Rapaport Magazine

Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
Does Brilliance Sell Diamonds?

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: “How does a diamond’s brilliance affect sales? Do customers notice cut or sparkle?”

   “If it’s a younger customer, they’re more educated now and do more research on diamond buying than someone who is in their fifties and older. The customer in their fifties and older really depends on me to tell them what they should be buying. The younger customer shows up talking to me about what they want. They’ve already been on the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) website, American Gem Society’s (AGS) website, they’ve already shopped Blue Nile…they’ve been all over the place.
   “Does brilliance matter? Yes. I sell way fewer step cuts, way more brilliant or mixed cuts. And a lot of customers, especially younger guys in their twenties and thirties, are wanting me to demonstrate brilliance, which is pretty interesting. They’re most confused about fire, which I think is the easiest thing to explain. The breakup of white light into prismatic light is where the fire comes from and it’s easy to explain.”

   “We hear remarks all the time. The customer doesn’t know the right word to express it, whether it’s brilliance or scintillation or whatever, but they do remark about it all the time. I think it’s certainly a strong point. It’s easier to talk about how beautiful the brilliance is than not.
   “I think shape is probably still the point on the arrow. After shape, then we can talk about size and brilliance. I think that a very brilliant diamond versus a not-so-brilliant larger diamond, the brilliant diamond might win the toss. But it depends upon who’s doing the buying. With a male buying the diamond, who doesn’t know anything about diamonds, he might go for the larger diamond.”

   “Brilliance is one of the first things that we show clients, frequently before we ever discuss size or color or clarity. We stock a lot of diamonds and we display a lot of diamonds. I’ll frequently ask clients which speak to them. And then we get into the discussion on brilliance. It’s surprising how, when given the opportunity, people will recognize brilliance, even before they’re educated on it.
   “I don’t know that it’s the term customers know to use when they first come in. If they’ve been doing their internet studying, then they are focused on the angles and the table percentages and stuff like that. But ultimately, a lot of our presentations come back to brilliance as it relates to beauty. I wouldn’t say that I have that many consumers who necessarily come in and say they want to see comparisons in brilliance. But people do come in and want to learn. I’ve gotten very careful about using the terminology too much. Brilliance is definitely one of our buzzwords, but we relate it directly to beauty.”

   “We buy everything based on light performance and so do our customers, that’s why they come to us. With us, it’s not just baloney, it’s pure 100 percent factual science. We hang our hat on that. We’ve been advertising it that way heavily for 15 years, since the AGS lab opened. To us, by far and above, the most important thing about a diamond is the way it’s cut and the way it handles light. We’ve pinned our whole radio advertising on it. People have been hearing about diamonds being cut for maximum beauty instead of maximum weight for so long that it’s an expectation in our market when customers come here. They expect to be buying that. We don’t sell on price; we sell on beauty and that beauty corresponds back to the value of one versus the other. It’s what we’ve used to set ourselves apart. It’s true and factual.
   “Clearly, there’s not a customer who will understand light physics and how that relates back to a diamond unless you give them some education, The unfortunate thing is when it comes to that part of a diamond, it’s limiting what you’ll learn trying to do the research yourself on the internet. We have to be the person who interprets what it is they’ve read. In many cases, they come to the wrong conclusions. We’re known as the people who sell based on the finest cuts, the most brilliant diamonds that are available.”

Minneapolis, MINNESOTA
   “Disappointingly enough, the answer is ‘not so much.’ We have our group that’s more interested in things they see printed on a piece of paper, a cert, for instance. Part of the failing there is that all diamonds look brilliant to guys who are not used to looking at them. So it’s something we stress. But I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone ask for ‘the most brilliant diamond I can possibly buy.’ But we work hard on cut and try to stress the importance of it and try to convince people that it’s probably more important than color or clarity as far as how you want your diamond to look.”

   “Yes, I definitely think so. If you show customers a diamond that’s cut very well versus one that’s not, they can see the difference. But to a certain degree, it depends upon how you sell an item. If you have a person coming in for a different shape, where there is so much variation in the way it’s cut, then the cut may not be as much of a factor as it is with a round or a princess cut.
   “In general, sparkle matters; it plays a role. But sometimes shape might be the prime consideration. We do sell the ideal cut and sometimes those words — that it’s ideal or if you say excellent cut — might spark an interest in a customer. Some people are sold on concepts, as well.”

   “Yes, absolutely. Generally, when the customer is a male, we have to tell them that a woman likes sparkle. That’s what they see, so you want a well-cut diamond so it shows a lot of brilliance. We mainly emphasize the size and the brilliance of the diamond. The women automatically want that; the men need to be educated about it.”

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

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