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Do I Need to Disclose a Diamond’s Dark Past and More of Your Questions Answered

How formal is too formal for bridal-focused jeweler?

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Do I have to disclose to a customer that a secondhand diamond came from a failed marriage or any other fact that may hurt its resale price?

From a legal standpoint, not at all, says Jo-Ann Sperano, a mediation specialist and paralegal at the Jewelers Vigilance Council. “When it comes to (legitimately acquired) diamonds, you are responsible for detailing the quality of the diamond, not where or how you received it. If the diamond needs polishing, naturally you would make it look like new with no signs of wear. That’s about it,” she says. Philip Johnson, the CEO of haveyouseenthering.com, which deals in pre-owned rings, tells his customers to keep in mind that diamonds have long histories. “All diamonds are old, billions of years old to be exact, so purchasing a pre-owned diamond is one that is a billion and five years old,” he says, adding that it’s really up to the couple to infuse the stone with memories and karma from the life they build together. If you think a notorious stone really does have bad back story that will upset a customer, have it recut. No more ju-ju.

Should I use co-op advertising to support my bridal sales?

It’s a question we receive often, especially with regard to wedding lines. And our answer remains unchanged: Everyone’s situation is different. Do your customers often ask for a particular brand? Will the message enhance your position in the market as the place to go for wedding rings? Bottom line, this is not free money. If you’re paying for half of the advertising cost, at least be sure half the message is about you.

Is it true you need to dress conservatively to sell bridal, especially big-ticket diamonds?

To be sure, Italian chandeliers, a baby grand piano and a staff dressed to the nines can add to the special air that supports a $100,000 ring sale. And maybe they will just scare away a nervous young man with $2,000 in his pocket. So, first thing, figure out who you are selling to. The average 28-year-old bridal shopper may gravitate toward the father figure in a suit and tie, or he may be more comfortable chatting with a younger guy who dresses more like he does — say, dark, fashionable jeans and a collared shirt. “This clientele is really expecting to be given information by people they trust,” says jewelry stylist Michael O’Connor. “And they don’t necessarily trust or relate to that older-style, conservative dress. They want to trust someone who is their peer.” That could mean Hawaiian shirts, cowboy boots, black T-shirts and tattoos … you name a dress style and we can name a jeweler who has succeeded with that approach. Still, if you’re unsure, sales trainer Shane Decker believes it’s better to err on the side of too formal than not formal enough: “Young bridal shoppers still expect you to look good, no matter how old you are.”

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A customer bought a $10,000 engagement ring six months ago, but they’ve decided not to go through with the wedding and he wants his money back. What should we do?

Consult your store’s policy manual … and if you find a blank entry under “Returns,” give yourself a kick. This is one of those issues all jewelers will face in their careers and should be prepared for. If it’s a client with whom you want to stay on their good side, offer them a store credit for the same value. The other non-money-losing options are to offer to take it on consignment, offer to take just the diamond back (and brace for the tough talk over value), or, if it’s a custom job, commiserate. Six months? Really, is there any other product in the world people will wear close to their body and expect to get a full refund after such a long period of time? His demand is unreasonable. Stick to your guns.

I just lost my third huge diamond sale in a matter of months. Should I be worried about my sales techniques?

When you lose a big sale, especially one you’ve possibly worked weeks on, it can be tempting to try to immediately banish it from your mind. But a better strategy, says sales trainer Dave Richardson, is to heave its offending carcass onto the cold slab of the morgue and call a sales inquest. “You want to examine what mistakes were made, what possibly could have been avoided, what you could have done differently, and how you could have reacted to certain comments and objections brought forth by the buyer,” says Richardson. Perhaps there was absolutely nothing you could have done to save the sale. But if you review it with mentors or other staff, you may well learn one of those lessons that only failure seems to teach.

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Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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