Wednesday, March 20, 2013

“Lisa, my friend is looking at Sapphires and I just wanted to make sure he isn’t getting hosed…”

The main reason I started this blog was to provide some honesty and transparency to the Jewelry industry, and this is a great example of why.  The above is what my hairstylist texted me this week.  My first question was, “Where is he looking?”  My Hairstylist, “I have a hook-up, a wholesaler.”

Ok, In the Jewelry industry, we get this all the time, whether it be diamonds (we’ll discuss this later) or gemstones.  So here is how it works, and a few gemstone buying tips as well. 

First, there is no such thing as a “wholesaler” when selling to the final customer.  Unless your Sister or Brother owns their own Sapphire mine, and, or company, that sells a large quantity of loose stones to other stores and designers, they are not a wholesaler.  Even if they do not have a retail store, this does not qualify them as a wholesaler. 

A reputable Gemstone wholesaler will, generally speaking, look something like this: They will typically source and often times have cut, their own (in this case) Sapphires.  They will specialize in them and sell to Jewelry Stores and Jewelry Designers.  They will typically, and should be, a member of The American Gem Trade Association, or AGTA.  They will travel to, exhibit and sell at, the major Jewelry shows nationally and internationally, like The AGTA Gem Fair in Tucson, AZ.  These shows are industry only, security is tight, and one has to be fully credentialed and registered to go. 

Questions yet?  Ok, back to our customer… 

After explaining how this all works, my hairstylist says, “This is why once he is given a quote I want your professional opinion so he doesn’t get hosed.”

This brings up several other issues, first of all and most importantly, TRUST YOUR JEWELER!!!  Would you go to a doctor you didn’t trust?  If you don’t trust your jeweler, and in this case, clearly the individual has questions and is contacting someone(me) they do trust, then don’t shop with them.  Conversely, I’m a Graduate Gemologist with 16 years of extensive experience, and if a client doesn’t trust me, then I would prefer they shop elsewhere. 

Next, quoting a price on a Sapphire is like quoting a price on a house in Chicago, there are simply too many variables!  The client is coming in on Monday so we can discuss this in person and hopefully they will feel educated and confident to make an informed purchase when I bring in stones for them to look at.

 When purchasing a Sapphire, or other important Gemstone, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1.        Trust your Jeweler

2.        They should be a Graduate Gemologist or have extensive experience and some gemological training.

3.       They should be able to clearly explain the quality factors when it comes to Sapphires, color itself being, by far, the most important!

4.       They should be able to understand and explain treatments, and most of them are, commonly used for Sapphires.

5.       They should be able to explain how colored stones are cut as opposed to diamonds.

6.       They should be able to explain how the quality factors of a Sapphire affect the rarity of the stone and hence the price.  Remember, small differences in rarity can greatly affect the price!

7.       They should know, and share with you, where Sapphires come from.

8.       They should have, or bring in, a small handful of stones, for you to choose from, while working with your budget.

9.       When looking at stones, after understanding their rarity characteristics pick your favorite!  Gemstones, like anything in nature, are like snowflakes.  Everyone is an individual, and different stones speak to different people.

10.   Have fun, these are nature’s treasures, and you just got a window into their world!

This was a big subject for blog #2!  What do you think?  Would you feel confident to purchase a Sapphire?



Aileen Menchaca said...

With the information you just gave about saphires, yes, I would feel more confident about purchasing a saphire on my own. BTW, I am so glad to see you have started a blog. This information is extremely helpful. You have made it clear that it is important to find a jeweler you can trust. Unfortunately you are in Chicago and I'm in Austin otherwise this would be an easy task :) Off to find the right jeweler!

lisathejeweler said...

Thanks Aileen, that is exactly whay I started this blog! Let me know if you need any recomendations:) OR, come visit me in Chicago!