Chase to the Cut

For the past three years, the JCK Industry Fund has provided seed capital for the American Gem Society’s project to establish objective criteria for how well a diamond is cut. Several weeks ago at the Society’s annual Conclave, there was a town meeting on the topic with panelists from the retail, publishing, and diamond manufacturing sectors, as well as laboratory representatives from GIA and AGS.

These industry panelists offered a variety of viewpoints. The scientific discussions were somewhat esoteric for the nonscientists among us, but Mary Todd McGinnis of Ben Bridge Jewelers reflected on the basic importance—to the purchaser—of the simple beauty of a diamond. Finally, Martin Rapaport opined that the purchaser of a diamond engagement ring is so much in love that he really doesn’t know or care to know the intricacies of diamonds. Just sell the most price-competitive diamond you have, and let the couple go their merry way.

So, does cut count? Let’s look at the question from the consumer’s point of view.

In selling, a third-party endorsement can be an effective point of difference to a buyer. When diamond-grading certificates first came to the market, they provided an objective standard based on GIA’s diamond grading system for color and clarity. Cut, however, was still quantifiably out of reach. And some believed that certificates marked the beginning of commoditization.

But a consumer faced with a purchase decision involving thousands of dollars wants hard information, not just romantic fluff. Such decisions take place on two levels—emotional and rational—and both are equally important. A diamond engagement ring is a symbol of the commitment of a man and woman to each other, a symbol of their love.

But once the decision to marry is made, the rational being takes over. For example, more people are learning diamond basics from the Internet, and they come to the jeweler with basic knowledge. The successful jeweler provides consumers with the information they need, and part of that process involves understanding quality differences, pricing, and verification of information.

Successful selling involves both product knowledge and people knowledge. Product knowledge establishes a level of confidence in the retailer, so long as it isn’t pedantic, overbearing, or too technical. And the ability to read the client and close the sale with third-party objective information—such as grading reports that cover all aspects of evaluating a diamond—seems like a no-brainer.

Both AGS and GIA are on the right track to establish cut grades for diamonds. When their studies are complete, cut grades will provide one more objective standard that jewelers can use to differentiate themselves as professionals dealing with a complex and mysterious product. JCK is pleased to continue its long tradition of supporting higher levels of knowledge and training for jewelers.

fdallahan@reedbusiness.com