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November 1999

For Your Staff: Selling Pearls

Pearls for Every Occasion

The new Chinese cultured freshwaters don't have to compete with traditional round pearls. There's room for both

To sell the new types of cultured pearls coming onto the market, sales associates must better educate their clients, according to Eve Alfillé of Eve J. Alfillé Ltd., Evanston, IL. She spoke at a seminar on marketing pearl jewelry in the new millennium during the Gemological Institute of America's recent International Gemological Symposium in San Diego, CA.

Everything about the new non-round pearls is different and presents enormous opportunities for new designs, she said. As a culture, Americans like symmetry, which explains the long love affair with perfectly round pearls in classic styles. However, women can be taught to like asymmetry, a feature in so many freshwater pearls and pearls from American sources, she said. Women over 40 are especially open to considering asymmetry, she said.

Long an advocate of creating pearl collectors, Alfillé, a retailer and designer, spoke of introducing classic rounder pearls to young women and then helping them move up to more complex styles as they get older. Strong ties to fashion also help sell pearls too.

While Alfillé initially saw affordable, high-quality Chinese pearls as a threat to more expensive pearls, she said women will still choose higher-priced pearls for symbolic reasons. A woman just starting her first job, for example, may want a fine strand of akoya pearls with exceptional luster because it symbolizes she is grownup and more discriminating in her tastes. This doesn't mean she won't also want fashionable, lower-priced pearls, but she'll choose them for different reasons. Sales associates should make it a goal to link various pearl styles to different moments in a woman's life.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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