Yes, I know how much everyone likes surprises. And I know how much everyone likes change. And I also know how much everyone likes big changes in our industry that you have to adapt to. Well, here we go again. Today we’re gonna discuss two big changes that, ready or not, here they are! SURPRISE!
Ouch! Did I just say a dirty word? To some in our industry, just saying those three words together is like wearing a MAGA hat to a Starbucks in Seattle. Well, like I said, ready or not, here they are. What are they, how are they produced, are they real diamonds? And, how do we react to this new game changer in our industry?
I think we’ve all seen the horror stories lately regarding the lab-grown melee that has infiltrated the supply chain over the last few years. I don’t know what happened there, so I don’t know enough to discuss it. But, it was a shameless, unethical, crappy thing to do. For this discussion though, I’m only referring to the legit suppliers that are selling their diamonds as lab-grown diamonds and not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.
While at the RJO show in Nashville recently, I met with a few producers of lab-grown diamonds who gave me the 411 (that’s ‘the scoop’ for those that don’t speak internet slang) on them.
The process to grow a diamond takes about 25-35 days from start to finish. It starts with a diamond seed, which is a slice of a natural diamond crystal. The color of the seed crystal does not affect the finished product’s color, but the clarity is important. With the pressure required to produce the finished product, any inclusions in the seed crystal can crack or break, which prevents the new diamond crystal from growing.
These diamond seeds are placed in a ‘growth cell’ which holds between 16 and 24 seeds. From here, using the CVD method (chemical vapor deposition), the lab-grown diamonds begin to grow from the seed. About a month later, you open it up and see what you got. Are some batches better than others? Yes, just like wine.
Once cooled, lab-grown crystals are chemically, physically and optically - within narrow limits - identical to natural diamond crystals. These lab-grown crystals will now be treated just like mined diamonds and will be sent to the cutters to facet them into finished goods. The crystals that don’t make the cut (clarity or color wise), will become industrial diamonds.
I’ve seen them, and I’m not going to lie, they look good. I compared the prices between comparable 1 carat natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds, and the difference in price is significant and seems to be growing.
The week before RJO, I blew off a sale involving a lab-grown diamond. A potential customer called and asked if I sold lab-grown diamonds. I said no. She hung up and called someone else. I probably won’t do that the next time.
Would you like an app with your entrée?
Just when you thought you’d finally mastered the myriad of internet based social media marketing platforms, I’m here to inform you that they are no longer the king-of-the-hill. Now, in order to be one of the ‘cool kids’, you’ve got to have an app. Ugh. My head hurts just thinking about it.
I looked into building an app a year ago for a business I was considering and found the process overwhelmingly complicated. In fact, it was so complicated I abandoned the project altogether. As time goes by, I’m sure they’ll get easier, like websites have.
I remember my first website was basically me writing computer code. Now, there are so many do-it-yourself templates that websites are easy. They are easy to build, easy to maintain, easy to update, and easy to change. Apps, on the other hand, are not there yet. With an app, you’re back to writing code. So, how does one enter the app game?
For the answer to that question, I sat down at RJO with Anish Desai, President of Star Gems. Anish has invested years of his life, and about a $1,000,000 to develop his app, Custom Studio. Custom Studio is a subscription service that Anish now offers to jewelry stores all over the country. What are the benefits of an app over a website you ask? For the answer to that question, I went right to the man himself.
I won’t explain the difference between an app and a website because it’s so boring I fell asleep during the class. Suffice it to say though, apps are hot and websites are not. So, how does an app work for the retailer? Once your store has signed, the program works something like this.
Apps are designed to be specific to your store. Once your customer downloads the app, you create a direct link between you and your customer through the app. That connection works on whatever device they are using at the time; be it a phone, a tablet, or a computer. Now, they can shop for jewelry online, through the app, or anywhere on the internet, not just at your website.
They can ask you a question, or send you a picture of something they like through the app using the ‘send message’ feature. That message arrives, via the app, right to your cell phone. Now it’s simply texting back and forth in real time, via the app. There is no more sending an e-mail and waiting for a reply. And, no more playing phone-tag for a week. In today’s competitive business climate, you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot. BAM! You’re now in the future.
When a customer’s repair is ready, attach a picture of the finished job and send it to the customer through the app. With the payment gateway, your customer can hit “pay now”, and the money goes right into your bank account. That’$ mu$ic to my ear$!
Apps can include pre-installed designs for your customers to peruse. With the handy image editor, your customers can start designing and making basic changes to any images they like in the app, or on the internet. I think we all know how much people crave instant gratification and saying that they designed it themselves.
Since Custom Studio came on my radar screen last year, I’ve been paying attention to the overall conversion from websites to apps. Very few fortune 500 companies are promoting their websites anymore. If Target wants to have a sale, they encourage you to download the Target app to get the special discount code. Target knows where their customers are shopping, and it’s not on their computers. It’s on their phones. Your customers are doing the same thing!
And, speaking about being one of the cool kids, make sure to check out the Bench Jewelers Laser and Technology Seminar on August 16 and 17 in Nashville, TN. Bring the family and make a vacation out of it. We had a great turnout last year and have even more to provide this year. I hope to see you there.