Shopping for Gemstone Jewelry? Knowledge is Key!

Dancing Slipper Petal Plush Pearl Pendant by Arpaia Jewelry on Italian Vermeil Chain
“Dancing Slipper” handcrafted pendant by Kimberly Arpaia. Petal Plush Pearls Collection by Arpaia Jewelry. Natural color cultured freshwater pearl with handmade dichroic glass and Swarovski crystal on 36″ Italian chain.

Today, gemstone treatments are prevalent. It is estimated that up to 95% of all ruby, sapphire, emerald, and tanzanite used in jewelry are treated.

Common gemstone treatments include heating, irradiation, dyeing, bleaching, impregnation, fracture filling, lattice diffusion, laser drilling, high pressure high temperature (HPHT), and surface modification.

These treatments and others are responsible for bringing many desirable gems to market, and in fact, are often necessary to meet the demand for some popular gems.

All known and suspected gemstone treatments must be disclosed at time of sale.

It is vital that consumers have this information in order to make informed purchases, and also to understand how treatments might affect wear, repair, and care.

Unfortunately, some retailers are not knowledgable about gemstone treatments or simply fail to disclose.

As a result, jewelry shoppers are best served by being aware of common gemstone treatments, at least enough to know what questions to ask before completing a sale.

In addition to understanding the differences between natural and treated gems, it is interesting and useful to know about synthetics and simulants (imitations).

All of these topics are covered in the Arpaia Jewelry Newsletter: Good Stuff to Know when Shopping for Gemstone Jewelry: A Friendly Primer on Gemstone Treatments, Synthetics, and Imitations. Just click this link!

Fluff Puff & Real Stuff

Real Stuff: Sharing Advice From Sales Coach, Pat Henneberry

Kimberly Arpaia: I like working with a fire in my belly, and I find that I am attracted to working with other people who have fire in their bellies. Whatever this fire arises from – knowledge, adrenaline, passion, ego, competitive will, discipline, desire to build, desire to please, or bursting creativity – it seems to supply an air of excitement and happiness for me that is like electricity.

Every jewelry design project that I undertake, whether on my own or by collaboration, is thrilling from the start. My cup does runneth over throughout the creative process.

When it comes to selling my original work, that same fire and excitement is there.  I am comfortable in my element, showing my lovely jewelry to potential buyers, and sharing my knowledge about the pieces.

Clients often express that I’m a super sales person. So why, then, is my conversion rate less than stellar?  I should be superb at selling the jewelry that I am so passionate about.  Why does this fire in my belly not drive most sales to a stunning close? I want to be more than just a good worker bee. I want to be a successful artist and business person.

Clearly, I need to develop enhanced sales techniques. Observant of this truth, I read a lot of advice from dynamic business people on the internet. Read. Listen. Learn.

I’m beginning to realize that the most practical time-honored methods are those that I forget when approaching a sale. I want all my beautiful jewelry to find loving homes. In my enthusiasm, I lose sight of the single crucial objective: to make a sale. Instead, I make a merry production. Not what the client wants. Not what the client needs. Clients want super fast and to be keenly interested. They don’t want to expend precious energy and time unnecessarily. Obviously, I could do much better with an easy, straightforward method. Yes, I still want my sales approach to be fluid and natural, but to be successful, I must become effective!

Henneberry-articleOf all the writings on point, I recently came across a salient article in National Jeweler by Pat Henneberry, Vice President of Global Learning and Development at Hearts On Fire, and Founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers.

The article is titled “Coach’s corner: 10 common mistakes salespeople make.” I think it aptly applies to business people in general. The points raised could be useful to successfully closing a sale, making a winning presentation, or succinctly articulating opinions and ideas.

The article references 10 mistakes. To reinforce how to conduct a sale, here I highlight Henneberry’s 10 points in the affirmative.

The first huge point that Henneberry makes is to be at your best during face-to-face time. Rock your customer’s world! 

Using some of my own words, and mixing in a few of my own thoughts and interpretations (hey … this is a blog), here is how Henneberry advises to rock your customer’s world during a sale (and I’m listening!):

1. Be on Time and Be Proactive. If you have a store, be sure to greet every customer within seconds from walk-in, otherwise the customer may feel unwelcome and uncared for.

2. Step Up your Appearance. Your appearance shows respect for your customer, makes you feel good, and lends credibility to you and what you are selling. While dressing down is common today, this is not true in the jewelry world. Jewelry customers deserve the best treatment and the best experience. Part of that experience is your appearance. It is wiser to be overdressed.

3. Treat Your Customer with Courtesy and Respect. Customers are not long lost friends, so acting way too friendly, verbally or physically, is just phony and “salesy.”

4. Listen Rather Than Talk. A genuine smile is your best asset. Get curious about your customer. Ask questions that prompt responses about what they want and that provide information that you need in order to help them. Build a relationship of trust.

5. Understand your Customer’s Position. Never get defensive or argue with a customer. If your customer does not agree with an important point, posturing will only set that opinion in concrete. Instead, be interested and ask why the customer holds that opinion. Then, really LISTEN. Not only might you learn something, but also, you will continue to build on that relationship of trust instead of deflating it.

6. Present your Jewelry Based on the Customer’s Needs. Don’t give a sales pitch. You don’t need to once you’ve learned what your customers wants. Base your discussion on your customer’s needs – use what you have learned.

7. Product Knowledge is Mandatory. Know everything about the product and brand you are selling as well as all policies pertaining to sale. This knowledge will enable you to respond to your customer’s questions on the spot. Customers do not want to hear “I’ll get back to you on that.” (My addition here: Provide pertinent key information even if the customer does not ask. For example, part of selling a piece of jewelry is explaining to the customer how to properly clean and care for it. Also, as a jewelry professional, you must disclose gem treatments and you should know how to easily explain them to your customer in a positive manner).

8. Hands Off Smartphone. Turn down sound completely on your phone. Keep phone out of sight and do not answer email, phone, or text when you are talking with a customer. Your customer is your universe!

9. Stay on Track. Your customer’s time has great value and young customers demand fast. Do not meander. Get to the point quickly and masterfully. Provide a brief (operative word) agenda of what you are going to show them and discuss. Keep it simple. (Me again: Be poignant. Everything should be geared toward the customer’s needs).

10. Say “Thank You” and Be Grateful. Your customer could be anywhere else, so thank them for their time and for trusting you.

Henneberry concludes her article with praise and encouragement (smart!): “Continue to be the great sales professional you are. Make those lifetime customers and hang in there when things get tough. Believe in yourself and always, ‘Make it the best sales day ever!'”