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Where do you find your stones?


#1

Hi guys, I’m working on an article for Colored Stone magazine about
how the market for loose color is changing. One way that I can think
of is the growing availability of designer jewelry, which has given
retailers an alternative to buying loose color and making the jewelry
themselves. Which brings up the question, where do designers get
their stones? If you’re creating and selling colored stone jewelry,
where do you buy your stones? Do you go to trade shows, buy online,
or work with a handful of dealers you have established relationships
with? Where do you find new dealers? What makes for a good
relationship, and what’s likely to send you shopping elsewhere?

I’d also welcome anyone else’s thoughts on how the market for loose
color may be changing. My editor’s original suggestion was that bench
jewelers were disappearing, but I haven’t seen any evidence for that
idea. (Least of all on Orchid!) Is the traditional gem dealer and
bench jeweler going the way of the dodo? If so, what’s appearing in
their place? I’d like to hear what you guys think.

Thanks in advance!

Suzanne
Suzanne Wade
writer/editor
Suzanne@rswade.net
http://www.rswade.net
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255


#2

Dear Suzanne, This is a subject my friend Jeff Gram of
www.cabbers.com and I talk about every time we get together. He has
sources all over the world which gives an interesting view of the
market. I think your assessment about retailers making their own
jewelry is correct. I feel the internet is taking one of the levels
between customers and manufactures away. This is good for the
consumer but, has an effect on mid size manufactures and “old
fashion” retailers. I think it will ultimately help the small
designer because we will be the only difference in a global market.
If you want our designs and work, the originals , you will have to
come to us. Or you can have what every one else has. This may not
actually be a big change in the market only amplifying what already
exists. The amplification takes place in the removal of middlemen and
dilution of unique designs through mass production. I like to use the
auto industry as an analogy. American manufactures were not for a
long time paying attention to the market and the market went away.
Then through agonizing change the big 3 got their act together and
modernized and got rid of the old ideas and jumped on the band wagon.
I think you can argue that this was bad for the US labor market but,
I also would argue that change effects everyone and anyone looking
forward would see the US labor market was overpriced in a global
sense. This is exactly the position I found myself in a few months
ago with a workshop full of smiths. To pay them and cover health
insurance and FICA and all other aspects of doing business was
burying me. So do I price myself out of the market so I can afford
the labor, am I that special? Hell no. Get rid of the workers,
contract out and stay in business. How would going down with the
ship help any one? The stone cutters and bench jewelers are facing
the same thing. Specialize and stay in business, get lean and mean.
This is totally callous but, it is reality.

I think the colored stone market will be more available directly to
the consumer via the internet. Good or bad, the supply lines are
shortening from the mines to cutters to manufactures to consumer.
Small business will survive by being unique and repairing all the
crap people got from big companies who don’t provide that service.
Who can’t provide service at a profit. And once we all get used to
that it will all change again. OK, enough ranting , Sam Patania,
Tucson


#3

Hi Suzanne, For my purposes, I generally buy from a couple of gem
dealers I have known for over 20 years, and then I have a list of
resources I go to when they cannot fill my needs. I usually only go
to gem shows to get rough that I can’t otherwise find. I can’t
comment on the bench jeweler issue, as the ones I know are doing just
fine (as long as QVC, etc. sell “jewelry”, the repair business will
do well). However, one notable change in the gem business I have
noticed over the past several years is that many colored stone
dealers now produce their own line of finished jewelry to augment
their loose stone sales. Usually the work is done overseas, so the
prices are quite competative. You might want to look at this area of
change for part of your article.

Best regards,
John


#4
Which brings up the question, where do designers get their stones?
If you're creating and selling colored stone jewelry, where do you
buy your stones? Do you go to trade shows, buy online, or work with
a handful of dealers you have established relationships with? 

The question is who is the designer. Is it the local artist who
does local art shows and sells on consignment to the local jewelers,
or is it the large manufacture who expects to sell several thousand
of each piece they manufacture. The answer will be quite different
for these two examples. Which question do you want answered?

Don


#5

Hi, I am a designer/goldsmith working out of my retail gallery in
Central Maine. 90% of the gems I use are bought here in my shop.
Small scale independent dealers visit me 2-3 times a year. I have
noticed that the quality from these dealers has gone up over the
years, setting them aside from the run of the mill commercial
dealers found through various wed sites, and trade magazines.

I will find new dealers at trade shows. I will be turned off to a
dealer when I am sent lower quality gems then I requested, or if
asking for matches, I receive, “This is the best I have.” I find it
a BIG turn off, and a waste of my time and money, when a dealer is
more interested in reducing inventory, then satisfying my request.

Be Well,
David


#6

Hi, I am a designer/goldsmith working out of my retail gallery in
Central Maine. 90% of the gems I use are bought here in my shop.
Small scale independent dealers visit me 2-3 times a year. I have
noticed that the quality from these dealers has gone up over the
years, setting them aside from the run of the mill commercial
dealers found through various wed sites, and trade magazines.

I will find new dealers at trade shows. I will be turned off to a
dealer when I am sent lower quality gems then I requested, or if
asking for matches, I receive, “This is the best I have.” I find it
a BIG turn off, and a waste of my time and money, when a dealer is
more interested in reducing inventory, then satisfying my request.

Be Well,
David


#7

Suzanne;

I definitely find myself using the Internet more to source, locate
and purchase rough and Now I can afford to design the
jewelry first and locate the stones after I have exact
specifications regarding material, size, price, quality,
etc.

One of my favorite places is www.creativegem.com, highly
recommended!! Usual disclaimer follows=85

B James
InTrande Studio
@InTrand


#8

Hi Suzanne,

I hope it is ok to give a point of view of color stone changes from
one who sells My business and selling techniques have
changed tremendously from 1998 until now. The Internet has changed
so rapidly and has become a wonderful viable tool to reach my
customers. I used to sell at wholesale trade shows, visit my
customers, and send out print catalogues. This has been replaced by
my online website catalogue. It has made life easier physically, and
less stressful. Of course if there is a computer glitch or server
crash the stress level goes way up! Advertising for me has remained
the same with the added tool of using the Internet. I totally have
done away with a print catalogue. My website is my catalogue. It has
over 2500 hundred pictures which can be updated on a daily basis and
is more accurate than most printed pictures. It is much faster and
easier to show the jeweler a new product.

Another big change, is that I do receive more e-mails for business
than I do telephone calls. The jeweler does not have to leave their
studio. I have had jewelers look at the stones on line, design their
piece with the picture in front of them. Because the online photos
are so accurate the jeweler sees exactly what they are getting and
there are very few dissappointed customers. This cuts down on the
return rate tremendously.

Selling now takes place around the clock as the website store is
never closed.

I will say I do miss the excitement of a trade show, the getting
ready, the setting up and the one on one contact. Maybe from time to
time I will again do a trade show if my husband has more time to
help me and hopefully will have more time to develop his own style
of stone cutting so I can include it with my regular suppliers.

Another aspect where the traditional gem dealer is changing is the
consumer now has access directly to rough dealers, cutters and
suppliers via the Internet. Weather one totally cuts their own
stones or reps a cutter does not matter. Every dealer has different
materials and styles to offer and not every dealer can offer
everything that every jeweler needs. Courtesy, respect for the
customer, respect for competitive suppliers, respect for ones own
suppliers, fairness in disclosure and price, and quality product are
important to stay in business especially during these difficult
times.

I feel that the jewelry and gemstone industry has become more open
with knowledge and due to home shopping shows such as
QVC, and largely to the Internet. Orchid has in my view played a
large part. Hanuman is a very special person to develop this site
for the knowledge and well being of the miner, to the supplier, to
the manufacturer/designer, to the retail store and the end customer.
Due to all of this, the end customer is now more savvy and
knowledgeable.

Diane Sadel http://www.sweetgemstones.com


#9

Since it seems that many are asking about stone sources, I guess it
is not out of line to mention our website as a resource -
www.worldwidegemstones.net .

Our emphasis is on high quality Jasper and Agate (another recent
topic). I know that we count a number of Orchid members among our
satisfied customers and we do offer a way for a designer to purchase
one or two stones at any time just by visiting our site.

Lee LeFaivre
Worldwide Gemstones


#10

All, I have been monitoring a steady change for the past 20 years.
Change has taken place in both the jewelry store owners and the
gemstone dealers. Most are not any longer manufacturers with their
own two hands of items they sell. Most jewelry store owners and
gemstone dealers started as workers in their trades. They made the
jewelry or cut the stones. Gradually that evolved to a business
where the jewelry store owner or gemstone dealer had others working
directly for them that manufactured items they sold. Now the business
has evolved to one where that most if not all labor is provided off
site and the business owner has only responsibility to place the
order, deliver the goods, collect the money, and pay the
manufacturers. A lot of jewelry store owners and gemstone dealers
are getting finished goods directly from Asia. Often the goods are
sent on memo and are paid for when sold or changed out when the Asian
dealer comes to the USA to participate in a major jewelry or gem
show. Other manufacturers from Italy, Brazil, Australia, Columbia,
and Bali are trying very hard to enter this market. So where does
this leave the aspiring gemstone cutter or bench jeweler in the USA?
Usually in a very low paying position in a shop or struggling from
day to day to establish a business. Both gemstone cutters and bench
jewelers have to love their work because right now the compensation
received for their labor is very low. In my business of gemstone
cutting I am doing well at the moment. Changes I made this last year
have put me into competition with the retailers of jewelry. I have
been able to hold my own by controlling access to my products. I do
not manufacture for anyone. I cut stones and offer them for sale
directly to customers. In the future I will have a line of custom
jewelry made in the USA by people like myself who love making items.
We will sell these directly to customers. Wholesale and retail
have become blurred to the extent they no longer exist. People who
want price breaks need to buy in quantity. People who do not want to
pay taxes need to get a business license. That’s where I am after 24
years in this business.

Gerry Galarneau
www.galarneausgems.com
@Gerry