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How to present dyed pearls?

Dear All,

I think we all can agree that disclosure of materials is important
and expected. I sell at juried arts shows, and 90 percent of my
designs are in 14k gold, with the remainder in sterling silver and
niobium. I do one of a kind pieces set with genuine I
really love pearls and as such I work with them quite a lot. Many of
todays freshwater pearls are dyed, and I feel compelled to pass this
info along to people shopping in my booth. Somehow, even though I’m a
pretty tactful person with a pretty good command of the English
language, I have difficulty conveying in a positive way that the
pearls are dyed. When asked about the pearls, I relay that they are
freshwater pearls, and that the color is enhanced or produced with a
permanent dye, that the process is proprietary so I can’t explain
much on how it is actually done, and that the dye is permanent. I
tell them I experimented for about a year before introducing them
into my line, having family members wear them on a regular basis, and
that I feel confident the dye is permanent. People find the
experimenting part sort of funny (many ask if they can be part of my
next experiment). Still, people seem less excited about the pearls
after we chat about the color. What do all of you do?

Also, when selling colored do you find it important to
tell the person the sapphire they are looking at is heat treated, or
is having a general disclosure on the receipt good enough for you? If
you bring it up, when in the conversation do you mention it? Right
away, after you are certain they love the piece, or what?

Several times this year my booth has been next to other jewelers
booths, and I overhear a decided lack of info about what is being
sold. I need to figure this out so I’m comfortable and so my customer
base understands what they are buying, without being freaked out by
the info.

Any advice?

Brenda Nesheim-Fuller
Nesheim Fuller Design
Mason City, Iowa


If I can expand you question, I would phrased it like this: When we
are selling an article of jewellery, what exactly are we selling?

In my opinion it is irrelevant what it is made from as long as
design is appropriate to the material chosen. Karl Faberge once said
that a jewel is made precious by the craftsmanship expended on it,
and not by the material it is made from.

I do commission work from the material customer requests, but when I
do my own designs, most of the time I am using silver and synthetic
stones. I only using gold if yellow color is required. I was told many
times that if only the same piece would have been made in gold with
diamonds, they would buy it on the spot, but cheapness of material
turns them off. I always respond by offering them a phone number of my
broker, because they are looking for investment while I am selling

Discussion about gemstones treatment is very intellectually
stimulating, and I understand why disclosure is good practice, but
the most important disclosure is never made. That is an article of
jewellery, even if it is made from gold and diamonds, can be only
resold for negligent amount compared to the price originally paid. The
only jewellery which retain their value and even increase in value
are these which have design and craftsmanship as their main

What I am trying to say is that sell your designs and quality of
execution, inform the customer of what it made from, but educate him
of what is really of value in the jewellery that she is buying.

Leonid Surpin


I have struggled with the problem of other dealers being less than
truthful about items which are enhanced. Our Federal Trade
Commission guide is where our troubles begin. Gemstones are described
as having value and disclosure of treatments which enhance their
value are required to be disclosed. Many dealers interpret this as
anything is OK, as long as they do not tell an outright untruth, they
do not have to disclose if the value is not affected. Also the value
must be of a certain undecided figure to apply to the FTC Guide. My
rule is to tell the customer everything I know about the product.
Bad and good. Let them decide. Some walk and some become customers
for life.

Gerry Galarneau


Yes, disclosure is important, as is the trust between artist and
customer. However, there’s such a thing as "too much "
Remember Shakespeare’s line “Methinks the lady doth protest too

I also use a blend of stones and pearls in my work. The vast
majority of the stones are natural; when I use a lab-grown stone, I
make it clear by telling the customer (and labelling it as such on my
website), but I don’t dwell on that fact. “That pin features a
gorgeous lab-grown pink sapphire set into one-of-a-kind cast sterling
silver, surrounded by white diamonds.” Likewise, with pearls, I might
say that “This necklace has natural pink and contrasting iridescent
freshwater pearls.” If the custom asks if the iridescent pearls are
dyed, I’ll say “Yes; whenever you see pearls of this color, they are
dyed, as it is a color that doesn’t occur naturally in this
intensity. The dyes used in the industry are permanent and
well-tested.” Then I’ll continue the conversation about the design or
execution of the piece and highlight its design features.

The point is that if I don’t make a big deal out of the dyeing or
the lab-grown stone, my client generally doesn’t see it as a big
deal. If I were to dwell on how i had to test it and have others test
it instills a subconscious level of doubt in the client – if it took
me a year to trust it, why should they do so on the basis of a few
minutes’ acquaintance?

Likewise, with stones, if someone asks more about them, I’ll explain
the difference structurally and price-wise between lab-grown and
natural in that particular stone and will indicate that for clients
who wish the piece with the natural stone, I’ll be happy to make the
substitution (at the appropriate price). When folks understand that
the lab-grown stone is not a simulated stone but structurally the
same material (lab-grown corundum vs natural corundum, say), it’s
VERY rare that I’ll have someone want me to switch the stones. But if
they do, I’m happy to do so. I also haven’t had anyone walk away from
the sale of the piece on the basis of the stone being lab-grown
instead of natural. With the exception of CZ vs diamond, whenever I
use a human-created stone, I make sure it’s a lab-grown synthetic,
rather than a simulant, and only buy from the most reputable sources.

It reminds me a bit of when some friends of ours were visiting when
our daughter was about 3. Our (at that time, childless) friend was
reading a Disney story to our daughter and came to the part where one
of the villains is thrown from the castle wall to his death (or some
such). He was so flustered about not wanting to traumatize Katie in
any way that he kept “dwelling” on the topic and revisiting it to
make sure that she was ok with it. The end result being that she paid
much more attention to the episode than she would have if he’d just
kept reading. An interesting learning episode for all of us.

I hope these insights help a bit!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

And I should have mentioned that I handle any heat treatments that
I’m aware of in the same way…