Fellow Orchidians, I’m lucky enough to live near both Philadelphia
and NYC, which have robust “jeweler’s rows” and have a question.
Many of the very intriguing suppliers post big “wholesale only” and
"wholesale to the trade" signs, thereby discouraging retail and
casual buyers from their shops. As my jewelry designing has been
growing, I’m now getting more interested in buying matched sets of
stones, specialty items, etc., that either aren’t available from
retailers, or that would be priced in a way that could drive up my
prices and/or drive down my margin to an insupportable point.
My question is actually pretty simple – how do you “break the
barrier” of entry to these wholesalers to the trade? What
documentation do they expect? Do they work only by appointment?
How significant is the price differential, typically, between
wholesale to the trade and retail?
Also, for anyone in the Philadelphia area, are there any places
you’d especially recommend for buying stones (low-end matched stones
to start with, like turquoise, malachite, garnet, etc.)? (I like to
see them in person, rather than buy online for now, since I’m still
pretty new at this. I’d particularly like to feel comfortable that
I’m going to someone with an excellent reputation where I’m not
going to get taken advantage of.