Connect with us

Eileen McClelland

The Natural Diamond Council’s Education Program Is Open to All in the Jewelry Industry

Interactive learning tracks take a deep dive into topics beyond the 4Cs.



Grant Mobley of the Natural Diamond Council discusses the attributes of naturally occurring diamonds during an education session at Day’s Jewelers.
Grant Mobley of the Natural Diamond Council discusses the attributes of naturally occurring diamonds during an education session at Day’s Jewelers.

THE NATURAL DIAMOND COUNCIL is reaching out to independent jewelers to offer a comprehensive diamond education.

“The program is designed to accelerate natural diamond education beyond the 4Cs,” says Gabrielle Grazi, VP for retail strategy and partnerships for the NDC. “The NDC saw immense success with the education program for our Official Retail Partners, which encouraged us to offer the program to the entire industry.”

Online courses are included in full retail partnerships, but the NDC now offers its education to all, with an annual subscription.

The program aims to enrich skill sets and enable learners to stay educated about the benefits of naturally occurring diamonds. They should then be well equipped to educate consumers and convert sales.

The turnkey platform hosts learning tracks comprised of interactive education, exclusive content, and digital assets. Each learning track is equipped with materials to complement the interactive episodes, including infographics and resources, social media assets, articles, and certificates of completion.

The Natural Diamond Council’s Education Program Is Open to All in the Jewelry Industry


James Free Jewelers, which is owned by Michael Karaman, employs 62 people with stores in Cincinnati and Dayton, OH. Mike Hopper, general manager, says courses from the NDC have helped the staff feel more confident in selling diamonds. “We sell only natural diamonds,” Hopper says. “Our position is that the person receiving a James Free box wrapped in our beautiful paper has an expectation they will be receiving a diamond and not an alternative.”

That decision also ensures that James Free’s lifetime option to upgrade stays simple. The company honors the original price paid toward the purchase of a new diamond, even if the new diamond is $1 more than the original.

Recently, the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) released the results of a new study performed by CXG, a leader in the luxury consumer insights space, verifying that educating consumers about diamonds at the retail point-of-sale is critical to sales conversion.

Research suggests that 40 percent of customer interactions did not include proactive diamond education via sales advisers, which directly impacted sales conversion. Findings prove that 93 percent of customers were more inclined to make a purchase of diamond jewelry when they felt sufficiently educated by a sales professional. The research confirms that sales professionals play a paramount role in educating customers.

Loose diamond and diamond jewelry categories are still the No. 1 component of James Free’s business. Instead of attempting to convert shoppers on price, the James Free team is equipped to present facts about diamonds. “The conversion rate is pretty high,” Hopper says.

“Price vs. value is something we always stress,” Hopper says. “The person who wants a Louis Vuitton look-alike vs. a Louis Vuitton bag is the same person who would buy a 4-carat, lab-grown diamond over a carat and a half natural diamond. But when you consider the provenance of giving Grandmother’s ring to your daughter, there’s not much to it if it’s lab-grown; it’s just a keepsake.”


Still, the fact that larger diamonds have become aspirational is good for everyone selling diamonds. In his market, the 1 carat bar was moved to 1.5 carats for naturally occurring diamonds several years ago; and the 2 carat is now standard for all diamonds. “The luxury jewelers of the world have seen everything,” Hopper says. “We’ve had synthetic gemstones for longer than I can remember, yet natural-colored stones still do well.”

Day’s Jewelers is another of NDC’s partners. Shoppers at Day’s continue to prefer naturally occurring over lab-grown diamonds, says Leo Gerrior, store manager for Day’s Jewelers’ South Portland, ME, location. “NDC is giving us a lot of content to talk about the reasons to go to natural and our internal trainings have been about how to talk about diamonds and the differences between those two options,” he says.

The Natural Diamond Council’s Education Program Is Open to All in the Jewelry Industry

The NDC’s education program blends well with other education Day’s offers and the timing couldn’t be better, Gerrior says.

“As a company, we’ve been revamping our education structures both for onboarding and continuing education,” he says. “Career pathways, everything. Right now, education is one of our biggest initiatives. Diamonds are the cornerstone of our business, so diamond education is paramount to what we’re doing and our No. 1 priority. We’re mixing everything on natural diamonds with sales presentations training and general diamond knowledge training.”

Jen Thornton, a consultant who designed the educational platform for the NDC, said the goal was to equip sales staff with a story that they could easily share with their customers, that goes beyond the technical details usually taught.


Thornton sought out a Learning Management System that would offer a lot of flexibility in the experience. The one they chose allows for interactive modules, video content, and links to specific articles. It allows store owners and managers to download social media content as well as materials that can be used in their own, in-house workshops.

Instead of an old school approach (watch a video and hope you remember everything) this system appeals to effective adult learning methods, such as novelty, discovery, appealing to senses and appealing to emotions.

“It’s a way to explore the information instead of just listening to it all,” Thornton says. “Curiosity keeps the learning paths open in the brain.”

In addition, all of the information is bite-sized, but participants can click to learn more. “When we interact as adult learners, we’re more likely to remember it and clicking connects with the ability for touch,” she says.

The learning tracks include an Introduction to the NDC, The History and Allure of Natural Diamonds, The Industry’s Progress and Commitment to Sustainability, The Difference Between Natural and Laboratory Grown Diamonds, Fancy Colored Diamonds, Busting Diamond Myths with Facts” and more.

The education platform is turn-key to review and activate the annual subscription. Visit here to enroll. For inquiries on partnership opportunities, email



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular