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Podcast: Millennial Gem Trader Dave Bindra Steps Into ‘The Barb Wire’

Meet the gem expert and owner of one of the industry’s coolest Instagram accounts.

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THE BARB WIRE EPISODE 5: DAVE BINDRA (50:27 MINUTES)


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THIS MONTH on The Barb Wire, host Barbara Palumbo welcomes a rising star in the jewelry business, gem trader Dave Bindra, vice-president of B&B Fine Gems. Still in his early 30s, Bindra has built up an impressive resume, serving as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the GIA Alumni Association, member of the board of directors of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, acclaimed AGS Conclave speaker, not to mention running a seriously cool Instagram account @gemfluencer. (Come for the awesome collection of gemstones, stay for the awesome collection of color-coordinated shoes.)

Enjoy the newest episode of The Barb Wire. It’s talk radio for the jewelry business.


SHOW CHRONOLOGY
  • 2:00 Dave shares a short bio, explaining how he was “born into the business” when his father started selling gemstones after immigrating from India to the United States.
  • 3:50 Dave, who is in his early 30s, was asked recently how many years he has been going to the Tucson gem shows. He said he thought it was his 29th year. Receiving a shocked expression from his conversation partner, he explained that he used to “sleep under the showcases” as a kid while his parents sold gems at the show.
  • 5:10 Dave talks about his strategy of colored gemstone curation. He emphasizes: “We are not here to sell a commodity; we are here to sell a precious item.”
  • 8:30 Barbara reveals herself to be a huge fan of Dave’s Instagram account, @gemfluencer.
  • 9:20 Gemstone of the moment? Dave says spinel, noting that it has been “undervalued for centuries” and often misidentified as ruby in high jewelry through the ages.
  • 15:20 Other gemstones whose moment is on the horizon? Dave says garnet, which is following spinel’s path. Durable, highly transparent, a solid supply of material. Also, paraiba tourmaline.
  • 19:50 Discussing the lack of control over gemstone terminology, Barbara shares a funny story from her teenage years of how a QVC line of cubic zirconia with the alluring name of “Pink Ice”, became a phenomenon amongst the girls of her high school class.
  • 26:20 Barbara asks Dave what he feels the most important thing that his generation has added to the jewelry business. Dave says technology. He tells of his industry friends who, within a few years, have built social media followings in the hundreds of thousands. In a lot of cases, Dave emphasizes, these are people who wouldn’t otherwise have had exposure to the world of gems, jewelry and watches.
  • 27:50 Barbara and Dave commiserate over not being able to attend Basel this year.
  • 31:10 Barbara asks … what would happen if our current social media platforms suddenly went away? Dave bemoans a system where people’s importance is judged by how many social media followers they have. “You know first-hand, there are a ton of people out there who 2-, 3-, or 400,000 followers … half of them are bots.” He concludes, “We have to be very careful of how much value we place on this avenue and on this platform. And everything has a shelf life.”
  • 37:10 Dave selects one jewelry industry person and one watch industry person, alive or dead, he’d want to have dinner with. For jewelry, he picks Frederick Kunz, the famed minerologist who sourced gems for Tiffany at the turn of the century. And for watches, legendary executive Jean Claude Biver.
  • 40:35 Who is or was your greatest influence? Dave says his father. “I never wanted to join the family business. He never wanted me in the family business, to be honest with you. So it’s kind of funny how things worked out.” His biggest fan? His mom.
  • 43:10 His biggest morning needs? Coffee and meditation … the latter before the former.
  • 43:50 Favorite trade show? Tucson. He calls it “fun, laid-back, and color-centric.” And he also gives a shout-out to AGS Conclave.

Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Ben Smithee Isn’t Just Another Social Media ‘Influencer’

He calls social media “the great equalizer” for small businesses.

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The BARB WIRE (EPISODE 10): BEN SMITHEE (65:02 MINUTES)


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THE BARB WIRE celebrates its tenth episode with a visit from Ben Smithee, CEO at The Smithee Group (thesmitheegroup.com), a digital consultancy whose mission is “helping big brands think small and small brands think bigger”.

Talking with host Barbara Palumbo, Ben shares why he decided to originally focus his consultancy on the jewelry business (8:10), and Barbara refers to him as one of the industry’s few true “influencers” online (11:10). He talks about his unusual upbringing in Dallas as the adopted Asian son of white parents (17:00).

He’s passionate about social media, calling it “the great equalizer” for small businesses (29:30). And he later shares one of his pet peeves — retailers who can’t stop complaining about the things their customers do (32:50).

He also cites a specific behavior that he guarantees, if a retailer performs it daily for the next 365 days, will net them a six-figure sales increase (36:20). Later, he outlines the series of questions he asks potential clients to convince them to invest in building their social media following (40:30).

Catch the full podcast above.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: From Tanzanite to Greenland Ruby, Hayley Henning Loves Selling Color

Her current project is marketing a gemstone that’s “been buried under ice and snow for 3 billion years”.

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The BARB WIRE (EPISODE 9): HAYLEY HENNING (57:59 MINUTES)


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MARKETING COLORED GEMSTONES is on the agenda when Hayley Henning visits The Barb Wire with host Barbara Palumbo.

Henning is currently vice-president of Greenland Ruby, where she has been working the last two years after spending most of her career as one of the key faces behind the rise of Tanzanite since the mid-1990s. (In fact, Barbara says that before she knew Hayley personally, she thought of her as “the Tanzanite lady”.)

The South African native shares some of her personal journey (2:55) from her homeland to a career in the U.S., working for a company called Afgem that eventually became the well-known Tanzanite One. Hayley calls the company’s efforts to market Tanzanite “the start of colored gemstone marketing as we know it today”. (6:55)

Now Hayley is involved in a similar effort to increase public and industry acceptance of Greenland ruby (12:10). Says Henning: “There is no real instruction manual on how to introduce a new gemstone to the gem and jewelry industry. But we’re figuring it out.”

Her company, Greenland Ruby, is the first business with government permission to mine, market and sell ruby material found in Greenland. She is passionate about the story behind Greenland rubies, saying: “It’s not as though we went to some fancy marketing agency to say, “Alright, help us make up a story. We are telling the story of a gemstone that has been buried under ice and snow for nearly 3 billion years.” (25:20)

Later you’ll hear some of the work Hayley is doing with retailers to promote rubies from Greenland, as well as best practices for retailers looking to introduce new gemstone varieties.

Want to learn more about marketing colored gemstones to your customers? Don’t miss Hayley Henning on The Barb Wire.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Craig Husar Discusses His Career, and His Spectacular New Store, on ‘The Barb Wire’

Retailer says of his new location: “This was my destiny, to be here and nothing was going to stop me.”

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The BARB WIRE (EPISODE 8): CRAIG HUSAR (50:04 MINUTES)


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WATCH COLLECTORS, vintage jewelry, adventures in treasure hunting, and a showplace new store are on the agenda when jeweler Craig Husar steps into the Barb Wire this month. Husar is the owner and self-titled “Chief Romance Officer” at Craig Husar Fine Diamonds & Jewelry Designs in Brookfield, WI.

Barbara notes that Husar is her first podcast guest she hadn’t previously met in person, then tells the photogenic owner she thinks he should be in a Crest toothpaste commercial (2:30).

The conversation quickly turns to Husar’s spectacular new store (9:30), which opened in January during the week of the polar vortex in Milwaukee. (Spoiler alert: it was extremely cold.)

Husar had decided to move from his long-standing store site when he saw an available location opposite a major new free-standing outdoor lifestyle center in his community. Says the owner about the difficult store-creation process: “I was relentless. I’ve never been so focused and passionate about making something happen in my life. And it was that passion, that drive, that led me here. It was almost like, knowing somehow, that this was my destiny, to be here and nothing was going to stop me.”

The two discuss key features of the new store, including its monumental chandelier, called “the Star of Husar”, which features almost 3,000 Swarovski crystals (13:35). Since the store’s opening, the chandelier has become a focus of selfie-taking in and around the store.

The two discuss last month’s Las Vegas jewelry shows, with special praise given to the Antique Jewelry and Watch Show at the Collective (20:20). Says Husar: “I walked out, and wanted to sell everything I currently have, make it all go away, and start over with all vintage and antique jewelry.” He adds that he is currently developing the vintage and pre-owned part of his business as a new profit center (20:50).

Husar also discusses his previous jobs — including work with legendary treasure hunter Mel Fisher (23:40), with whom he worked on a dive site (a sunken Spanish galleon with valuables worth an estimated $500 million) off the Florida Keys. Around that time, he did a tour of jewelry stores to show off a 90-carat emerald found at the wreck. Barbara doesn’t remember, but then she does remember … mostly because of a specific hairstyle Husar wore at the time.

Husar shares his thoughts on lab-grown diamonds (29:10), and provides a useful analogy retailers can try on customers choosing between naturally-mined and lab-grown diamonds (31:10).

In the closing segment of the show, Husar shares his preferred industry dinner partner (35:50), role model (38:50), favorite jewelry industry word (40:00), and the one accessory that he simply can’t do without (43:25).

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