Professional Jeweler Archive: CZ to Suit Your Fancy

August 2004

Diamonds/News


CZ to Suit Your Fancy

Fancy-shaped cubic zirconia sells briskly for an enterprising retailer


One retailer is reaping the benefits of enhancing cubic zirconia’s role as diamond’s Great Pretender. Wink Jones of Winfield’s in Boise, ID, has CZ cut to mirror well-known fancy diamond shapes such as Asscher, Regent and Flanders.

“After 9/11, a client who normally spends about $5,000 a year on diamond jewelry for his wife confided he couldn’t spend as much that year, but he still wanted something she could enjoy. We thought of CZ. The sale went so well I offered the same service to other clients.”

CZ sales grew with his exposure on the Internet and his presence in gem and jewelry chat rooms. “Very soon I was doing some $10,000 a month retail in CZ jewelry sales” and had gained clients from as far away as Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, says Jones. Over time, CZ took over less profitable areas of his business.

Imargine That!

Sales are one thing. Margins are another, and here is where the magic occurs, Jones says. “I get better than keystone margins on CZ jewelry,” he says. “I set CZ in really nice mountings that would normally be reserved for diamonds. That brings the cost down considerably while keeping up the quality and the look of the jewelry. It’s opening up a new market for me.”

The key, he says, is to be upfront about the product and let customers know they can easily substitute a real diamond when they are ready.

CZ sales have provided Jones with the capital to buy other things he wants for his business at more favorable prices. “I can buy diamonds and pay for them immediately,” he says. “For suppliers who’ve gotten used to 60-90 day payback periods, I’ve become their buyer of first choice.”

Cultivating the Persona

“I tell clients CZ has a certain fragility compared with diamonds,” says Jones. “I discourage setting CZ in channels or in platinum because the stones are more prone to breakage.”

He also focuses on the highest-quality in all natural products – EightStar and other branded diamonds, colored gems faceted by well-known U.S. cutters – so customers trust him even when they’re shopping on a budget. He has two Web sites that help spread the message of quality.

Jones has also gotten to know some diamond dealers whose names and designs he uses in CZ. “I heard someone was selling a Regency cut in CZ, and then I found it on his Web site,” says Cary Howowitz of Horowitz & Atlass LLC, New York City. At the time, Horowitz & Atlass owned the patents and trademarks to the Regent cut diamond design. “At first I wasn’t keen on the idea, but then someone suggested I was certainly not losing a $5,000 diamond sale to a $50 CZ. I realized it’s a whole different market, so I decided to speak with Wink.”

Jones, who didn’t know about the patent, offered to retire his Regent CZs. But as the two spoke, they instead devised a licensing agreement under which Jones pays Horowitz and Atlass a fee for every Regent CZ he sells. “It was a great solution,” says Horowitz. “Our design is being recognized and its appeal is being broadened. From a legal perspective, it’s a good way to protect the patent because it shows someone is willing to pay a fee for using our design.”
At the JCK Show-Las Vegas in June, Horowitz and Atlass debuted a new cut called The Jubilee (see box at right). Will the Jubilee be available in CZ? Jones and Horowitz have already worked out licensing agreements, and an entire flock of Jubilee CZs will be available shortly.

u Winfield’s, Boise, ID; (208) 344-0800, www.freecz.com or www.winkjones.com.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Fancy-cut CZs (clockwise from top left) include radiant, Asscher, Flanders, princess and Ideal round. Photo by Robert Weldon.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications