Selling Beautiful Gems with Ugly Names

Salespeople know that gemstones with names like bixbite, diaspore, and Paraíba tourmaline can be tough sells – not because the gems lack appeal, but because their names stop customers cold. “What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But would Shakespeare have used the soliloquy if the rose were popularly known as Rosaceae, its Latin family name? So why would we expect mineralogical names for gems to be any better? If colored stones were sold only on their beauty, we would see a greater variety of gems in retail stores. Many gems, however, do not have the fortune of having both good looks and a pleasing name. Most of these can’t even be described in terms of history or tradition, since they have been discovered within the past 30 years. They must rely on their beauty – and good

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