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Affordability helps colored stones grab attention

posted Apr 12, 2010, 12:35 PM by Alex Barcados


The recession has pummeled almost all jewelry categories, and colored gemstones have their share of bruises.  

In National Jeweler's latest Product Panel, which focused on colored gemstones, the greatest percentage of respondents respondents, 42 percent, reported that the recession has negatively impacted their sales of colored gemstones and colored gemstone jewelry.

Still, there is good news for those who enthusiastically stock their display cases with ruby rings and peridot pendants: Since many colored gemstones offer a more affordable alternative to diamonds, they seem to be catching the eyes of more budget-minded consumers. 

A total 39 percent of survey respondents said that the recession has actually driven their colored gemstone sales higher. 

Meanwhile, 48 percent reported that their colored stone sales are climbing as a percentage of overall sales, up from just 32 percent who reported this as a trend last year.

See the full survey results by clicking here. 

Margin advantages

When pressed about the pros and cons of colored gemstone jewelry, respondents had a hard time listing any negatives.

But one positive that kept coming up was that jewelers can make better margins on colored gemstones than they can with diamonds.

"The margins on diamonds are so low now and I am trying to get into really nice colored stones because the margins are better," one survey-taker wrote. "Colored stones are blind to the consumer, and diamonds are not. The Internet has ruined the diamond industry and we are just trying to adapt and come up with better ways to make money."

Know what you're selling

Colored gemstone sales, however, are not for every jeweler, respondents note.

Retailers who decide to carry color must be educated on the various gemstones that they are selling.

"You need to know your merchandise and be able to answer your customers' questions about all aspects [of colored stones], from hardness to enhancements," one panelist wrote.

Those who are able to offer insight might find themselves with an advantage over the competition.

"I can carry a higher markup because of the knowledge of gemstones in this area," one panelist wrote. "Most retailers that I have as competition have little knowledge pertaining to colored gemstones. This makes us the authority in the area [and is] good for sales."  
By Michelle Graff

March 17, 2010 
Editor's note: This story first appeared in the February 2010 print edition of National Jeweler.