March 13, 2000
Retailers catering to affluent customers know this other half likes to feel special, not like everybody else. Satisfying that desire is the focus of CherryPicked.com, a Web site that launched in early February. As the name suggests, the site dispenses with jewelry-for-the-masses in favor of a small selection of high-end, collectible colored gemstones. According to the company, four anonymous experts pick the cherries, supervised by Gerald Green and the owner of the stone-cutting firm, Reginald C. Miller.
Don't look for bargain diamonds here. One "Cherry of the Week" (the site's weekly featured item) was a rare, deep-red 3.52-carat faceted Thai ruby priced at $59,500. Shown at the top right corner of the homepage, the featured item changes each Friday an incentive for visitors to return to the site. Click on the featured "cherry" and you'll be offered a mass of data about the featured item. And it's not all hype either. In addition to describing the gem's "exceptionally intense color," CherryPicked.com notes the ruby's inclusions and admits that, because it was heat-treated, some gem collectors would pass on it.
Cherrypicked.com is low-key. The most prominent graphic isn't even a gem, but a classic engraving of a cherry tree. The company positions itself as a trustworthy educator with a pointed statement about why it doesn't do auctions: "This is not a place to pump up prices based on uneducated emotional bidding." (Listen! Does anyone hear the sound of a market being targeted?)
Click on "Treasures" and you'll be led to descriptions of additional gems in the CherryPicked.com orchard. Photographs of each item are also available with an additional click. Initial introductions to the gemstones are all text - the site designers' philosophy is to offer up gems with information rather than images.
All this information is provided by a proprietary software package called "CherryScoring" that ranks gems by their various characteristics and allows customers to search for similar items better, larger, more rare, less expensive, different colors. An image of the item can also be e-mailed to a friend.
Customers who have registered can set items aside in a private salon where they can sort, archive and compare the gemstones. The salon is also the place to make special requests. In addition, a "library" offers background information about gems. Registrants also receive an e-mail newsletter.
The company has plans to add additional, non-jewelry collectibles.
- by Mark E. Dixon