Last weekend I set up a small booth at a travelling gem and mineral show held in a local exhibition hall. This particular show operator is well experienced with 40 years of working a circuit that covers medium sized cities in two states. Many of the vendors have been with him for 20-30 years and have loyal followers that buy from them each time.
As anyone who has followed my posts should know by now, I am a fanatic about truth and disclosure. Most of my items are clearly labelled identifying all stones and components and includes any treatment information that may apply. Jewellery with “Mystic Topaz” has a card explaining the coating and how to take proper care when cleaning the item and things like that. Any questions are answered in full. I have nothing to hide.
Imagine my surprise when the vendor in the neighbouring booth chewed me out for providing too much information. She told me it will only confuse the customers and make the rest of the vendors look bad. She doesn’t know the names of the stones that she uses in her own designs, and doesn’t even want to find out. At her brick and mortar store she makes up names for stones to fit the design.
Another vendor, also with a brick and mortar store, specializes in loose coloured stones. I found a few stones that caught my eye and started asking the usual questions about treatments. His response was: “Don’t know, don’t care.” Further conversation revealed that it is just too much time and hassle to keep up with new information and the customers don’t want to hear it.
Booth after booth, the same thing. Glass being sold as stone, metal halide coated geodes labelled as natural, dyed agate sold as Jade…the list goes on. Only one other vendor was completely open and knowledgeable about his wares and he struggled to compete with those that are willing to tell out-right lies to make a sale.
It’s no wonder that the public mistrusts the jewellery industry and not a surprise that they consider us dishonest. Too many people on the front lines, those in direct contact with the customer, care more about making sales than about being truthful or even knowledgeable.
Diamond bourses, trade organizations and other professional entities are doing a decent job of educating and regulating their members. This is a good start but our industry needs to focus more on reaching both front-line retailers and consumers to bring an awareness of treatments and how they affect the value of their purchase.
The realist in me recognizes that it may be easier to hold back the tide with a teaspoon but the optimist in me keeps hoping that little by little we can make an effort to regain a trustworthy status.