The World of Gems

Lateral communication in color language.

Joseph Menzie at his desk examining colored gemstones

Here’s the scenario. One of your customers wants to buy a sapphire ring as a birthday gift for his wife. You call your supplier and ask for several stones on memorandum.

Sounds straightforward enough, doesn’t it?

However when you communicate your customer’s wishes to your supplier, are you as precise as possible? If you are not, you may have to ring up a no sale, as well as carry the burden of return postage and insurance costs.

For example, can you describe the colors of Kashmir, Burma, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Thailand, Montana, or Australian sapphires? If your client wants a lighter blue Ceylon stone, do you also know which quality he wants? Will it be a commercial, decent, fine, or gem grade piece?

When he describes stone size to you, are you both using the same units of measure–millimeters or carats? And when you compare stone sizes, do you clearly make the distinction between a one carat diamond which, because of its higher density factor, will be smaller than a one carat sapphire?

As the crucial link between your customer and your supplier, you must communicate as accurately as possible, the color, cut, quality, size and price your customer desires–not an easy task.

The crucial point of the sale occurs at the initial meeting with a customer, when you must meticulously gather all of the pertinent information.

There may be more ways right at your disposal to compare color and clarity than you realize. For example, show customers other rings with the right hue, clarity and brightness even though the stone may not be the right size or shape.

It is also vital to deal with knowledgeable and reliable suppliers. The ongoing didactic relationship between retailer and supplier does not happen overnight. It takes time to build up the relationship, but that interaction is necessary to protect your customer’ jewelry treasures.

In the world of colored gemstones with changing styles and prices and new stones and sites being discovered worldwide it is impossible for retailers to have all the answers.

But, I honestly believe that until we can narrow down our color language to universally understandable terms, you will have to brainstorm your suppliers to come up with the right description of the best stone for your customer.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. With continuing efforts at communication, we can clarify the knowledge we have in common.

And finally, don’t lose sight of what one of the oldest industries of all dime dictates–beauty. In the United States, more so than in Europe, we are beginning to enjoy the tremendous variety of colored stones. If you have a love and appreciation of what you are showing–despite its price tag–you should have no problem communicating one of the critical elements of making that sale–beauty & enthusiasm.

Remember, if you do not know how Colombian, Brazilian, or African emeralds differ, or if you want to describe Tsavorite, Malayan, Spesseritite, Rhodolite, or Pyrope garnets, you just have to pick up the phone and call (212) 382-1200 or contact me by email