Rapaport Magazine

Eye on the future

Three industry insiders discuss how applying the latest know-how can optimize diamond screening, marketing and design.

By Diana Jarrett

From left: Harold Dupuy; Joanne Leitschuh; Ricardo Basta

Harold Dupuy
Vice president of strategic analysis, Stuller, Inc.
Lafayette, Louisiana

Lab-grown diamonds are the biggest technological boon to our industry. They offer consumers a choice and thus expand the size of the total consumer market. Both lab-grown and natural diamonds are growing and doing well. Rather than denigrating lab-grown diamonds, businesses should disclose everything and offer the consumer a choice.

Many on both the supply and retail side have been lax in acquiring proper diamond-screening technology to separate natural from lab-grown. [But]a reputation that’s taken years or decades to build can be destroyed by a single transaction if one doesn’t adapt to the screening technology readily available.

Customization has [also] swept over the jewelry industry this past decade.... To accommodate this growing demand, jewelers have adopted [computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM)] technology to gain efficiency and profitability.

Ricardo Basta
Founder, Ricardo Basta Fine Jewelry
Los Angeles, California

I was an early adopter of technology before others in my business were using it. In the 1990s, I became the first person in the US to acquire commercial laser-welding technology. I discovered it at a supplier in Rhode Island, which was the jewelry-manufacturing capital of the US at one time. What’s exciting for me as a jeweler now is to see potential new technology as it is being developed. For instance, at the trade shows, I’ve seen machines that can print on metal, bypassing wax models and printing directly into gold. So there’s a lot to look forward to as a jeweler.

But there are limitations to technology as well. Right now, there’s an explosion of CAD in our industry. Usually CAD designers are not jewelers, with no experience in actually making a piece of art. There is a difference between beautiful and gorgeous, and definitely between quality and high quality.

Joanne Leitschuh
Sales executive, Nicole Barr
Raleigh, North Carolina

Technology allows for robust marketing of our brand. It greatly improves our personal service to retailers from a sales rep’s perspective. The engagement and public awareness of our brand is bolstered through our website and social media pages. These tools make it easy to educate our customers about the art of enameling [and to] express the beauty of Nicole Barr jewelry through creating their own story — as well as helping them with inventory control.

These platforms expand our engagement, and we are beginning to “visit” more with our customers — old and new — through Zoom meetings and Facebook Live presentations. Advances in technology will only make this easier and more natural. As trust and enthusiasm are important in business, we can only see this area grow, and it’s so lovely to actually see each other!

Jewelers must stay on top of public engagement. The know-how to keep areas of privacy secure should always remain number one. And consumers have many outlets today for voicing their opinions. But if you always offer good customer service, there isn’t a concern about public negative reviews.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - February 2022. To subscribe click here.

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