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Diamond sales, up or down?

The solitaire shown is yellow gold, but was sold as an 18kt white
gold.ring. It was simply plated, and when the plating wore off
there was one seriously unhappy camper.

I had one of those come into the store last week, and you are right -
a very unhappy camper indeed.

Hans, thanks for the view from the outside of the inside (does that
make sense?)

By the way, I had the pleasure to spend a couple of days on your
island a few years back, and it was a great experience. The mix of
cultures and the island’s natural beauty are amazing.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

Goo, what I am saying is that the successful island jeweler
(especially the chain jeweler, with stores in all of the major
tourist destinations) is buying quantities of gems for cash or short
credit, versus the guy in the states who brings in all of his stones
on memo to flip for a tiny percentage markup. In the diamond trade,
cash is definitely king, and memo diamonds will nearly always cost
more wholesale that the same stone paid for in cash; sometimes a lot
more. If you have a good relationship with your suppliers, and buy in
volume, you will get the same deals that they do.

WHEN the island stores buy for less, it would be because of this
bulk buying, not because of some inate ‘cheapness’ of diamonds in
tourist areas. I’m sorry if I was unclear in my post.

I always think of Wal*Mart, and their promo tennis bracelets. There
are times that they sell these (admittedly promotional quality)
pieces for a lot less than what it would cost to buy the diamonds
alone from a reputable supplier like Stuller. When you buy a hundred
thousand carats of diamonds at once, you can get a heck of a deal!

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

So, to keep up the volume,the jewellery is made as cheap as
possible. That means that the diamonds and the coloured stones and
the physical jewellery that is sold on this island is plated,
cast, made in the east,sold under false certification, 

The very reason I started the whole “diamonds are essentially all
the same price” version of this thread. Sometimes you think your
competition has some magical edge or inside track, when in reality
all they are doing is lying to the customers. Sigh…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

lee - what most of us on the continent are saying is that stuff from
the "islands ’ IS NOT CHEAPER and you have failed to document your
claims that support this as fact - goo

WHEN the island stores buy for less, it would be because of this
bulk buying, not because of some inate 'cheapness' of diamonds in
tourist areas. I'm sorry if I was unclear in my post. 

As I said long ago, Lee doesn’t really disagree, he’s just taking it
farther - it is what it is.

The thing is that all of the people buying 1000 carat lots are STILL
all paying the same price as each other, in a big picture sort of
way. Someone can go to South America and buy 10 pounds of emeralds
that some guy dug up in his backyard, for cheap. Or a parcel of
amethyst from a little hut in the jungle. It’s still what the market
will bear, by and large. But the diamond business is different, and
much more tightly controlled. Goods are largely (almost entirely)
priced and sold on a uniform, percentage off “market” price. I may
get 40 off, somebody else might get 50 off, but it’s the “off” part
that counts - that there is a uniform pricing structure in place.
That’s partly the power of Rappaport, for better or worse.

When you get into real diamonds those differences just vanish, too.
If somebody is shopping a 5 carat D/Flawless, nobody is buying 1000
carat lots of those - we are each buying one stone. I can, and have
been competitive with anybody - Cartier, Boucheron - on a stone like
that. They are no doubt getting a better base price, or they own it,
but I (or you) have a much lower margin, so generally the bottom
line will be the same or less for me.

not because of some inate 'cheapness' of diamonds 

Everything diamond I’ve ever seen from the venues we’ve been talking
about have been “innately cheap”, but that’s subjective and I’m not
trying to argue - just my own observation. I will also say that
every single piece of vacation jewelry I’ve ever seen was worth just
what was paid for it. “Look, I paid $1000 for this one carat
diamond!” Yes, and you got a $1000 (if not $750) diamond for your
money, too.

I want to say, too, that Lee Cornelius has contributed on this
thread, and I for one appreciate his point of view. It may seem like
disagreement, but it’s not (for me, anyway) It’s just different ways
of looking at the elephant.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

island jewellery not worth it Unhappy campers

Years ago I had a customer, an international fashion photographer,
bring me a belt buckle he had bought in New York, I don’t know where,
but he was in the fashion business so it should have been good.

Well it had snapped and one look told me it WAS NOT STERLING 925 as
he had been told. The first thing I did was get $10 from him to buy a
new soldering board as I knew what would happen next.

I applied gentle heat and the base metal oozed out of the plating.
He went ballistic/crazy not at me but at the fact he had been ripped
off. Any way he was back n New York the next week and I guess there
was one little shop that did not have a happy day.

The point- you don’t have to go to the islands to buy rubbish. In
Australia chainstores (entry level jeweler sellers) sell it all the
time. A colleague had a chainstore chain brought in for repair as the
chainstore did not HAVE ANY BENCHJEWELERS. The chainstore half price
cost was $69 a gram for 9Ct gold. My mate said his normal price was
$48 a gram. A customer lost to the chainstores and another win for
the bench jeweller.

Why don’t they just come to us (bench jewellers) FIRST! We all offer
value and quality and service and a PERSONAL GUARANTEE as our
businesses rely on it.

On closing be gentle when you tell the customer how much of a
bargain they did not get, a cup of coffee and sympathy can really
lead to a good sale and ongoing customer relationship.

Richard

Why don't they just come to us (bench jewellers) FIRST! We all
offer value and quality and service and a PERSONAL GUARANTEE as our
businesses rely on it. 

There’s no contest when it comes to quality and service, but for
those on a budget, the chain stores offer apparent value for money.
Obviously, it is known to all on this list, that the chain stores
often sell poor quality jewellery, but for the vast majority of the
buying public, they don’t know any different and the sort of
jewellery offered by the chain stores is what they are used to and
usually all they can afford. Jewellery made by “proper”, bench
jewellers is perhaps seen as being for those folks with wealth.

Maybe I’m missing something, but from my experience as a member of
the buying public, there are the chain stores where you can buy a
piece of jewellery in the hundreds price bracket or under (which is
overpriced for what the jewellery is quite often). Then at the other
end of the scale, there are independent jewellers who make very
obviously high quality jewellery with high quality selling
in the thousands or tens of thousands price bracket. I’ve not yet
found the stores in my town, run by bench jewellers who fall in
between these two extremes - those who are still affordable and who
you say offer value. I suppose it’s all relative and what’s
affordable to one person won’t be affordable to another.

Is it just me, or is there a big void between the two extremes?
Perhaps it’s just that these jewellers are missing in my town.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk
http://helensgems.ganoksin.com/blogs/

Is it just me, or is there a big void between the two extremes 

Might have something to do with economy of scale. So called 'cheap’
jewelry is so because there’s a factory somewhere churning out large
quantities.

Now you may ask why some small makers sell comparatively expensive
stuff? Personally, if I have to choose between making something that
sells for $500 or spending much the same time on something that sells
for $5000…its an easy choice. I do both, but I prefer the latter.
Also the market for 500 dollar pieces is pretty competitive. I’ve
said the best way to compete is not to compete. I could knock myself
silly trying to make a better $500 piece than the mall store has, but
like you said, that kind of client either doesn’t know or doesn’t
care. If you are going to play ‘their’ game, you better do
it…well…better. Or as good but cheaper.

If we are about goldsmithing (or whatever) isn’t our competitive
advantage to do what the word implies, not just rapid fire
assembly.of clone after clone?

But there ARE sellers/makers in the middle ground. I remember a few
years ago the trade press was declaring the mid-range dead. I’ll bet
that with this stuff going on, the middle comes out pretty well in
the end.

Maybe I'm missing something, but from my experience as a member of
the buying public, there are the chain stores where you can buy a
piece of jewellery in the hundreds price bracket or under (which
is overpriced for what the jewellery is quite often). Then at the
other end of the scale, there are independent jewellers who make
very obviously high quality jewellery with high quality gemstones,
selling in the thousands or tens of thousands price bracket. I've
not yet found the stores in my town, run by bench jewellers who
fall in between these two extremes - those who are still affordable
and who you say offer value. I suppose it's all relative and what's
affordable to one person won't be affordable to another. Is it just
me, or is there a big void between the two extremes? Perhaps it's
just that these jewellers are missing in my town. 

This may open a whole new can of worms, Helen! In most towns, I
think there probably is a void. A given population can only provide a
living for a limited number of jewellery outlets of ANY kind. And
you’re right, of course, about affordability being relative.

In Perth (Australia), my home town, I think there are several
layers:

High end bench jewellery makers, at least one of whom is a 'brand’
name here, mid level stores who may or may not have their own bench
jewellers (I’ve noticed a few more of these appearing recently) the
cheap (overpriced!) mass market stores, the big chain stores that
sell everything from clothing to electrical goods - and then, most in
the quality and value for money bracket and, finally, the 'studio’
jewellers who usually do not have a retail outlet but sell through
galleries.

These last are where I would go for a one off or limited run piece.

Anyone have any other comments?

Jane Walker

Personally, if I have to choose between making something that sells
for $500 or spending much the same time on something that sells for
$5000...its an easy choice. 

Good point.

If you are going to play 'their' game, you better do
it...well...better. Or as good but cheaper. 

No, I don’t want to play their game, although I do think there is a
gap. I want to learn to make really fine jewellery and hopefully,
slowly, I’ll get there.

If we are about goldsmithing (or whatever) isn't our competitive
advantage to do what the word implies, not just rapid fire
assembly.of clone after clone? 

I certainly do NOT want to churn out rapid fire clones, which is why
I’ve never bought pre-made settings, etc.

My post came from my perspective as a buyer. Although I’m making
jewellery myself, I still like to buy jewellery occasionally, as
gifts for others mainly (and I don’t buy what I could make myself). I
still have a foot in both camps, as a maker and a buyer. But I can’t
afford the gorgeous stuff in the thousands price bracket, or what it
would cost to walk into a store run by a bench jeweller and have
something custom made. Richard said “Why don’t they just come to us
(bench jewellers) FIRST! We all offer value and quality and service
and a PERSONAL GUARANTEE as our businesses rely on it.” He also
quoted two prices per gram for 9K gold, and yes it would be wonderful
if you could walk into such a store and have something made so
reasonably, rather than having to settle for chain store rubbish but
I’ve not found anywhere where you can do that - yet.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong and such jewellers do exist, but when I
ask for a quote to have something made, the pound signs seem to be
rolling behind their eyes and quotes are always out of reach.
Perhaps I’ve been asking in the wrong places and the reasonable folks
aren’t marketing their custom services well enough.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk
http://helensgems.ganoksin.com/blogs/

He also quoted two prices per gram for 9K gold, 

I always love Great Britain. You know that in the US you can’t even
call this gold I assume? And yet you make all your jewelers put a
thousand stamps in each piece.

Maybe I've got it all wrong and such jewellers do exist, but when
I ask for a quote to have something made, the pound signs seem to
be rolling behind their eyes and quotes are always out of reach. 

Custom work is a very different beast than simply making up a piece
of jewelry and selling it. Never mind the design time, ordering
special materials,etc. Think about the number of times a piece might
have to be reworked (or redrawn if you do it that way). Think about
how much more time you have to spend with the customer. Someone
comes into my store and says I want to buy a ring for someone and
usually they can pick something out in less then an hour or two. With
custom work there may be repeated meetings with the clients. Do
overs. Changes in design. My custom work starts at $1000 which
frankly is way too cheap given where gold is priced right now. I’m
not that expensive either compared to a few other places nearby. You
may think it should be just as easy as making up a piece for the
cases, but trust me, it is anything but.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com

I always love Great Britain. You know that in the US you can't
even call this gold I assume? 

Yes I know that, but you do call 10K gold, which is hardly much more
pure than the 9K that you dismiss as not being worthy to be called
gold. Very strange. I would not have anything commissioned in 9K or
10K. 18K is my metal of choice - I was quoting another poster.

And yet you make all your jewelers put a thousand stamps in each
piece. 

Not quite, just three actually. And there’s nothing wrong with our
hallmarking system, apart from the additional cost and inconvenience
of having to send pieces away to be stamped, but the buying public
trust in the system and so its benefits outweigh the inconvenience
of it.

A few people in America have asked me why I don’t just stamp
jewellery myself, stating that nobody would know the difference, but
a) I would know the difference and my conscience would not allow me
to do that - I prefer honesty at all times and in all things and b)
it probably would be easy to tell if someone stamped the work
themselves, and c) the enormous fines would not be worth a jeweller
risking such a stupid deception.

Helen
UK

Custom work is a very different beast than simply making up a
piece of jewelry and selling it. You may think it should be just as
easy as making up a piece for the cases, but trust me, it is
anything but. 

Sorry, I’ve not explained myself very well - as is usually the case.
I know they are two different beasts. The example I mentioned
involved me having a specific ring design in mind and me already
knowing that the setting could be bought from jewellery supply
companies, and how much it cost. I had also priced up the stones
prior to asking for such quotes. There was no design involved as I
already knew what I wanted and it was readily available - easy to
please you see. I did not have the skills at the time to buy the
components and set them myself (and my skills are still a little
short I think). Although my tastes have changed now so I’m glad I
couldn’t afford to have it done! :wink:

I think my town just doesn’t have jewellers in the middle ground.
I’m not trying to open up a can of worms or belittle anybody who does
true custom work. I know the value of true, high end custom work.

Helen
UK

I think my town just doesn't have jewellers in the middle ground.
I'm not trying to open up a can of worms or belittle anybody who
does true custom work. I know the value of true, high end custom
work. 

Actually, I agree with this. I’m not a full jeweller (yet!) but I
know enough about it all from my own humble beadwork and from knowing
jewellers that I know that I MUCH prefer supporting and buying from
people who have actually made their product instead of walking into a
shop and buying something. There is just something extra special
about it, it is more personal and wasn’t just stamped out as a clone.
Maybe it is because I would someday love to be able to make these
things myself. Helen is right though, even though I much prefer the
handmade items, I just don’t have the funds to pay hundreds and
thousands for jewellery, much as I may love to :slight_smile: I can go to some
hundreds if I really love it and convince myself but there dosen’t
seem to be many jewellers out there catering for the relatively lower
price market.

I also agree with the recent discussion about bling versus
creativity. Go for the creativity every time!!! Of course, there is a
market for the bling but there are still huge amounts of people that
much prefer to pay for creativity over in your face glitz. I love
Noel’s pieces. Perfect example!

Nicola
Dublin, Ireland.

The example I mentioned involved me having a specific ring design
in mind and me already knowing that the setting could be bought
from jewellery supply companies, and how much it cost. I had also
priced up the stones prior to asking for such quotes. 

You may know what the costs are to purchase the stuff but you have
no idea what the individual jewelers’ costs are to make it up for
you. I don’t just mean the labor. I mean all of the expenses that go
along with running a full scale store operation as opposed to
something out of one’s home. You’re trying to set the seller’s price
without knowing the true costs involved. This incidentally, is
something that many, many people try to do today. Frankly I think
it’s part of the reason margins have plummeted on a lot of goods.
Look at the people who come into their local jewelry store with a
Rappaport list in hand and say look: Rap says the price of this
diamond is X so I want it for that price. X, as it happens is
somewhat close to a wholesale price. But why should a retailer sell
the diamond at wholesale (or even near it—I know most stones are
sold back of Rap)? They have to make money on what they sell or they
go out of business. I’m not saying that perhaps the jewelers you
talked to were not overcharging for what you wanted, but you have no
way of knowing that without actually being able to look at their
individual costs.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com

The example I mentioned involved me having a specific ring design
in mind and me already knowing that the setting could be bought
from jewellery supply companies, and how much it cost. I had also
priced up the stones prior to asking for such quotes. 

You may know what the costs are to purchase the stuff but you have no
idea what the individual jewelers’ costs are to make it up for you. I
don’t just mean the labor. I mean all of the expenses that go along
with running a full scale store operation as opposed to something out
of one’s home. You’re trying to set the seller’s price without
knowing the true costs involved. This incidentally, is something that
many, many people try to do today. Frankly I think it’s part of the
reason margins have plummeted on a lot of goods. Look at the people
who come into their local jewelry store with a Rappaport list in hand
and say look: Rap says the price of this diamond is X so I want it
for that price. X, as it happens is somewhat close to a wholesale
price. But why should a retailer sell the diamond at wholesale (or
even near it—I know most stones are sold back of Rap)? They have to
make money on what they sell or they go out of business. I’m not
saying that perhaps the jewelers you talked to were not overcharging
for what you wanted, but you have no way of knowing that without
actually being able to look at their individual costs.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com

but you do call 10K gold, which is hardly much more pure than the
9K that you dismiss as not being worthy to be called gold. 

I consider both of them to be brass and I’ll say so to anyone who
will listen. ;<}

I would dread the English hallmarking inconvenience of sending
everything out, but I envy the system as a whole, and the trust it
has gained the whole world over. Likely the best in the
world…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

Yes I know that, but you do call 10K gold, which is hardly much
more pure than the 9K that you dismiss as not being worthy to be
called gold. 

Hold it right there Helen! This statement assumes that we are all
quality mark swindlers here in the US. That is a gross distortion of
the true situation as it currently exists. The fact that it is easy
to cheat and most of us don’t should be seen as proof of our honesty.
But instead the lack of universal monitoring seems to be taken as
proof of the opposite.

I have been dealing with many UK jewelers for the past 15 years.
This hallmarking issue regarding American work is so grossly
exaggerated in the minds of every British jeweler I have ever talked
to that it amounts to an assumption of guilt. The confidence with
which it is so often stated that all American gold jewelry is made of
substandard material is an unfair and insulting generalization. The
silence from our side (listen to me my fellow Americans!)just
encourages them to keep up this slander. Let me lay out the facts.

Prior to the 1970s, what you say was very often true. But that does
not mean it is still true. Our quality laws once allowed items to be
rounded off the the nearest karat. So something marked 10K could be
actually 9.5 K and legally pass. But nobody was checking so sometimes
it might be lower. This was obviously a bad situation so in the 1970s
the law changed so that all karat marked gold must be “plumb” which
means it must be all of the karat marked. There was a 2 year phase in
to flush old inventory out of the trade and after that everything
supplied by the findings and mill suppliers and wholesale
manufacturers was supposed to be up to snuff.

But we are still on an honor system. And our British cousins are not
hearing that we are not all cheating just because we can. Why? Is
this because it is what you would do if you could? I am quite sure
that before the 1970s many jewelers were already using plumb
material. But since then sheet, wire, findings, casting grain and
even solder have been reliably plumb. When I have submitted my work
to the assay office in Edinburgh it has always passed. This includes
both work I cast myself and things cast by contract casters in the
past. I didn’t make it special just because I knew it might be
assayed.

I know this forum is monitored by Stuller, Hoover and Strong, Rio
Grande as well as hundreds, if not thousands of other American
manufacturers and craftsmen. Would you please join me in not being
silent when our integrity is being challenged regarding metal quality
and hallmarking. No, our system is not as foolproof as the medieval
and totalitarian system that our British and European colleagues have
allowed to encumber their freedom to trade for hundreds of years. But
substandard material is not universal in American jewelry
craftsmanship as it is so often claimed across the pond.

Stephen Walker

Hi Nicola,

Helen is right though, even though I much prefer the handmade
items, I just don't have the funds to pay hundreds and thousands
for jewellery, much as I may love to :) 

Glad to know I’m not going mad - although that’s debatable! :wink: I
don’t think it’s a British-Irish-Isles thing, I think it’s just
relative as to what folks can afford as to whether or not they are
affected by such a gap in the market. Us newbies in the business are
obviously going to be more cash-strapped than the experienced
jewellers of the group and so custom work is not going to be as
easily affordable to us and our like as it is to their customers.

Helen
UK