We all know that this recession, as well as rapidly
increasing material prices, has led “fine” jewelers to try things that they
wouldn’t ordinarily—buying gold from the public, for example, and stocking silver and charms.
Now, generally, I thought these were good moves, as they brought jewelry stores
into contact with a broader range of customers. It also showed that a few of the
old categories in our sometimes-stodgy industry were breaking down.
However, today, I was talking to a diamond manufacturer who told me about a so-called fine jeweler that was stocking cubic zirconia, partly in
response to rising diamond prices. And perhaps it’s my background covering the
diamond industry, but this gave me pause. This struck me as different than carrying lower-quality diamonds and even moissanite.
Now, granted, there is nothing really wrong with this;
retail should be about giving customers what they want. But I wonder about it
from a marketing standpoint. After so many years of the industry touting the
superiority of diamond over cubic zirconia, what kind of message does this
send? After all, someday this recession—and the rise in metal prices—will end.
But the consumer perception of the store could be forever