Brand names are essential to consumers. We must buy the brand people know. It’s what drives advertisers and marketers. They cram our craniums with jingles and commercials reminding us of their product.
The same can also be said about gemstones. Trade terms are assigned to stones to garner interest and popularity while eventually leading to sales. Unfortunately, there are many examples where these names that describe specific regions or colors are misused, causing confusion in the marketplace.
One such example is Kashmir sapphires. Historically, they are considered the “creme de la creme” of sapphires. Possessing a rich, velvet blue color, it is the epitome of gem grade quality. However, this color is specific to material from the region between India and Pakistan. It is a similar concept to Champagne being from a specific wine region in France.
The Kashmir color is extremely rare and demands a high price. But as market demand increased, the name began to be mislabeled as a trade name helping fuel the allure for this name. It no longer possessed the specificness to color of this region, but instead it simply represented a broader term: “top grade”. This attempt to sell more sapphires by stating this region as a trade term instead of locale is a fallacy that devalues the Kashmir sapphire.
Another example of misidentifying a specific locale for a trade term is the Ceylon sapphire. These stunning sapphires from Sri Lanka possess a traditional pastel color. Softer blues, pinks and yellows are the most common. The blue material is especially well-known for its smooth blue and violet undertones.
As popularity began to increase, Ceylon also became synonymous with “top grade” and not its specific color. Instead, phrases like “cornflower blue” were attributed to Ceylon material and in the process created a new color for Ceylon sapphires. Ultimately, this created confusion between the wholesale and retail market.
Frivolously using these locales as trade names actually began to shrink the market. New sources, such as Thailand and Madagascar, introduced beautiful material that was overlooked. It forced us down a narrow tunnel preventing quality goods from shining because they were not Ceylon or Kashmir.
So to what can we attribute these breakdowns? A simple answer is a loose accountability for these terms in the color gemstone market. It created two adverse effects. Using terms that represent a distinct region mistakenly narrowed an interest for a broader color market, while also devaluing the rarity of top grade color from those regions.
Educating the public and recognizing what is being marketed to them is how to overcome these misconceptions. Go online, search these stones and observe the colors being marketed to your customers. Most of the time, you will notice their search for a color and its associated price are easily obtainable once these trade terms are removed.
By doing so, you can combat the misinformation plaguing many customers before making their purchase.
Konrad Darling is the sales and marketing director for Darling Imports, a color gemstone wholesaler offering genuine and synthetics as well as lapidary services and stone identification. For more information contact Darling Imports at 800-282-8436 or www.darlingimports.com.