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Commentary: The Business

Claire Baiz: Think Big and Make That Significant Sale



Be prepared to land that whopper of a sale with these seven easy steps, no matter how small your store or your town.

[dropcap cap=I]  had been in business for only eight months when a retailer from a resort town in Montana darn near melted the earpiece in my telephone.
“I need a 20-carat-plus, pear shape. It’s gotta be VS, eye-clean, and white.”[/dropcap]

His private buyer owned a major shipping company and flew in and out of his Montana vacation home a couple of times a month. The jeweler’s client was rolling high and looking for “a nice anniversary gift” — either a small chalet in Europe or a big diamond. The customer already had a place in Montana, so the resort jeweler and I scrambled to find the fellow a rock.

Back then the only trading resources I had were on Polygon, and I’m sure many people looked at that post on the blue colored screen and said “Yeah, right. Like this little girl out in the Rockies can move a $750,000 diamond.”

It took me two weeks to locate a dealer with a diamond who was willing to work with me, but by that time the resort jeweler had thrown his arms up in despair: His client actually did buy a little chalet instead of an important diamond.

Losing that sale stung for a long time. The resort jeweler understood, but I’m sure he wasn’t happy.


These days no one can afford to lose a sale, especially a big one. I’d like to offer a little advice to small-town jewelers who might land a whopper:

[number color=red value=1] You can’t sell ’em if you don’t have ’em. If you don’t have a 5-carat diamond in your store, fake it. A big blank setting in your diamond case can spur conversation. I prefer to leave the prongs looking a bit ragged, in with all the set goods.
Customer: “Oh, what was in that ring?”
Jeweler: “I’m sorry, the center has been sold.”
Customer: “Wow, it must have been huge.”
Jeweler: “It was just right.” (wink wink).[/number]

[number color=red value=2] When a client expresses interest in a significant diamond (or larger fancy color) be sure you know your stuff. Explain what causes certain colors in diamonds. Be professional but casual. Act like you do this every day.[/number]

[number color=red value=3] Having a digital highlight reel on your computer monitor doesn’t hurt.  A flat monitor costs under $300: People are used to looking at stuff on screens.[/number]

[number color=red value=4] Be their resource for expertise, not just bling. Explain the rarity of the gem, and that only a handful might be for sale in the entire world. Tell the client that if they ask every jeweler in town and a few in New York that they might actually raise the price of the stone by having so many people inquire on their behalf. “If you are serious, Mrs. Cohn, you need to ask only one or two knowledgeable dealers to make some discreet inquiries, or you might wind up bidding against yourself.”
[number color=red value=5] Ask friends who deal in large sales ahead of time if they would help you in the event that you needed a big rock in a big hurry. Yes, you might have to share the commission, but it’s worth it. Have a game plan so you don’t need to scramble.[/number]

[number color=red value=6] Drop a biggie in an ad. Please don’t tell my competition, but sometimes I advertise a diamond that is just on “hold” for me at a cutting house, etc. If someone asks to see it, you can say “It’s in the vault” (which is true) and prequalify them to view it by appointment the next day.[/number]


[number color=red value=7] Don’t get big rocks in without a big mounting, even if it’s a solitaire or pendant.[/number]

“Why, we can set that up for you right away in a solitaire, and you can come back later to explore other options.”

I don’t sell a lot of big diamonds, but I sell my share, and all of these tips have helped at one time or another.

Claire Baiz owns Big Sky Gold & Diamond Brokers in Great Falls, MT. E-mail her at [email protected].

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