Connect with us

Commentary: The Business

Monica Stephenson: Semi-Precious — Says Who?

Published

on

It’s time to move on from this outdated terminology for colored gemstones.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of INSTORE.


Monica Stephenson of idazzle

Advertisement

We need to ditch the “semi-precious” phrase.

As a result of our human need to classify and rank, the jewelry industry ended up with a few gemstones arbitrarily crowned as the pinnacle of the field.

“Precious” are diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. The rest? Lumped ignominiously below as “semi-precious,” as in not-quite precious, less-than precious, partly precious.

Words matter. If a woman chooses a moonstone for an engagement ring, is it any less valuable in her eyes than a diamond or a “precious” colored gem?

Andrea Hansen, founder of Luxeintelligence, has a particularly apt quote about this from the late Hans Stern, who built H. Stern into a global fashion brand on the back of his colored gem jewelry: “There is no such thing as a semi-precious stone, as there is no semi-pregnant woman or semi-honest man.”

Jewelry designer Erica Courtney is known for her savant color sense. She travels the world in search of breathtaking hues, often embodied in gemstones from far-flung places. “If a ring is $75,000, with a 10-carat mandarin garnet or a 20-carat CSARITE that exhibits a magnificent color change, how can that be considered semi-precious?” she says. “These superstar gemstones are far more rare and unusual and should be given the classification of ‘Precious,’ if not ‘Precious and Rare.’”


Advertisement

&#8220We need to
recognize when

a phrase is no
longer serving
us well. &#8221

Malak Atut of ZAIKEN Jewelry, frequently uses colored gemstones in arresting combinations, with hues in one-of-a-kind saturations. She shares Courtney’s view: “I cringe a bit when I hear ‘semi-precious stones … there are many instances where a gem that is outside the traditional definition of the ‘Precious Posse’ — diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire — can be of greater value. It is time to expand the ‘Precious Posse’ and the idea of what is precious in the minds of consumers/retailers.”

How did we end up with an incorrect and outdated term that still routinely separates gemstones? The classification of precious versus semi-precious goes back centuries. And while it’s admirable that jewelry manages to acknowledge its history and accumulated wisdom, we also need to recognize when a phrase is no longer serving us well.

To label the rainbow, let’s call a gemstone by its given name: chrysoberyl, indicolite, phenakite. If they are from the earth, then we should use “Natural” before their name. If they are natural, and treated, that should come next, i.e. “Natural Heated Cambodian Zircon.” If a gem is truly rare, such as alexandrite or red beryl, then let’s call that out. We can find words to describe a gemstone’s origin, uniqueness, physical characteristics and beauty. Just don’t disparage a gemstone with something less than precious.

Monica Stephenson tells stories of adornment at her jewelry blog, idazzle.com, and is the founder of responsible gemstone company ANZA Gems.

Advertisement

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

Wilkerson Testimonials

To Generate Funds for a Jeweler’s Move and Remodel, Wilkerson More Than Delivered

Even successful jewelers need a little extra cash to fund expansion plans—especially when there’s inventory on hand that’s ripe for liquidation. For Beaumont, Texas-based jeweler Michael Price, co-owner of Mathews Jewelers, it was the perfect time to call Wilkerson. Price talked to other jewelers as well as vendors for advice during the selection process and decided to go with Wilkerson. And he wasn’t disappointed. When it comes to paying for the move and expansion, Price says the road ahead is clear. “When we close on the next two stores, there’s no worries about finances.”

Promoted Headlines

Commentary: The Business

Here’s How We Can Level The Playing Field For Women In The Jewelry Industry

The Women’s Jewelry Association empowers women to lead and succeed.

mm

Published

on

THE FUTURE SUCCESS of the jewelry industry calls for empowering more female leaders and connecting with the women who wear our products. As executive director of the Women’s Jewelry Association, the premier empowerment organization for women in the jewelry and watch industries over the past three decades, I see women striving for opportunities to lead each day.

Next month, the Women’s Jewelry Association is launching the March is Me Month campaign, a consumer-marketing initiative developed by over 30 women executives in the industry to empower female consumers to self-purchase. Women designing for women and women marketing to women makes sense. We are bringing together retailers, manufacturers and brands across many segments of our industry to participate in an industry-wide self-purchase campaign.

Video: Jeweler Wins Fight for $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim
Headlines

Video: Jeweler Wins Fight for $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim

Video: Gene the Jeweler Talks About Work Stress
Gene the Jeweler

Video: Gene the Jeweler Talks About Work Stress

Video: Jeweler’s $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim Denied
Headlines

Video: Jeweler’s $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim Denied

At its core, the Women’s Jewelry Association’s mission is to grow and cultivate women leaders. We believe education is the most powerful tool to boost confidence and professional success, and we have robust programming that caters to our members’ needs coast to coast. In 2020, we will launch a new strategic plan focused on building a pipeline of diverse talent, enabling more women to become successful in business and continuing our strong mentorship program. We also offer training to our chapter leaders on how to run effective boards and provide members the opportunity to take ownership of complex projects.

Our members are present and future leaders. Some members are already tasked with making critical decisions in their professional lives that affect hundreds, if not thousands, of employees, suppliers, miners, manufacturers and consumers. Other members are students and recent graduates preparing to embark on their careers in jewelry design, gemology and retail. Still others are trying to maintain a work-life balance while managing high-performing teams inside corporate companies and brands. The industry needs to continue cultivating a culture of opportunity and inclusion for women.

The Women’s Jewelry Association is proud to welcome both men and women into its membership. We embrace our male members because connecting with them means we are building stronger bonds and business relationships. Working toward equality in the workplace in our industry is no small feat. It cannot be done without the mentorship and advocacy of our male colleagues. We need to continue harnessing their support so that we can level the field when it comes to more women in the boardroom, more money in our paychecks, and greater access to capital to grow our businesses.

There’s still much to be done, but the Women’s Jewelry Association is excited to work with our sponsors, our partners and other associations in 2020 to continue advancing women and creating more opportunities for them to lead and succeed.

Continue Reading

Commentary: The Business

The First America’s Coolest Stores Winner Reflects on What It Means

Cool stores encourage customers to hang out, says owner Brett Weiler.

mm

Published

on

TWENTY YEARS AGO, as I was in the process of building out my second store, I remember my plumber saying: “I see what you are fixin’ to do here — you want people to relax, so’s you can get at their wallet.”

Well, kind of.

Thankfully, my introduction to the jewelry industry started at a small store during my college years in Gainesville, FL, called The Quarry. It was located in a charming old cottage. I would have to describe it as upscale-hippie with a low-key vibe, the kind of place where you just wanted to hang out, which the owners were kind enough to let me do. Interestingly, I was never monetarily compensated, nor did I ever set out to be a jeweler, but this little store evidently had a big impact on what I would do.

After that, however, every store that I was employed in felt stiff and uncomfortable. These were not environments I enjoyed, much less places I would want to spend most of my waking hours. I wanted a store that not only suited my sensibilities, but one that made all feel welcome. Somehow, I wanted my store to communicate my dedication when it comes to execution.  Let’s face it, in this industry, the devil is in the details.

I remember how excited I was when I won INSTORE’s first America’s Coolest Stores Award in 2002. But I also got to thinking, the magazine was pretty thin with hardly any advertising. I was kind of afraid that it would go the way of so many publications and leave me with a meaningless award. That was certainly not the case, as INSTORE became the powerhouse of the industry and the award quite highly regarded. I like to say that having a “Cool Store” is something you can never take away from me.

There are evidently many takes on what makes a “Cool Store” cool. Cool stores exude an ambience that makes it obvious that the customer’s experience is of key importance. The one thing they all seem to have in common is the ability to represent to the customer that this is not going to be just a typical retail transaction. A store does not have to be lavish; however, it should be able to demonstrate a commitment to your standards.

At the end of the day (pun intended), nobody spends more time in my store than I do, and I love it here. However, it is always very gratifying to me when someone comments on the vibe my store emanates. It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to serve my time here. How lucky am I?  Imagine, having a job where you just want to go hang out.

Continue Reading

Commentary: The Business

Here’s How to Stay Customer-Focused During the Holiday Rush

No matter how many people on the sales floor, you must stick to the basics of customer service.

mm

Published

on

LET’S TALK ABOUT the basics. Pure and simple, that means providing kind customer service while keeping your ego in check when it threatens to walk all over your common sense.

How do you react when a customer expects you to just drop everything to fix her costume pendant that she bought somewhere else when you have a store full of bonafide customers who want real jewelry? Every one of those customers will notice how you treat the simplest of us. You must learn that you are on a stage of sorts — so smile, be patient, be kind, be genuine and, if not, at least fake it ‘til you make it through the day.

Video: Jeweler Wins Fight for $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim
Headlines

Video: Jeweler Wins Fight for $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim

Video: Gene the Jeweler Talks About Work Stress
Gene the Jeweler

Video: Gene the Jeweler Talks About Work Stress

Video: Jeweler’s $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim Denied
Headlines

Video: Jeweler’s $500,000 Snow Promotion Claim Denied

People come to us with misinformation, stupid requests, etc., but they come to us, the professionals of the industry. Each of you holds a place of power. I often preach that we have to be sensitive to what it is like to approach us. How do you feel when you aren’t waited on promptly and recognized, but rather talked over or ignored? Or worse, pounced on the moment you enter the door? Now imagine a recent widow, divorcee or survivor coming into your store and not being waited on promptly or even recognized, but instead ignored. It’s intimidating.

Translate that thought into your greeting protocol. Your customers should be greeted inside the door within 15 seconds of arrival. Have your staff close their eyes and count 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, until 15 one thousand. It’s a long time, isn’t it? Are you greeting them promptly and in an engaging manner? If not, why not? Are you practicing active listening and asking open-ended questions?

People stop buying when you stop selling! Are you doing add-on sales? Are you requesting return visits for jewelry check-ups, positive reviews or recommendations to friends?

Of course my favorite topic for ABC sales is The Yes Train. You wanted white gold, yes. You wanted a halo with vintage accents, yes. You wanted a size 6 with euro shank, yes. You were looking for larger diamonds in the shoulders and some sparkles in the gallery, big smile, yes. This will make a sensational ring all of your friends will envy, yes. Let’s get your deposit taken care of so I can get started on this beauty right away! That active listening “yes” train is headed straight to the bank.

You must build confidence, inspire cooperation and invite rapport with each customer, every time. Check your ego at the door, Fancy Jewelry Store Owner. How you treat customers, how you respond to challenges, how you handle a serious crisis is reflected in how you treat your employees and how they will treat your customers.

What will you change tomorrow and the next day? Because it is a process to become an owner (meaning manager, goldsmith, appraiser, bookkeeper, psychiatrist, repairman, event manager, cupid and of course, housekeeper).

Fundamentals can never be underrated, especially headed into the holiday season. Now go dazzle them!

Continue Reading

Most Popular