Professional Jeweler Archive: Luxurious Investments

June 2004

Feature


Luxurious Investments

Classic design, an emphasis on quality and larger gems continue as consumers become more educated and more demanding


Luxury jewelry is not for the average Joe. An emphasis on quality and rarity sets the sales bar high because of well-educated luxury customers. “By far, this generation of luxury client is spending more,” says David Levy, president of David Levy Diamonds & Fine Jewels Inc., New York City. “They have expensive tastes, are highly educated and can’t be talked into purchasing anything because they research it to death and know what they’re looking for.”

It’s time to adapt to this wave of change. In a world full of big-box retailers, these customers expect five-star service. “The luxury customer demands attention to detail,” says Charles Ganske, gallery manager at M.C. Ginsberg, Iowa City, IA. “Buying jewelry is no longer about the look of the piece. It’s about all the details that go into it, as well as the experience of a high-end purchase,”

Diamonds

The primary concern in luxury jewelry is originality and quality, but these customers also look for big diamonds. Consumers of luxury merchandise want a minimum of 3 carats for a center stone in D-F/VS or better quality, and they want perfect cuts. “The diamond has to justify the price, and cut is very important,” says Frank Farnsworth, president of Idaho Opal & Gem Corp., Pocatello, ID. “Because of a new emphasis on cut, a lot of recutting has occurred. This customer doesn’t care whether he looses 30% more of the stone if the cut is perfect.”

Diamond cuts garnering attention in this sector are emerald, Asscher, cushion, antique cushion, rose and briolette in white or intense vivid natural yellow. “If a customer asks for an original Asscher, the cut must be original and not a modern interpretation,” says Ganske. “Luxury customers know the difference.”

Colored Gemstones

Colored gemstone enthusiasts tend to be more enchanted by the overall effect of the jewelry than by the weight of the stone. For these customers, the piece must show quality and envelop the gem in style. Be prepared to offer certificates proving the stones are not color-treated. “This customer doesn’t want any treatments and wants proof of what he’s getting,” says Farnsworth.

Size desires depend on the gem variety. “Ruby is difficult to obtain in larger sizes, so this customer is very happy with a 2- to 4-ct. stone,” says Farnsworth. “In a sapphire, happiness is 3+ carats. Generally speaking, 5 carats and larger seems to be the crowd-pleaser.”

Important gemstones in the luxury sector include ruby, emerald, red spinel, tsavorite, tanzanite, opal and sapphire in all colors. Some buyers prefer pastels, though these are often less expensive. Cut quality, with good proportion to show the best color is paramount, and cushion and oval cuts are in highest demand.

Precious Metals

Platinum is hanging tough in the luxury sector, even with its higher price tag. “Price is not an issue – saving $1,000 on the metal is like saving $10 to these customers,” says Levy.

This season, platinum is more suited to bridal and diamond-intensive pieces than to fashionable jewelry. Where fashion is concerned, it’s 18k gold. “Whether it’s 18k white or yellow gold, customers are demanding it for their high-fashion purchases,” says Farnsworth.

Luxurious Trends

Look for the following jewelry to win over your luxury customers.

Earrings: The most important look is the traditional diamond stud with a detachable diamond drop. The luxury consumer looks for studs 2 carats each or larger.

Necklaces: The Riviera in round, oval or emerald-cut diamonds is a classic necklace experiencing a growth in popularity and size. “These necklaces used to start with a 0.50-ct. center and graduate down. Now they start with a 1.50-ct. center and graduate down,” says Levy. “Matching so many larger diamonds is much harder, but this level of clientele is willing to pay for it, so we do it – a lot,” says Levy.

Rings: Three-stone rings with fancy shapes such as emerald or oval and eternity bands in emerald or Asscher cuts are trend-setting pieces customers want. Picture-framing is a popular form of setting (diamonds are set around the center stone). This is an excellent way to remount an existing diamond with more pop.

Bracelets: Demand for antique and Art Deco bracelets is high. Alternating fancy yellow diamonds and white diamonds is a popular look for line bracelets.

– by Lorraine M. O’Donnell, A.J.P.

point of $ALE

Charles Ganske, gallery manager of M.C. Ginsberg, Iowa City, IA, offers some suggestions for providing top-notch service to luxury customers:

Pamper. These customers will seek luxury for self-definition. They look for a personal experience and are not as sensitive to price or selection as other customers. They want to be treated regally by professionals, not clerks. This is the first step to gaining this customer’s business.

Dream Weaver. Jewelers respond to and build on fantasy. You help fulfill dreams through jewelry. This is your vehicle. Sell quality first. This will help differentiate you. Luxury-goods customers are demanding and need to know why they should buy from you. They’ll search out merchandise they can’t get somewhere else.

Be a Brain. Know everything about your products, especially intrinsic value and artistic appeal. Be passionate and in love with the industry. Show that you have immersed yourself in the jewelry trade, and convey that enthusiasm to clients.

Lend an Ear(ring). High-end customers sometimes ask to borrow jewels for a special event. This trend will grow among socially connected customers who attend many formal events. Accommodate and negotiate insurance coverage for a piece while it’s out on loan – Jeweler’s Mutual, Neenah, WI, offers a policy. A loan program could help sales later, will solidify your relationship with the client and will give you more exposure in the community.

– LMO


Acorn brooch features a 13mm South Sea cultured pearl and 4.80 carats of diamonds in platinum.

Aaron Henry Designs, Los Angeles, CA; (213) 623 4228.

Photo by Robert Weldon

18-in. Australian baroque South Sea cultured pearl strand has diamond and 18k gold rondelles. Pearls measure 11-15.5mm. Suggested retail, $16,000.

Dillon Pearl Corp., New York City; (212) 869-7292, D47@aol.com.

Platinum rings feature fancy intense yellow diamonds. The top one is $55,000 suggested retail, the other one is $18,000.

Jack Kelege, Los Angeles, CA; (213) 622-1290, fax (213) 622-0363.

18k gold necklace features South Sea cultured pearls measuring 10mm-15mm and akoya cultured pearls measuring 3mm-3.5mm. 18k white gold wiggles hold 4.34 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $16,600.

Assael International Inc., New York City; (212) 819-0060, fax (212) 764-1965.

Art Deco-style picture-frame ring has 1.10 carats of Whistle-cut and trapezoid-shaped diamonds. Each ring is designed around the customer’s center diamond; the other diamonds are cut to fit accordingly.

David Levy Diamonds & Fine Jewels Inc., New York City: (866) 398-8952 or (212) 398-8952, fax (212) 398-8126, info@diamondmatchmaker.com, www.diamondmatchmaker.com.

Bracelet is set with 18.40 carats of emeralds and 6.70 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $120,000.

Ellagem, New York City; (212) 398-0101.

18k white and yellow gold ring features a 4.52-ct. mixed brilliant crown Madagascar ruby and 1.59 carats of round diamonds. Suggested retail, $50,090.

Idaho Opal & Gem Corp., Pocatello, ID; (800) 635-9800, fax (208) 233-0120.

Circling this platinum necklace are 27.80 carats of princess-cut diamonds, 5.29 carats of square diamonds and 8.49 carats of round brilliant diamonds. Suggested retail, $220,000.

William Levine Fine Jewels, Chicago, IL; (800) LEVINES.

Platinum necklace features 15.29 carats of round emeralds and 27.45 carats of marquise and round brilliant diamonds. Suggested retail, $100,000.

Eugene Biro, New York City; (212) 997-0146, fax (212) 764-4506.

Handmade platinum ring holds a 4.79-ct. oval Ceylon sapphire and 0.92 carat of half-moon diamonds. Suggested retail, $20,000.

Adasco Designs, New York City; (800) 632-6685 or (212) 819-0288, fax (212) 658-9470, info@adascodesigns.com.

The Lady Jules Audemars chronograph has a yellow or white gold case with 300 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 3.65 carats and a bezel with 1.22 carats of diamonds.

Audemars Piguet, New York City; (212) 758-8400, www.audemarspiguet.com.

The Piaget cuff model has 3 carats of pavé diamonds, 5.8 carats of different colored sapphires and black satin. A version with the bracelet entirely pavéed in diamonds and finished with 11 pear-shaped diamonds is available.

Piaget, New York, City; (800) 628-4344.

Roger Dubuis’ new Much More is made in 18k polished and satin-finished white gold set with 90 diamonds. The in-house RD 28 manual movement is a mono-push coaxial chronograph. Only 28 have been made.

Roger Dubuis, Wilkes Barre, PA; (570) 970-8888.

Levian’s new diamond watch features diamonds on the bezel and a mother-of-pearl dial. It’s available with a crocodile strap (shown) or satin strap and with a steel or gold case. The steel version is $1,495 retail, the gold is $5,795.

Levian Corp., New York City; (212) 575-0318.

New from Harry Winston’s Avenue C collection, this chronograph has 232 white diamonds on the bezel, crown and case. The hand-sewn crocodile strap has a gold buckle with 0.42 carat of VVS diamonds.

Harry Winston, New York City; (212) 245-2000.

The Langematik Perpetual allows correction of individual calendar functions (date, day of week, month and leap year) as well as the moon-phase display. The functions can be operated with separate push-pieces or collectively advanced with a single pusher. Made in platinum with a sapphire case back, it has a hand-stitched crocodile-skin strap with solid platinum buckle. Suggested retail, $54,400.

A. Lange & Söhne, Malibu, CA; (310) 317-9852.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications