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Showing Off Sparkle

The AGS has an easy way to show consumers how cut gives a diamond its dazzle.

By Ettagale Blauer
The magic of a diamond is the way it captures and returns light in the form of thousands of sparkles. The more perfectly cut the diamond, the better the light return and the greater the number of sparkles. But how can a retailer demonstrate that light return to a customer at the sales counter without getting into a mind-numbing scientific explanation? If you’re an American Gem Society (AGS) retailer, the power to make the point lies in the Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool, known as ASET.

Show and Tell
   This compact proprietary viewing device enables a retailer to show a customer the difference in the cut quality of different diamonds. It graphically demonstrates the symmetry of a diamond’s facets using a display of colors. The different color patterns resemble the images viewed through kaleidoscopes but ASET images have very specific meanings. It takes virtually no special training to be able to see the contrasting areas of color that indicate the angles from which an individual diamond gathers light. A display of reds shows the diamond has very good symmetry; green indicates light return from an indirect source; blue indicates a contrast pattern of dark reflections. Black areas indicate light leakage, a sign of a diamond that is very poorly cut.
   The ASET itself is about six inches in diameter with a single eyepiece for viewing that resembles a standard jeweler’s loupe. Both loose and mounted diamonds can be viewed using the device although it does the best job on unmounted diamonds. The tool was developed by AGS as a way to demonstrate its cut grade system and establish the benefit and value of a very well cut diamond. Even good diamonds pale in comparison to the sparkles emanating from excellent cut diamonds.

A Selling Tool
   How good is the device? Just ask Mark Moeller, who has placed ASET on the counter in all three of his R.F. Moeller stores in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area. “Our salespeople use the tool very efficiently and effectively on ‘zero’ cuts or ‘excellent’ cuts. Just this year, we had a customer come into the store with a pair of earrings that he had purchased from a competitor for $20,000. When this customer looked at those earrings in the ASET in comparison to a pair of my earrings, the reaction was ‘Wow.’ He returned the diamonds to the other store and bought the earrings from me — for $44,000. The power of the ASET made that sale.”
   Moeller says the tool is very easy to use. “It’s a countertop tool and it is lit; it’s small but impressive looking.” Moreover, he adds, “The customer can see in the blink of an eye” whether a diamond is finely cut because the symmetry is indicated through the different colors. His stores “use it for rounds and princess diamonds. Rounds are 80 percent of our business.”
   An ASET viewing is a far cry from the more traditional way of explaining the relative merits of different diamonds and Moeller says the customer who sees the differences between two diamonds demonstrated so clearly usually “is willing to pay for the better diamond.”
   Moeller, who says he was involved in AGS’ development of ASET in 2005, notes, “The tool was developed on scientific data; there is science behind it. There are machines that measure light performance but those are calibrated; you don’t calibrate this machine.” That’s a huge advantage to a retailer who knows he can rely on the tool to deliver consistent results. In addition, customers don’t have to understand the science of light refraction to use ASET because the color-coded analysis of the diamond’s symmetry and cut is so obvious.
   There is a difference between the way men and women relate to seeing diamonds in the ASET, Moeller says. For men, it confirms the technical information on the diamond’s cut that they’ve been given. Women look at it from the standpoint of the beauty of the diamond. In his stores, three-quarters of the diamond sales come from men buying for women but the share of female self-purchasers is growing. “Women self-purchasing is definitely changing,” he adds. “Women are becoming empowered.”

Compelling Comparisons
   John Carter, owner of Jack Lewis Jewelers in Bloomington, Illinois, finds the ASET to be invaluable both at the counter and on the road. His sales approach is to show a well-cut diamond, but not a triple zero diamond, first. Then he brings out the triple zero stone and the ASET does the selling for him. His diamonds in display cases have color-coded tags to make it easy for any salesperson to quickly select the right stone for the demonstration.
   “When you show an AGS triple zero diamond, I call it ‘Hearts and Arrows on steroids.’ We sell Lazare Kaplan diamonds. When you look at the Lazare in ASET, the difference is in there; it’s like a switch turns on. I find it a compelling tool. If you are going to spend $8,000 to $9,000 on a 1 carat, shouldn’t the stone be exceptional?”
   When he uses the tool, Carter explains, “The initial demonstration is impressive to men and women. But women want a nice ring; for men, size is more important. It’s an ego thing. With this tool, I can show that you don’t have to spend more. Take your budget and get an ideal cut, three-quarter carat. It will make up for lack of size with more sparkles; it will look better.”
   Carter adds that while the ASET does do a pretty good job with princess cuts, it does an exceptional job with rounds. “This is the best sales device I have ever seen for use at the counter to talk about beauty. It’s super easy to use. We had one and one-half hours of training with an AGS consultant and my 18 year-old employees used it the first day.”

A Buying Tool
   AGS retailers also can use ASET to help them make diamond buying decisions. The tool increases confidence in the purchase while decreasing the amount of time needed to evaluate a stone. Carter recently took the countertop ASET on a buying trip to Antwerp, the first time he has done so. Working with the device’s own turntable, which clips on top of the ASET, he used his cell phone to take photos of the diamonds he was considering. He then sent photos of the diamonds directly to customers who had requested specific stones before he left the States. It’s part of his “Carter’s Going Overseas” marketing program, which virtually brings the customer along on his diamond buying trips.
   The tool made a dramatic difference in his confidence when buying important diamonds in Antwerp, where he had only 48 hours to make his buying decisions. “I was going through a parcel of 50 diamonds. Usually, I would look for make first, then eliminate them by color and clarity. With the ASET, you don’t have to go back for a second look; it does it all for you.” Carter was shopping for a 4-carat stone for a client. After sending a photo of a 3.90-carat round stone directly from the ASET to his client, she responded that she wanted a cushion instead. He found a beautiful 4-carat stone, confident, thanks to the ASET, that it was a good purchase. “For bigger stones, it’s really important to be able to make those decisions quickly and with confidence.”
   When Carter used the tool in Antwerp, he said, “Seasoned diamantaires were very excited to see it. The ASET makes the buying more precise. It stepped up my game. I saved about 15 percent by being able to buy the diamonds at the parcel price — and pulling some really nice diamonds from a parcel.” In the narrow margins of diamond buying and selling, that’s a huge advantage. 

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2013. To subscribe click here.

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