For Your Staff:Education
GIA's 'Colored Stone Essentials'
Our jewelry editor takes the second part of a new three-course series
that leads to a GIA diploma as an accredited sales professional. Here's
what you can expect
For centuries, colored gemstones have been used to express a wide range
of emotions. You can improve your sales skills and help your customers make
buying decisions if you're able to speak intelligently about the history
and characteristics of colored gems. As part of a three-course series that
leads to an accredited sales professional diploma, the Gemological Institute
of America now offers "Colored Stone Essentials," which provides
the foundation needed to sell gems ethically and effectively.
If you're concerned you won't have enough time to take the course, relax.
You can do the work anywhere. My course material has traveled with me on
planes, trains and automobiles here and on a business trip to Europe. All
you need is the desire to learn and the rest will work itself out.
What To Expect
"Colored Stone Essentials," which costs $349 to buy, consists
of eight reading assignments. Assignments 1, 3, 5, 6 and 8 have questionnaires
you answer and send to GIA (via fax, e-mail or regular mail). Assignments
2, 4 and 7 have self-tests you keep to help measure your progress. An Essential
Colored Stone Reference Guideis included and covers gems you'll likely
see in jewelry stores.
Each entry presents illustrations and information about where a gemstone
comes from, its hardness/toughness, stability, treatments and recommended
This assignment introduces basic terms and concepts to help you grasp the
fundamental language of colored gems. You'll learn all gems share three
traits: beauty, rarity and durability. You'll also learn color is the most
important part of a gemstone's visual appeal because, simply, it's the first
thing a customer sees. The introduction also explains gem classifications,
including species, based on chemical composition and structure, and variety,
a subcategory of species that's often based on color.
Understanding Color & Phenomena
This lesson introduces the rainbow of gemstone choices your customers have.
Learn about color's role in determining a gemstone's value and the unique
characteristics of phenomenal stones such as opal's shifting flashes
called play of color.
This section will help you help customers understand why a particular
colored gem ring is more expensive than another one because of slight variations
in hue, tone and saturation.
Clarity, Cut and Carat
Variations in clarity, cut and weight affect a gem's worth and work together
in different ways. By understanding a gem's value factors, you can understand
market decisions made by miners, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.
This assignment makes the connection between a gem's value and its journey
through the marketplace. You'll learn how a gem's source influences its
value and how consumer preference influences demand. The journey through
the marketplace will deepen your appreciation of how colored gems reach
Treatments, Synthetics, Imitations & Disclosure
Treated gems, synthetics and imitations can be confusing, and the knowledge
consumers have often comes from news stories that aren't always accurate.
Learn how to balance an effective sales presentation with full ethical disclosure.
This section gives you background on the development and marketing of
treatments, synthetics and imitations. It also explains how advancing technology
is closing the gap between what happens in nature and what's done in the
lab. As the gap narrows, the issue of disclosure becomes more confusing
as well as more important.
Durability, Care & Cleaning
Take the time to find out about the gemstone you care for in your store
so you can advise customers how to care for it at home. This is where the
reference guide is essential. You'll learn why some gemstones require special
care. For example, steam cleaning a pearl ring is a bad idea no matter how
dirty it is because pearls have a low tolerance for heat.
A retipping or ring resizing job can damage treated gemstones. For example,
the heat from a jeweler's torch can cause irradiated red or purple tourmalines
to fade or change color. In the same way, using a torch around an enhanced
emerald can cause oil or resin filler to change color or seep out.
Presenting Colored Stones
A successful sale doesn't happen by itself. This section identifies seven
steps in the typical sales process. They are:
- Approaching the customer.
- Exchanging information.
- Building value.
- Creating desire.
- Attempting a trial close.
- Closing the sale.
- Following up.
Presenting the Big 3
People have desired emeralds, rubies and sapphires just as passionately
as they have diamonds. In this lesson you will learn about this trio's history,
virtues, strengths, weaknesses and imitators.
You'll also learn the difference between information (the bare facts)
and knowledge (the understanding of how to analyze information correctly
and effectively). Throughout this lesson are exercises to give you the opportunity
to apply what you have learned.
As you make your way through the course, you'll see photos of such famous
gemstones as the first known emeralds that came from Egypt's Cleopatra mines
and the world's largest (138.7 carats) fine star Rosser Reeves ruby that
resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Excerpts from
the Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals
and Pewter Industriesare sprinkled throughout each lesson.
Test Your Knowledge
Like GIA's companion "Diamond Essentials" course, you'll need
to score 75% or better on the questionnaires to take the "Colored Stone
Essentials" exam, which is offered at GIA offices in Carlsbad and Los
Angeles, CA; New York City; or by proctor at other locations.
by Lorraine M. Suermann
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.