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Are Colored Gemstones Selling?

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By Phyllis Schiller
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: “Is colored gemstone jewelry popular with your customers?”

GRETCHEN BRAUNSCHWEIGER, CO-OWNER
BRAUNSCHWEIGER JEWELERS
MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY

“It tends to be a lot of paler colors selling right now — lemon citrine, pale green amethyst, pale pink morganite. It definitely seems to be a lot more pastels than vibrant colors. Probably one of the only little bit darker stones I can think of that does well is smoky quartz, because that’s fairly neutral, and brown has become a softer, very popular alternative to black.

“We’ve always done pretty well with colored gemstones. We’re not a heavily diamond-only store and we’ve always carried a fair amount of colored gemstones. And we stock some of the bigger names like David Yurman, who does a lot with color, and John Hardy. We sell Marco Bicego, who mixes a lot of multicolors, and we have Getana, which also has a lot of softer colored stones in general. Pendants and necklaces tend to do very well. A lot of people will think of that as a good place to start. And in David Yurman, bracelets are always a big thing.

“I think people are choosing color as a fashion thing, not for price point. They’re choosing the colors they like and then they pick something in their price range, not the other way around. Birthstone rarely enters into it — just occasionally. That’s more of a thing with mothers, wanting a bracelet with their new baby’s birthstone, or the dad will buy something with it. Or people buy it for a gift. But, by and large, that’s not a huge push with most people when buying for themselves.” 

CHARLA HALL, MANAGER
BAKER & BAKER JEWELERS
MARIETTA, OHIO

“I think that diamonds are still the number-one selling piece, especially when a gentleman comes in, unless it’s a birthstone or for a new birth in the family. I think that the younger generation is doing more of the semiprecious gemstones, whereas the older generation is sticking to the rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

“It used to be more of the suites of necklaces and earrings, but rings are becoming very popular. If they are doing the less expensive stones, they’re doing bigger ones, like topaz and that type of stone, as more of a fashion piece.” 

PETER AHEE, PRESIDENT
EDMUND T. AHEE JEWELERS
GROSSe POINTe WOODS, MICHIGAN

“Our best-selling colored stone, and most-looked-at jewelry, is our sapphire collection. It’s more the higher-end, significant pieces. It ranges from a 7- or 8-carat sapphire ring with diamonds around it down to something more moderate. I think in the past, we’d sell more just diamond jewelry and now colored gemstone is more prominent again.”  

ED MENK, OWNER
E.L. MENK JEWELERS
BRAINERD, MINNESOTA

“We’re rather slow in colored gemstones right now. Not a real high percentage of sales are in colored gems — diamonds are going better. It will probably pick up again, especially in lesser expensive, bigger stones, because of price points, for the holidays.”  

JIM WATTERS, PRESIDENT
BRUCE WATTERS INC.
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA

“Colored gemstones are always steady for us. We just sold a nice sapphire and a nice emerald. And some other, $1,500 to $3,000 diamond and ruby, diamond and sapphire pendants and things like that. We carry really high-end so when people are looking for something nice, they come to us.” 

MARK HAYDEN, OWNER
HAYDEN JEWELERS
LIVERPOOL, NEW YORK

“Color is selling okay. I stock everything. Diamonds sell better — people are going more toward the fancy shapes because of the prices; it seems they haven’t gone up as much as everything else. In terms of the colored gemstones, not as many bracelets as there used to be because of gold prices. Pendants and rings sell; rings are always popular. And a lot of people buy around their birthstones.”  

MARK AND MONIKA CLODIUS, CO-OWNERS
CLODIUS & COMPANY JEWELERS
ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS

“We love color; it’s always been an important part of our store. When some other jewelers decided to focus more on diamonds, they left an opening for modest price points. It’s a category we’ve looked to fill.

“We’ve been doing more colored gemstone jewelry in silver, which has been going very well. And birthstones also tend to sell well. On the highest end of color, we’ve been finding more sales of colored diamonds.” 

KIT HEFFERN, PRESIDENT
ELLEARD HEFFERN FINE JEWELERS
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

“We’ve always done well with colored gemstones, and in particular, with blue sapphire. Rings are by far the most popular choice, certainly by value — the traditional sapphire-diamond three-stone ring.

“I don’t think there’s been any increased interest in colored gemstones for bridal. It’s still almost all diamond; just now and then, a colored gemstone will sell, but it’s infrequent.”  

JIM MESSIER, PRESIDENT
ARTHUR’S JEWELRY
BEDFORD, VIRGINIA

“Color has been good. For us, it’s sapphires. The ‘Princess Di’ engagement ring that we sold 25 years ago has come back around. We knew how to make it again. Sapphire rings have always been pretty strong for us and I think it tends to be pretty common in the South. But the royal engagement created a lot of interest. We do fairly well with earrings and pendants as well; bracelets are dead for us.” 

MICHAEL BRYANT, PRESIDENT
BRYANT & SONS LTD.
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA

“Sapphires are selling well. There’s been a little uptick lately with the Lady Di phenomenon in blue sapphires. Overall, usually, it’s pretty steady for us, rubies and emeralds, but it’s more sapphires lately. Mostly, we’re selling rings and pendants, more traditional Lady Di-looking things with diamonds. We’re selling a few more sapphires as engagement rings but mostly, the larger percentage, is for an additional ring to add to other diamond jewelry they already have.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2011. To subscribe click here.

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