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Eileen McClelland

Selling Color? Harness the Power of Primal Emotions



If selling color presents a challenge to you and your staff, consider approaching it from a primal level. Color, says Douglas Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, naturally stirs emotion.


Eileen McClelland

editor at
INSTORE Magazine.


If selling color presents a challenge to you and your staff, consider approaching it from a primal level. Color, says Douglas Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, naturally stirs emotion.

What could be more stimulating, for example, than red, the color of fire and blood. The drama of that color is hardwired into our bodies. It can even cause the pulse and respiration to accelerate. But red, in nature, is often a fleeting phenomenon.

So when the gemstone ruby was discovered, it’s no wonder that the permanence of its color was cause for celebration, awe and excitement. It was, and can be still, special and mysterious.


“You’ve got to make sure that that is the kind of emotion your customers experience when they look at ruby today,” Hucker says.

Hucker presented the seminar “Success in the Color Gemstone Revolution: Passion and a Plan,” at the AGTA GemFair Tucson last week.

Jewelry retailers have opportunities to make extraordinary margins in their colored gemstone and pearl departments. Successful growth in sales requires a dedicated and planned approach.

Where to begin?

Compare gemstones to wine: The chemical composition of gemstones, while fascinating to gemologists and scientists, may not interest the average customer. When talking with most customers about different gemstones of the same or similar colors – ruby, spinel and garnet, for example, — Hucker suggests using the analogy of the difference between grape varietals that produce wine, such as cabernet and merlot. “Beauty, wearability and rarity determine price and demand,” he says.

Learn the color wheel: This is crucial when helping customers shop for complementary colors. Study fashion magazines to understand how colors work together.


Realize that trends don’t fall from the sky: The Color Council of America brings different industries together to decide what the popular colors of the next couple of years will be. Stay on top of what’s current.

Know how to sell the Big 3: The traditional big three of gemstones — rubies, emeralds and sapphires — are still sold differently than other gemstones. Other color purchases are more likely to be considered accessories by self-purchasing women, while sapphires, rubies and emeralds are perceived to be more like diamonds, purchased for important occasions. So it’s a good idea to use the 4Cs when talking about them, for example, emphasizing the purity and saturation of color. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that individual preference varies, so never denigrate other color options, such as pastels.

Wax poetic: Conjure up some imagery when talking about colored gemstones. Citrine is like a sunset, for example. Or paint pretty verbal pictures about its country or region of origin.

Study the lore: Practice talking about lesser-known gemstones. Come up with stories about their histories and legends and perceived powers.

Know that, sometimes, size matters: If your customer is looking for a large gemstone on a budget, recognize that some gemstones regularly occur in larger sizes, making them more affordable. Amethyst, blue topaz, citrine and rose quartz fit this category. Aquamarine with occlusions can also be both appealing and affordable.

Resources: The website has a handy gem palette chart in the gemstone section. AGTA membership comes with a free online product promotion course.





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Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



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