Archive for September, 2010

A, AA, AAA

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

A, AA, AAA

What Does This Mean?

These are the terms I often hear on the phone from jewelers who are ordering gems for their specific calls. I would like to point out some facts regarding using these terms when ordering colored gemstones.

First of all, these terms are not scientific in any shape or form and cannot be equaled to using clarity or color grades in diamonds. Calling a diamond dealer and saying you want a AAA or A diamond will not work. You are better off saying a VS,GH color, or an I,K color, or if budget dictates quality say about how much a carat you can spend on the stone.

I think what has started the use of this terminology is looking at gemstone catalogs and seeing that inventories have been categorized that way by the dealer. This is mostly done in commercial calibrated materials like amethyst, citrine, garnet and so forth or smaller sizes of corundum. Basically the dealer has evaluated his existing inventory and classified it into 3 qualities to make it easier to work with, servicing the price needs of customers. This grading only makes sense within his range of inventory. In other words another dealers best or worst goods will not be equal in quality even if graded by A, AA, or AAA. This type of grading works best in giving you a rough idea of quality and cost when working in smaller or less expensive calibrated commercial grade materials.

Recently I had a request for a 12 x 10mm A or AA ruby!! My first thought was that doesn’t say much except that they are not looking for gem material. There is such a huge price range in rubies, more than most other stones. A six carat stone in Amethyst can go from $4-$50/ct or Aquamarine for $50-$750/ct, but in Ruby it can go from $200-$300/ct for glass filled materials up to $25K-$35K/ct for a fine gem.

In other words using more descriptive terms to define the quality or budget range for the stone is a much more useful and practical way of expressing non commercial orders. In general dealers who carry finer quality goods, whether in single larger stones or in smaller pairs or sets, will never use this terminology to describe the grade of their stones.

At the level of higher quality colored gemstones, there are many more tangible and describable factors that define each stone, such as the exact shade of color, which includes tones and saturation as well as the presence of secondary colors, the clarity, the life and the cut of the stone. Unlike diamonds, colored stones come in a huge range and variety of cuts which affects the color, life, and weight of the gemstone. For example, one might pay more per/ct for a well cut 9×7 oval sapphire, but this stone might cost you less than a less per/ct stone with a much more lumpy and deep cut. In the end, knowing your range of budget determines which gems will work for your call.

Being and staying informed on the range of colored gems and their pricing is not an easy job. Very often, I have had phone calls where the quality description on the stone requested has not even been close to the final budget quoted for the stone. For example, to me using both words “very bright” and “red red” in describing the ruby requested means the more expensive finer material, as opposed to just mentioning “red red”.

A "very bright" and "red red" ruby on the left, and a "red red" ruby on the right

In order to turn more of your gemstone inquiries and requests into sales, you need to work with trusted suppliers who have well priced quality goods with reliable service and up to date information on availability and price. On your part you can qualify your customer and find out what factors are most important to them; such as dimension and shape as in using an existing mounting they have, preference of color and then informing them about gems available in those colors and the price range they wish to stay within for the project. Sales happen when the jeweler follows up on the request, provides complete information on availability, prices and choices to the customer and keeps their interest and commitment to the project, by taking time to educate them on color gemstones thus turning them into loyal lifetime customers.

Being on the supplier end of this equation, we get to hear the many challenges retailers are faced with and we try to support and assist each one of our clients in all these areas. Part of the service we presently provide our customers is a complete website with a gem search option which helps you find what you need along with great images of our inventory to also present to your customer. An added feature of this website is that it can be easily incorporated into your own website with your own markup options. This allows your sales team to have full access to our inventory of fine color to present to your customers with your selling prices. Check it out and let us know if we can assist you in any shape or form.

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