What have you done for Lara Bingle lately? No, seriously. Stay with me folks. I know that the mere mention of Lara’s name may cause nausea in some of our members – those fed-up with talk about celebrities who are only famous for being famous and those disinterested in that spectacular break-up with cricketer Michael Clarke – but I am about to delve into a core failure in the jewellery industry, namely the lack of unity and the mistrust shared among jewellers.
Personally, I am sick of hearing jewellers slandering each other. It’s just not good for the industry and, frankly, it’s already hard enough dealing with customers who constantly perpetuate the myth of the “dodgy-jeweller”. By engaging in conversations about the flaws of other jewellers, we are making matters worse, particularly when we involve customers.
How many times have you heard a customer tell you they won’t deal with a certain jeweller? There’s no problem with customers venting their own views but there is a problem with how some jewellers choose to react: In the past, have you replied to such criticisms by agreeing and criticising this jeweller, or did you instead apologise on that jeweller’s behalf?
We are doing our industry a great injustice by constantly criticising fellow jewellers. Put simply, why should consumers have confidence in our industry when those within it don’t even trust each other?
One of the fundamental errors that retail jewellers make on a daily basis is when a customer enters with an engagement ring purchased elsewhere and requests a valuation (or submits a valuation and asks us to confirm the value).
At this stage, the consumer is not trying to rub your face in it by pointing out a lost sale; they are simply in search of assurance that their investment was worthwhile. Yet, how many times have we been in this situation and broken the consumer’s confidence by claiming the valuation is over-exaggerated?
Surely, this lessens the chance that the customer will buy more jewellery in the future. There are many more cases where jewellers damage the industry in their quest to promote their own businesses. How many times, for example, have we highlighted all the defects in a customer’s ring, again crushing any joy generated by the purchase, and all because the ring was not bought from our own store? It’s no wonder that jewellers are low on the list of trusted professions.
So what does all this have to do with Lara Bingle? I’m sure you all remember that spectacular diamond ring that “Clarkey” bought for Lara: a 4.7-carat pear-cut diamond surrounded by a sea of pave-set round brilliants. Valued at $200,000, it received a soak in an unusual-shaped porcelain cleaner!
While I couldn’t care less about their break-up, I was disturbed – no, horrified! – to read a news report that claimed the ring was not worth more that $50,000.
Naturally, I had to read on! Was Clarke ripped off? Was his diamond switched? Which jeweller scammed this Aussie cricketing icon? But there was nothing to suggest the drop in value and, in my opinion, it was merely a case of sour grapes. You see, I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I could clearly spot the disrespect for my beloved industry from this claim.
Can you imagine how much fantastic publicity would be generated for your business if you were lucky enough to supply a diamond ring for a celebrity couple? How much positive advertising would that generate for you? Having the value of the ring disputed in the mass media not only stains your business, but also taints the couple’s piece of joy!
Retail jewellers are at the forefront of consumer confidence creation. Retail jewellers are the only sector of the industry that has the power in their hands to instil confidence directly in the consumers but retailers also need support from everyone in the industry to keep building consumer confidence – support from suppliers, valuers, manufacturers, and graders.
Our industry is too fragile, and customers react far too swiftly to bad news. We need unity as a foundation upon which to build a strong and trusted reputation, especially in the retail front. Without a strong industry reputation, honest, hardworking, devoted experts and masters are no more unique and respected than used-car salesmen. Second hand Aston-Martin anyone?
So I will ask again: what have you done for Lara Bingle lately?