Word Play

June 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Word Play

The way you describe gem-set jewelry can make customers want to own – or avoid – it

The words you use to describe a gemstone can determine whether you make the sale. Words conjure up images, add romance. Your client doesn't just want a sapphire, she wants to feel good about wearing it, to know stories about it, to have more of a personal connection.

"Words trigger memories of experiences and feelings we find pleasurable," says Cynthia Marcusson of Cynthia Reneé Co., Fallbrook, CA. Marcusson is a gem supplier, educator and marketing consultant for color.

Colored gems present myriad opportunities to describe jewelry sensuously. Raspberry rhodolite, butterscotch garnet, sunflower citrine, cranberry tourmaline and mocha zircon are all delicious adjectives that help connect people to color.

"You've got to name it after a flower, a fruit or a drink," jests David Dyer of Precious Gemstones in Zumbrota, MN. Other industries do it; particularly the fashion and cosmetics industries. This isn't an invitation to deviously manipulate consumers by using words carelessly or without substance. It is, however, a proposition to tickle the imagination.

"Marketing with colorful adjectives is the reason most retailers like color over diamonds," says Eric Braunwart of Columbia Gem House/Tri-Gem Designs, Vancouver, WA. "It brings romance back to jewelry." Braunwart has trademarked several brand names to help jewelers excite customers with color. Tri-Gem markets jewelry with names such as Citrus Sapphire, Grape Garnet and Spice Pearls (Chinese freshwater pearls in a spice rack of colors).

One Step Too Far
When choosing words, be careful. "'Killer' is a horrible word, especially as our society is more violent," says Marcusson. "A killer ruby sounds like a summer movie. I also react negatively when someone says a ring is to die for; to have a ring to live for is my belief."

Neither should you call your gems stones. "The Stones is an aging rock band particularly popular in my youth," she says. "Stones are also found on the beach and sometimes in your kidneys. Women don't want a stone around their neck; they want a fine gem adorning their body. Give your gems the respect and aura of enchantment they are worthy of."

Here are some other tips:

  • Shade. Some gems have light tones, such as aquamarine, morganite and kunzite. Don't say they are pale because that's such a negative word in our culture, summoning images of sickliness. Say they are soft, delicate, pastel, glowing or subtle, she suggests. The same goes for gems that are very dark. Instead of muddy or inky, try rich or over-color.
  • Shape. Try voluptuous instead of fat when describing a pear shape. And don't use big bottom to describe stones with deep pavilions.
  • Texture. Here's an opportunity to find emotionally packed words. "Light through a ruby looks like red velvet, while light through a red spinel looks like red satin," she says. "Both gems, set with diamonds in platinum, look like roses in glistening snow."
  • Inclusions. Explain how they grew in the gem over time. "Inclusions show the gem's relationship with the earth," she says. As an example of how the apparel industry handles this, Marcusson notes the tag on an $850 Donna Karan silk jacket reads: "The slight imperfections are characteristic of this yarn and in no way are to be considered as defective but add to the luxury of a fine silk garment."
  • Treatments. Call them enhancements. The word treatment brings to mind chemotherapy, she says. Also avoid adjectives such as cooked, nuked, burnt or zapped to describe an enhancement process.

Chosen carefully, words will excite, allure and inspire consumers to own and collect gem-set jewelry.

– by Deborah Yonick


Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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