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Moving ‘Crappy, Nasty’ Gold Scrap Diamonds … and More Jeweler Questions Answered

How to get rid of those low-quality gold scrap diamonds, plus creating change that sticks and more.

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OVER-THE-COUNTER BUYIN?G

What are jewelers doing with the “crappy, nasty diamonds” that you get when you take in gold scrap?

We asked the Brain Squad and got enough good responses to fill five Ask INSTORE columns. Among the suggestions:

  • Resell them to vendors and melee buyers (names mentioned included: Rick Shatz, Dialase and Stuller). Prices cited for mixed lots ranged from $25 per carat up to $100 per carat for stronger lots.
  • Take them to a trade show and offer them to wholesalers. But sorting can be time-consuming, so in some cases it wasn’t worth the time extracting the “worthless stones.”
  • Keep them for repairs for “crappy, nasty customers.” (“It’s our biggest-margin item when we sell them for repairs,” one jeweler said).
  • Use them as replacements in insurance jobs.
  • Irradiate to a more sellable color.
  • Repurpose them; maybe in silver jewelry that can be given or sold to customers’ kids.
  • Reset them in an edgy piece (Kent Bagnall at Kent Jewelry & Fine Custom Gifts in Rolla, MO, floats them in mineral oil in a vial pendant)
  • Give them back to the customer.
  • Use the larger ones for “demo pieces” when educating a customer about the difference between a nice diamond and a junk one.

OVERSEAS PURCHASES

A customer brought in a jade ring they bought on vacation for me to appraise. It came with a lab report. Can I trust it?

If it is a recognized international lab, you can usually contact it and confirm the information. Don’t discredit a lab just because you do not recognize the name; there are many small labs that do good work. As for what’s on the report, what’s omitted is often as important as what’s included, says Cara Williams, a senior gemologist at Stone Group Labs in Jefferson City, MO. “Look for a statement indicating what treatment has been done or that it is ‘untreated’. ‘Natural’ by itself is too vague a word,” Williams says. For jade testing, Williams says it is important that a lab have infrared testing equipment known as FTIR — this is the best way to check if it is low-grade bleached and polymer-filled “B-jade,” which is very common. Equally crucial is spectrographic testing for dyes, she says.

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CHANGE

Every year I have big plans to shake things up. But they never stick. How do I get buy-in from staff?

People generally resist change. But the more informed they are, the more likely they’ll engage and accept it. So, build up to The Change Event by letting them know what’s coming, why (with a big stress on the benefits) and when — and give them a period to adjust mentally. Second, find a “sponsor” — someone on staff who gives a hoot and who will encourage others to give a hoot. Once the new system kicks in, collect feedback and identify any problems, and make changes. But don’t just focus on the hiccups. Be sure to recognize things that went well. Through all of it, be prepared to answer a lot of questions (post- Change may actually require more energy than the preparation phase).

TECHNOLOGY

A software vendor suggested I upgrade from QuickBooks to their system, claiming I wouldn’t really appreciate the benefits until I did. What do you think?

We think a vendor would say that. QuickBooks works fine for businesses doing up to $25 million a year, and at a cost of around just $200. Note, however, that QuickBooks is for accounting only. If you’re using it for inventory, sales and customer data, then you may very well be experiencing growth issues. If that’s the case, check out a fullfeatured POS system.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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