackna,
Bill Day and Steve Avery." Ketay describes American cutting
as "the finest in the world to unlock the beauty of a gemstone."
Becky Thatcher of Becky Thatcher Designs, Glen Arbor, MI,
enjoys touting the joys of fine color. Thatcher, who carries
such award-winning lapidaries as Ben Kho and Steve Walters, issues
an informative newsletter several times a year to customers and
hosts many in-store educational gem events.
Similarly, Loren often invites cutters to demonstrate their
expertise as part of a special event. "It removes some of
the mystery that cloaks our business," he says. "I
highly recommend making the most of vendor relations. Trunk shows,
especially with vendors enthusiastic about color, prove to be
a great resource."
These gem-savvy retailers say their primary ad program has
been word-of-mouth. "People are starved for unique products,"
says Ketay. Loren, Thatcher and Ketay use a variety of networking
options, from private invitations to e-mail notes to phone calls
to invite top customers in to view new items. These jewelers,
and others like them, are often located in resort towns or in
communities rich with professionals boasting a lot of discretionary
It seems the biggest challenge for this category is the limited
supply of really fine rough on the market for cutters to perform
their magic on. It's a never-ending quest for those in this niche,
but one that's what makes it all worth it in dollars and sense!
by Deborah Yonick
||Mark Loren's 2.2-ct. cushion-cut ruby with diamond
platinum ring won a Platinum Honors award and is only one of
the award - winning designs from many designers and cutters his
|Color lovers will respond to unusual shapes and
colors in pearls, as demonstrated by these dark pearl designs
from Becky Thatcher Designs.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.