Merchandise / Gemstones
The Future Is Green
Eternity Natural Emerald, a new brand, plans to revitalize the category
BY ROBERT WELDON, G.G.
Retailer Richard Buttermore enjoyed a very green Christmas thanks to a promotion featuring a new brand called the Eternity Natural Emerald. Loose emeralds and emerald jewelry totaling $4.5 million bedecked his Parkersburg, WV, store for three days in mid-November, after which he made emeralds a primary showpiece for the season and was rewarded with a surge in profits.
Its hard to estimate our margins just yet because we still have a few sales waiting to be consummated and special orders waiting to be delivered, he said as this issue went to press. We made at least a keystone markup on every Eternity Natural Emerald we sold.
The star of the three-day show: a 50-ct. museum-quality emerald that, on the last day of the show, helped to attract the most traffic Buttermore has seen in his store in 30 years.
Enhancing the Stone
Behind the new line is Arthur Groom of Ridgewood, NJ, a veteran emerald buyer and wholesaler whose team of associates has been engineering the comeback of emeralds for over a decade. Initial efforts centered on developing an emerald enhancement for the trade. Groom says the treatment has been perfected to the point where he offers a lifetime guarantee for its stability and permanence.
Groom made headlines a decade ago with revolutionary enhancement technology that removed previous treatments including cedarwood, Palma and other oils and resins from surface-reaching emerald fissures and replaced it with ExCel (originally called Groom-Gematrat). The aim is
to improve transparency and overall appearance (Professional Jeweler, July 1999, page 35).
From the beginning, Groom focused on providing a stable and repeatable enhancement that could be identified readily and backed with a lifetime guarantee. This was a crucial advancement in an industry sector once hobbled by enhancements that leaked or discolored.
Because other treatment procedures were well-entrenched, Grooms advancements didnt catch on immediately. A few dealers who bought into the concept have stood by it since its inception, and acceptance has expanded from the mine to retailers. Today, several gemological laboratories laud ExCel for its durability and suitability to emeralds. In fact, one New York City auction house wont sell an emerald unless its guaranteed to be treated with ExCel, says Groom.
Romancing the Stone
Groom is now focused on branding the emeralds he processes and sells. Groom and his team named their product the Eternity Natural Emerald because of the gems natural origin and stable enhancement. He enlisted Ed Coyne, president of Coyne Enterprises Inc., a marketing firm in Great Meadows, NJ. We conducted a market study with several dozen women and found they really love emeralds, says Groom. Adds Coyne, Age hardly matters; they all love green.
Because emeralds tend to appeal to jewelry connoisseurs and sophisticated women with seasoned buying power, jewelry was designed with that market in mind. (Buttermore says men also love the Eternity Natural Emerald concept when buying gems for their wives.)
The brand and three-day promotion at participating retailers include these components:
Product Integrity. We want to control our destiny so we own all of our goods, know exactly where they came from and know what they might have been enhanced with originally, says Groom. We recut and refurbish as needed.
Finished Jewelry Integrity and Diversity. Loose emeralds comprise roughly half of the $4.5 million in merchandise displayed in stores during the three-day promotion, allowing jewelers to design custom jewelry on the spot. Of the rest, Groom manufactures some finished emerald jewelry and teamed up with Bergio. a jewelry manufacturer in Totowa, NJ, to come up with half a dozen new designs. He says other manufacturers will join the program soon.
Jeweler Fit. Groom seeks retailers who are experienced in selling color, who can generate over $1 million in annual sales and who have attractive, well-sized stores. He provides confidential grading sheets and pricing guides. Natural Eternity Emeralds enhancements are backed with lifetime guarantees, transferable upon sale.
Thinking Eternity Emerald. To energize sales associates, Grooms team visits the store in advance to coach them on emeralds, treatments and how to sell emeralds. Weve got world-renowned gemological experts such as Bill Hoeffer who are good at training, he says. We believe that knowing the product and selling with authority is the most important part of the selling process.
To Market. We provide color postcards for direct mailing, images for billboards and consumer brochures, says Groom. He also offers co-op dollars for radio and TV ads.
At each store, customers can fill out a form to name the 50-ct. emerald that is the centerpiece of the three-day promotion. One name is drawn at each store to receive a $2,500 emerald necklace. The emerald will be named from among the winning entries at each store and then will go to the Smithsonian Institution to be placed on prominent display for a year.
- Arthur Groom & Co., Ridgewood, NJ; (201) 670-4010, www.eternitynaturalemerald.com.
||The Eternity natural emerald celebrates the gems natural origin and the durability and stability of its enhancement. Courtesy of Arthur Groom & Co. Photo by Robert Weldon.