Rapaport Magazine

By Phyllis Schiller
HOW ARE COLORED GEMSTONES SELLING?

 
Bayco
The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “Have you seen an uptick in sales of colored gemstones? Are customers asking for specific stones?”

RICHARD ROSS, PRESIDENT/OWNER
TILDEN ROSS JEWELERS
SARASOTA, FLORIDA
   “If you carry fine colored gemstones, people always appreciated them and they have always sold. We carry fine gemstones, so we do sell them. There hasn’t been an uptick other than that they have never been a weak segment of our merchandise mix. We do well with rubellite, we do well with aqua, we sold some beautiful tsavorite — we’ve had some beautiful pieces in those three stones. And opals are big this year, mostly in rings.”

EILEEN ALEXANIAN, CO-OWNER
DIAMONDS ’N DUNES
KITTY HAWK, NORTH CAROLINA
   “I would say sapphires continue to be desired. I have had more people interested in ruby, sapphire and emeralds — the classics. We continue to do birthstone jewelry in various forms, for a child and a young adult, and we have different fashion lines in silver and gold that feature a lot of colored stones, which fulfill that market. We sell blue topaz in precious gold and we also sell aquamarine, which are ‘sea colors’ and desirable in our area because of where we are located. But we haven’t really gone back into the more exotic colored stones. We do have clients who ask for fashion jewelry in color. But I’m not seeing nontraditional color as much.
   “We’re also trying to add colored diamonds — which provide some color but also add something different and more exotic — in white gold, which is more precious and a different price point.”

BRIAN LEVINE, PRESIDENT
BRIAN MICHAEL’S JEWELERS
TONAWANDA, NEW YORK
   “Precious stones are down a point or two and semiprecious is up by seven or eight points. In terms of which of the stones are selling best, sapphire is strong and nonglass-filled ruby, with emerald slightly behind.
   “There are those who will come in and ask for a specific stone, but there are a lot of customers in today’s world who are looking for a specific price point rather than a specific stone. They want something that looks impressive or is the style that the person they’re buying for will love. And the way fashion is now and the pricing of metal, they’re picking semiprecious, in silver with some gold on it, because of the price point and the look. It’s the whole picture of design.”

KELLY NEWTON, OWNER
NEWTON’S JEWELERS, INC.
FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS
   “Actually, we’re seeing an overall interest in everything. The whole last quarter was that way and it pretty much carried through January. The weather was not our friend, but so far, February has been great. We just sold a beautiful diamond and sapphire bracelet.
   “Customers will ask for color as a generic, not specific types of stones. It’s more what they see, and if they like it, they’ll ask about it. But diamonds are still outselling everything, of course. We’re just pleased customers are buying more of everything. It’s kind of all encompassing.”

KIT HEFFERN, PRESIDENT
ELLEARD HEFFERN FINE JEWELERS
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
   “In color, we’ve always done earrings, bracelets, rings. And color does sell very well. But we’ve always done a lot in color; there hasn’t been a dramatic uptick.”

GEORGE FOX, OWNER
FOX FINE JEWELRY
VENTURA, CALIFORNIA
   “Well-cut blue sapphire has sold lately, overall. And we sold a very big tsavorite, a pretty significant gem. In addition, people have been bringing in gemstones they purchased on the internet to have them made into jewelry. So yes, I have seen a small uptick in colored gemstone.
   “I’ve been a colored stone addict for many years and had a safe full of color for decades, which I would mount for people in custom orders and as we sold the gems, we’d replace them. We’ve bought a few medium-size blue sapphires in one-carat, one-and-a-half-carat and two-carat sizes. We’re doing pretty well with that.”

STEWART BRANDT, OWNER
H. BRANDT JEWELERS
NATICK, MASSACHUSETTS
   “No, I haven’t seen any uptick in colored gems. I stock more than my fair share in all categories from citrine to sapphire, ruby and emerald. We have them all. The only department where colored stone is strong is semiprecious stones set in sterling, fashion pieces. But fine color, unfortunately, is not producing.”

SCOTT BERG, MARKET PRESIDENT
LEE MICHAELS FINE JEWELRY
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
   “Unusual color has been good for us and higher-grade color, whether it be Colombian emeralds or no-heat sapphires or Paraiba tourmalines — bold, unique color, what I would classify as important stones. And then I would say important pieces with mixtures of color have sold well for us. Some of them incorporating diamonds, others not — tsavorites and sapphires, unique color palettes.
   “Color becomes important for some customers who are in a mature buying cycle and are looking for unusual pieces to add to their collections. Then color becomes very important because it makes a statement, it’s unique and it allows them to buy something that they don’t already have.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2014. To subscribe click here.

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