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The Waitrose Paradox - Why Jewellers Need Gem Dealers

People often tell me they don’t need a Gemstone Dealer as they have their own suppliers in the East and they go to Bangkok or Hong Kong to buy...
supermarket_trolly.jpgPeople often tell me they don’t need a Gemstone Dealer as they have their own suppliers in the East and they go to Bangkok or Hong Kong to buy themselves once or twice a year and that’s enough. The assumption is that they can buy better and cheaper themselves. And in some cases this is true.  There is however a very strong case when it isn’t. I have likened it to what I call the Waitrose paradox.

Waitrose is regarded as one of the highest quality supermarkets (grocers) in the UK. It is also one of the most expensive. The assumption is that you are paying over the odds for everything you buy there when you can buy it cheaper at say a a discount provider.  This is true for some things – cleaning products, standardised things like Coke and crisps, water etc. but there are products where this is definitely not the case and that is with fresh produce. While you might perceive the cost to be more, what you are in fact buying is what you need or want in a superior quality and the quantity you will buy is exactly what you'll consume.  No leftovers that end up in the bin.  This means there’s little or no wastage and your food tastes better. Better food makes you feel better and your outlook on life is more positive. You work better, you make better money and you enjoy life more (simplistic but you get the idea).

Think of the alternative. For your fresh produce you buy cheaper, firstly it doesn’t last as long so you throw some of it away (you had to buy more in the first place to get such a cheap price) it’s already costing you more than you paid for it. Then it doesn’t taste as nice. Your meal times become a disappointment your quality of life deteriorates and you have low morale.

What’s this got to do with gemstones?

As gemstone dealers we have been supplying jewellery manufacturers for over 50 years.  During that time we have see the industry change completely.  50 years ago, you had to be a real pioneer to source stones, today you just hop on a plane and your at the source.  The problem with being at the source sometimes is that you don't get to see things the way you would in your own environment.  You can also but at the wrong price and often take more as you feel the need to justify your trip. With the right local gemstone dealer in place, you can buy what you want, when you want it and invariably have a choice. Are you buying better and improving your jewellery? Yes!. Did it cost you more? In real terms probably not! Have you got what you want? Yes! Otherwise you wouldn’t be buying it. When you go on your buying trips what you forget is that you can rarely buy one stone, you have to buy a few. The stones you do want to use wait six months until you get round to using them. Inevitably some won’t be as good as you thought when you get home. They sit in your safe and tie up your money. A bit like the cheap groceries you buy because they’re cheap, but end up throwing away because they are rubbish.

The bottom line here is, not to be afraid of buying and sourcing stones on your home turf.  There is nothing wrong with getting a reputation for being a good local buyer.  In fact, some of the customers I go to see buy exceptionally well without leaving their office. Because they have everything they need at their fingertips when making a buying decision, including other stones to compare to and mounts to see if stones fit into, they are buying what they need.  So next time a friendly gem dealer knocks on your door, don't be so hasty to shoo them away.  They might have just the thing you're looking for. 

(this blog was first published in November 2008 - but still holds true) 

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