When you step inside a jewellery store, more than likely you’re going to encounter good cop bad cop, red herring, and high-pressure selling. In this tutorial, I’ll be talking more about the specific tricky sales tactics that I’ve come across when shopping for diamonds.
Tactic #1: Seeing is Believing
The problem here is that with the kind of diamonds that I usually recommend, it’s simply not possible to be able to pick out which is the better diamond with the naked eye. This is especially true under jewellery store lighting. If you’re going to inspect a diamond in person, make sure you look at it through an H&A viewer, idealscope, or ASET.
The trick often used is that the comparison you’ll likely be making is not a fair one; like comparing a well cut low color diamond with a poorly cut high color diamond. The sales will usually focus on one aspect of the diamond that they will try to convince you that it is the most important.
Tactic #2: Cleaning your Jewellery
If a jewellery store sees that you or a friend is wearing diamond jewellery, they will often offer to clean your jewellery. The objective here is to read into your existing jewellery to see what they can sell you.
There was this one time my wife and I walked into a jewellery store to look at some diamond rings for a friend. After cleaning my wife’s diamond, we watched in amazement as the sales tapped his oily finger on her diamond before explaining to us how the diamond he was trying to sell us is brighter.
The trick is that a layer of oil can change the refractive index on a diamond so that it has the effect of making the diamond ‘look’ like it has steeper angles and hence become less bright.
Tactic #3: Using the Setting as an Excuse
In a complete turnaround of tactic 1, there are many things that sales can say to try to convince you that what you’re seeing isn’t real. Let’s say you’re comparing two diamonds and you think that a loose diamond is more yellow or smaller for the same carat weight than a diamond set in a ring.
It is a typical tactic to reassure you that you’re seeing an illusion by telling you that the diamond will appear whiter in a white setting and will appear larger when in a setting. They will then promptly show you how a diamond appears more yellow when it’s in a yellow gold setting.
The tricky thing here is that the comparison diamond usually has a lot of leakage and therefore is indeed impacted by the gold color. But this will not be the case for a well-cut diamond with excellent light return.
The best thing you can do is to look at the certificate for size and understand how color is graded from the side and that face-up color is more affected by lighting than by the body color of the diamond.
Tactic #4: Using Jewellery Store Lighting
Jewellery store lighting is designed to hide the flaws in diamonds by having multiple direct light sources aimed at the diamonds. If you’ve never noticed, you just have to look up the next time you walk past a display case and you’ll see what I mean. Rows of spotlights or LEDs will guarantee that even the dullest diamond will appear full of life.
But the tricky thing is that even the color temperature of the lights is carefully selected to make the sale. If the store carries diamonds that are typically lower in color, they will use lights with a cooler temperature to offset the yellow in the diamonds.
But if the store also carries a wide selection of yellow gold, you may notice that store uses warmer color spot lighting to make the gold more appealing. The problem for diamond sales is that this makes all their diamonds appear to face-up yellow so they’ll be quick to point this out to you making it almost impossible for you to judge diamond color in the store.
Tactic #5: Using the Rapaport Price List
Many jewellery stores will try to convince you that they are giving you insider information by referring to the Rapaport Price List. They will usually tell you that every single diamond dealer in the world uses these price lists to price their diamonds. Now to a large extent it is true, as jewellers indeed use the Rap List to facilitate weekly price updates.
The trick is that jewellers will not tell you how the Rap List actually works and I’ve previously discussed this in the Rapaport Price List tutorial so I won’t go into it here.
Another way jewellery store sales use the Rap List is to quote a price for you based on what seems like a calculation from the Rap List and then give you a time limit. They will tell you that the reason is because the prices change weekly. They will also tell you that diamond prices always go up.
This is simply a high-pressure sales tactic in disguise. In my experience there is no way a good and honest dealer will not honour a previous quote even if the Rap price has changed once.
Tactic #6: Special Cuts
I once asked a jeweller to help me find a diamond, which is better than my wife’s current round diamond. I was told to consider a ‘new’ design, which turned out to be a radiant cut diamond, which was first designed in 1977. I wouldn’t exactly call it new, but I was told that the radiant cut diamond was better because it has more facets so it will definitely be more sparkly.
I didn’t hold it against the sales because more facets does mean greater scintillation in terms of sheer quantity of flashes, but remember that it also means smaller flashes.
What was tricky is that a modern round brilliant cut diamond with 57-facets doesn’t sparkle less; it just sparkles differently. The popularity and timelessness of the design tells me that the majority of people seem to prefer the way the modern round brilliant cut sparkles.
Tactic #7: Selling Fluorescence
A very common sales tactic is to tell you that buying a diamond with fluorescence is some kind of industry secret that only smart people who have done their research would do. The sales pitch goes by telling you that fluorescence is bad in a colourless diamond in the DEF color range but the opposite is true for diamonds in the JKLM color range. It seems like a win-win situation; the diamond is less expensive and you get a whiter diamond, but prosumers know to be careful when things seem a bit too good to be true.
It is true that blue fluorescence can help off-set the yellow in a diamond. The trick is that the sales will not tell you the negatives of blue fluorescence unless you ask them. The negative effects of fluorescence (milkiness and becoming darker) can usually only be seen under natural daylight which contains ultraviolet light. This is because the effect of fluorescence depends on the intensity of the ultraviolet radiation shining on the diamond. If fluorescence is making the diamond whiter in a jeweller store, then you know their lights are specifically selected to emit some U.V. light.
The jewellery store will also never mention how blue fluorescence will seriously hurt the resale value of your diamond. If a diamond sales person can convince a customer that a LSI1 with strong blue fluorescence is a good buy then kudos to them. But hopefully you won’t be one of them.
So these are some of the more tricky tactics which when delivered isn’t flat out lying. It’s important to remember that sales people aren’t engineers, their job is simply to sell and more often than not being a smooth talker is far more effective than being technical when it comes to selling jewellery.
The fact is, to the average consumer, a surface level understanding of the 4Cs is already complicated enough so that in the typical time it takes for a sales person to explain to a consumer the basics, they already feel like the sales person is the expert and that they can trust them in their purchasing decision.
Hopefully after reading this tutorial you will be able to quickly tell what kind of jeweller you’re dealing with. Stay tuned for the next tutorial where I’ll be talking about some even more questionable sales tactics that I’ve come across.