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Commentary: The Business

Daniel R. Spirer: A Challenge to Suppliers: Pitch Quality Not Price

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The Business: A Challenge to Suppliers: Pitch Quality Not Price

I sell diamonds based on what they mean to my clients. Why can’t wholesalers?

BY DANIEL R. SPIRER

Published in the October 2012 issue

I’m sick and tired of diamond wholesalers trying to sell me on price. There, I’ve said it. I’ve said what no one seems to want to hear, even though I tell them this over and over again.

Every month, articles and blogs are written about how retailers have to romance the stone when selling diamonds. They talk about how it’s better not to compete on price. They tell us as retailers to not pull out the cert first, not to hype the grading end too much, not to sell on price.

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So why is it that every diamond supplier who calls me says exactly the same thing to me: “I can get you the same thing for less money”?

In fact, they can’t because I sell a branded diamond and they can’t sell me that brand. And in fact, if we are going to sell diamonds as something more than a hard crystal with a piece of paper attached to it, then they can’t really provide me with the same thing for less.

I sell a unique jewelry product since I make it all myself. It’s a high quality product using only top end (branded) diamonds and colored stones in high-karat gold or platinum. It’s well made. The designs are mostly unique. The stones are exquisite. And I don’t sell a bit of it on price.

I sell it based on what it will mean to the customer, how it looks on them, how they interact with me and on the importance they place on getting a hand-made, locally made, environmentally sensitive product.

I don’t bring up price when I’m selling until the customer does, and I am very upfront about the fact that my prices are higher than what they might pay elsewhere. I still seem to be in business. Do I sell to everyone who walks in? Absolutely not, nor do I want to, because if I did it would mean I was under-pricing myself.

So let’s look at what I sell. I sell myself. (They know how I feel about my product and that I’m making it.) I sell my top, top quality branded diamonds and fine colored stones. I sell beauty. I sell romance because a good percentage of my business is engagement and wedding bands.

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I do not sell price. I don’t think there is a single business consultant in the jewelry industry who would look at this as if it’s a bad thing.

So why is it that on the wholesale end the only thing the salesmen want to talk about is price? I buy based on quality, relationships with vendors and what I know will be well received in my shop. So why do they keep trying to sell me on price?

I’m pretty certain the first new supplier who can figure out how to sell me without using price will probably get some business from me. But I’m equally certain this pricing issue has become so ingrained in the industry (mostly to our detriment) there isn’t much hope anyone will be able to do that.

Daniel R. Spirer is a graduate gemologist and owner of Daniel R. Spirer Jeweler in Cambridge, MA. E-mail him at [email protected].

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