Honesty and integrity have built trust between customer and jeweler that’s been unparalleled. This has kept the jeweler in good business for centuries. Recently though, I have begun to worry. Here’s why:
First, the film Blood Diamond aired some dirty laundry from the secretive jewelry world. Second, over the past few years there have been some high-profile cases concerning jewelry establishments laundering money for organized crime syndicates. Third, the jewelry industry has seen a number of high-profile tax fraud cases.
I don’t know anyone who has traded in conflict diamonds, laundered money, or committed tax fraud, and most of the men and women in this industry would never engage in those activities. But do consumers know that? How will widespread knowledge of conflict diamonds or reports of money laundering and tax fraud affect the trust we build with our customers?
To maintain trust, we must go beyond the letter of the law. Let me share some common sense.
A major retailer has a long wall covered in picture frames. Most contain pictures of employees, but some contain just one word—integrity. Integrity starts with the front line: the “company face” your customer sees. So, most important, have an ethical staff. Your employees are a reflection of you and your business.
Next most important is the knowledge you and your staff impart to customers. Training, training, and more training is the key. Train your staff to understand the Kimberley Process and any other information particular to the items you sell. Educate them on how jewelers police themselves to ensure conflict-free diamonds are in their displays and vaults. Train them to understand the Patriot Act and how jewelers are working with the U.S. government to stop money laundering for terrorists. Explain to your staff that your establishment doesn’t charge tax, but merely collects it. Once they understand these issues, they can build trust with your customers.
Third, remember that you come from a long and proud lineage. You’re a jeweler—someone who helps provide heartfelt expressions of love and thanks for every occasion. While there may be a lot of dishonesty outside your store, you know that inside you’re honest with yourself and your customers.