The Colored Stone Experience

“I like the terms ‘branding’ and ‘transparency,’ but we need to bring it into reality,” Cap Beesley, president of the American Gemological Laboratories in New York, told an audience during his Wednesday educational session at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas titled “The Colored Stone Experience.” To do this, he said, “We have to look at colored stones from the client’s perspective.”

Beesley advised retailers to make it a buying experience. “Place yourself in the customer’s position,” he advised. “Ask yourself, what are they looking for?”

He also said retailers should know what they have and be ready to talk about color with their customers. To that end, he had this advice about buying gems: “Treat it like you’re buying it for your mother, your sister, your wife, your girlfriend.” That will force you to know everything you can about a particular gem. This again can then translate to your client. “Become the expert,” said Beesley. “Take a trek. ICA has one every couple of years.”

Beesley spoke about trips to Kenya and Tanzania. Such trips can help retailers become more aware of what it takes to find a gem of quality. “You have to develop a different appreciation for color,” he said.

Beesley described going into the tsavorite mines with Campbell Bridges, a mineralogist who discovered the gem in Kenya. Descending into the mine, more than 100 meters down, and digging in the dirt only to find little or nothing, provides a whole new perspective, he said. Beesley also reminisced about taking students to Maine to dig for tourmaline. “They were thrilled to find just a tiny bit of color,” he said. “And it gave them more respect for the fine-quality tourmalines.”

But preparing yourself and your staff takes planning. “Make a plan, and then execute the plan,” said Beesley. “Train your staff. Tap your resources, such as suppliers and organizations like JA or ICA. Tap the lab. Or tap people who are experts, like emerald expert Arthur Groom. And focus. Focus on topics like U.S. gems or birthstones.”

He continued, “Develop connoisseurship, by creating the colored stone mindset. Enable your staff to know what information the client needs.” This includes knowing how much information is really necessary. “There is a lust for information. You may not have all of the details, so make sure you have a way to get that information to your client. It is all about assisting your client to make that wise choice.”

Beesley said transparency and full disclosure can bridge the confidence gap. “You build trust,” he said. “Like diamonds, add third-party documentation to your sales presentation.”

This addition to the information you’ve already presented can help distance yourself from the pack.