By Michelle Graff
Michelle-blogThe main focus of the report, that color and clarity grades for diamonds vary pretty dramatically depending on which lab is used, is not news to members of the jewelry industry. While a number of suggestions have made been on how to address this issue, nothing concrete has been done. So it remains that a diamond that one lab grades as a D could easily be a G when another lab looks at it.

To me, the report that just aired in Tennessee seemed like a lot of he said-she said between the jeweler and others in the area who question the store’s business practices and use of EGL International certificates, as the lab has been said to over-grade diamonds.

For example: the “others” in the segment speaking out against Genesis claim that most of the diamonds the store sells have EGL International certificates. Genesis owner Boaz Ramon, meanwhile, said in the segment and told National Jeweler Thursday that 78 percent of his stones carry GIA certs while the rest are a mix among EGL USA, EGL International, IGI, AGS Labs and HRD Antwerp.

In the first of the two-part series, one of the gentlemen speaking out against this particular retailer says that Genesis is “basically changing the diamond market (and) the landscape in Nashville, and not for the good.”

But a myriad of other factors have changed the diamond market everywhere, including the Internet; consumers’ level of education about diamond buying; where, when and how consumers shop; a new generation with a different set of values and many more luxury items to choose from; the shrinking middle class … the list goes on.

What are retailers to do about it? I don’t claim to have all the solutions, but I don’t think complaining about competing jewelers use of EGL International is it. There’s nothing illegal about using these grading certificates.

In any industry, not just jewelry, all business people choose to run their operations differently. There’s nothing you can do about it. What you can control, however, is what goes on in your store. If you want to carry diamonds with EGL International certificates, then understand the alleged implications that go along with that and educate your customers accordingly.

If you choose not to carry diamonds from this lab, then understand that other retailers in your area might be carrying them, and be prepared to educate consumers who come in with grading report questions.

At one point in the segment, the anchor uses the phrase “alphabet soup” in reference to the initials of the various grading laboratories, IGI, GIA, EGL, etc. This actually brought a smile to my face. What would she think of she really knew the full scope of the “alphabet soup” in the industry, the latest, and arguably greatest, of which is the Precious Stones Multi-Stakeholder Working Group, or the PSMSWG.   (Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?)

In any case, her “alphabet soup” comment was not only spot-on, and truer than she realizes, but it illustrates a larger point: This type of information--color grades, clarity grades, the different laboratories, diamond prices--is all very confusing for consumers.

When news reports like this one air, it doesn’t really do anybody in the industry any favors. What it mostly serves to do, instead, is to fuel consumer sentiment that jewelers are dishonest and that consumers potentially are getting ripped off every time they enter a jewelry store.

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