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Retailer turned color gemstone consultant Jim Fiebig, of SellMoreColor.com, encouraged jewelers to explore more color in their inventory. He said the current shakeup in the economy is the perfect time to explore new materials.
Fiebig began his “Profit From Passion: Get Excited About Colored Gemstones and Pearls” seminar with a startling statistic: Of the $68 billion global gemstone and jewelry industry, colored stones account for only 10 percent of sales. “That means 90 percent of those billions are spent on diamonds, gold, and silver,” he said.
Fiebig faulted jewelers for losing the romance of colored stones, and he cited salespeople’s zealous demonstration of their G.G. credentials as romance busters. “Specific gravities and refractive indices don’t sell gemstones,” he said.
Whether a retailer is selling diamonds or colored stones, the same three questions are in the mind of the customer: What is it? How much does it cost? Why? “The ‘Why?’ is where selling the romance of colored stones comes in,” Fiebig explained.
Legend and lore stir romantic notions, but Fiebig placed equal weight on the exotic corners of the world where gemstones are found. Retailers who travel to those destinations can take pictures, he said. “Chances are a typical customer would cherish that image and share the story of their retailer who purchased the gemstone at the source.”
Fiebig encouraged store owners to network with retail peers to source from small, independent colored stone vendors who are reliable and trustworthy. “Once you’ve established a good rapport with these vendors, be sure to ask them to contact you first when new materials are sourced,” he said. “That way you can contact your customers with exclusive offers to see what’s new at your store.”
Once retailers have decided to sell more color, it’s time to promote it. The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) has a library of studio-quality images of colored stones for $100 per image. (ICA executive director Barbara Wheat says retailers who buy more than one image can get a discount.) The American Gem Trade Association has images of finished jewelry set with colored stones.
One of Fiebig’s clients developed some innovative ways to sell colored stones. Nancy Schuring, president of Devon Fine Jewelry, Wyckoff, N.J., holds “Geminars,” where customers learn more about colored stones.
Schuring also created direct mailers listing the 88 colored stones she sells. These cards have boxes, and the top colored stones are checked. Text includes a call to action for customers to come into the store to continue working down the list.
Fiebig concluded with gem buying tips. He mentioned a new green garnet coming out of northern Madagascar, noting that gem materials from the African island nation are embargoed because of a recent coup d’état, “but some material is finding its way to the market.” He also said, “Spinels are really hot.”