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Commentary: The Business

Adam Graham: Of Purple Cows and Ruby Enhancements

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Explained the right way, gemstone treatments should rarely get in the way of a successful sale.

[dropcap cap=I]recently listened to a story about a person shopping for a leather couch. They found one that they liked and it was purple. The person thought that this couch would be very expensive, though, as the purple cows needed to produce leather of this color must be very rare. Of course, the rest of us would assume that it was dyed or treated and would still be OK with it. [/dropcap]

Such is the case with treatments on gemstones — with some caveats, of course — our consumer research shows that your clients are comfortable with the idea of treatments or enhancements on gemstones. Most of the products they buy have been treated in some way to improve them from their natural state. After all, clothing would be incredibly monotonous if it were just the natural color of wool or cotton. Customers do want to be assured that the treatments are safe, permanent and don’t affect the long-term value of the item. You would be upset if all the dye washed out of your new shirt the first time you laundered it, right?

Be proactive about addressing treatments with your clients by using a simple statement like “most gemstones are routinely enhanced in order to permanently improve their appearance.” Whether it is oiling emeralds, heating sapphires, or bleaching and dying pearls, these common practices should make no difference to your client as they only help maximize the beauty of the gemstone. That said, you and your staff should be prepared to answer questions about the treatments and should share any special care and cleaning tips for the specific gemstones (e.g., no emeralds in the ultrasonic).

Much has been made recently of the lead glass-filled rubies in the market. The AGTA has notified its members that the only acceptable term for this material is “glass-filled ruby” or “glass-filled composite ruby.” Referring to the material as “composite ruby” without the “glass-filled” designation is not acceptable. Just as important is the need for you to inform your clients about the special care these materials require in clear terms, such as: “With this material, you should avoid heat, ultrasonic and caustic chemicals, even those found in the household.” Clients may choose to buy anyway because of the look they get for the price, but that is a decision they should make with all of the facts in front of them.

If you choose to select gemstones that are natural and untreated to differentiate your business, that’s OK, too. The rarity and value of these gemstones will be appreciated by those clients who cherish purple cows.

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Note: For additional treatment information, go to www.agta .org/gemstones/agta-gim for the online version of the Gemstone Information Manual or call AGTA for a sample of the brochure “Gemstone Enhancements: What You Should Know.”

 


Adam Graham is marketing manager for the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA). Contact him at [email protected]

[span class=note]This story is from the August 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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