Can You Dig It?: Editor’s Letter, November 2014

If you keep up with the news on, you’ve probably read about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark. It’s the world’s eighth-largest diamond reserve and the only one open to the public. Moreover, the park, located atop an eroded volcanic pipe in southwest Arkansas, has a finders-keepers policy that has benefited a number of lucky prospectors over the years, many of them little kids who’ve gone on to sell their raw treasures for thousands of dollars.

At the end of September, I decided to give the whole digging thing a go, and persuaded my boyfriend, Jim, to come with me. If little kids were routinely unearthing rocks exceeding 3 cts., it couldn’t be that hard—could it?

I’m here to tell you that, indeed, it could. In addition to a crash course in gemstone mining, the experience gave me a new appreciation for what professional miners put up with (Mother Earth is mighty capricious!) and why diamonds are so pricey. After several hours of backbreaking work under a relentless Arkansas sun, we brought our little tin of rocks to the park’s gem and mineral identification desk. Alas, all we had to show for our toil were tiny flecks of jasper, quartz, and, er, Tums, aka calcite.

James S. Sullivan
Sifting through the gravel at Crater of Diamonds State Park, looking for that very elusive treasure. (It must be there somewhere!)

As we concluded our day at the crater, I overheard a fellow digger say to her husband, “I guess you’re going to have to keep getting my diamonds from the store, Honey!”

Aaaaamen. After speaking with Itay Berger, president of Charlotte, N.C.–based Diamonds Direct, I know where I’d start my diamond sourcing. In “Counter ­Intelligence,” a roundup of innovative retailers who share their secrets for success, Berger tells JCK about the strategy that helped his company prosper during the recession. In short, it all boils down to inventory: Offer clients a robust selection of diamonds, and they’ll be hard-pressed to resist.

With inventory, however, comes responsibility—for safekeeping. That’s where our next big feature, “Everything You Need to Know About Jewelers Block Insurance,” a primer on the ins and outs of insurance coverage, comes in. Longtime JCK contributor Martha C. White has read the fine print of various jewelers block policies and breaks them down to the need-to-know basics.

Senior editor Jennifer Heebner does much the same thing in “How to Upsell Bead Buyers With Sophisticated Silver,” which surveys some of the country’s leading salespeople to find out their favorite up-selling techniques when it comes to silver. (Hint: Don’t under­estimate the power of simply paying attention. Notice what a customer is wearing and suggest pieces that will complement her wardrobe.)

As the holiday season begins in earnest this month, paying attention—to your customers, your merchandise, your decor, your everything—will take on greater urgency. The sales forecast, according to the analysts quoted in Jewel Box, looks pretty darn good. But like my effort to find diamonds in the Arkansas dirt, there are no guarantees.

May prosperity and providence be yours this season. Happy holidays!

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