That Sounds Good

Chocolate diamonds. Champagne diamonds. Cognac diamonds.

Lemon quartz. Watermelon tourmaline. Bubblegum pink sapphire.

Are you hungry yet? Food may pave the proverbial path to a man’s heart, but evidently food-type descriptors make consumers hungry for colored diamond and gemstone jewelry.

Few people would deny that professional marketing teams are the true drivers of consumer habits these days. We’re essentially told what we want, so that we want what somebody wants to sell. It’s not a bad cycle really, as long as everyone is honest and ends up happy with what they sold or what they bought.

As someone who works very hard to ensure a client is educated about how they’re spending their money, I sometimes send a silent thank-you to the inventors of those delicious nicknames. A custom client who can use vivid descriptors of any kind, food or otherwise, is more likely get what they really want the first time: “a purple that’s not too deep, not really royal, and definitely not plum, but a bit more violet. Like out outer edge of a violet, but sort of like grape Jello.” Yes, I can work with that. (Maybe I’ll coin “Grape Jello Sapphire”?) Personally, I get a kick out of gems with foodlike names because, well, I’m a foodie, and calling my jewelry something edible is kind of the perfect combination of passions for me. I relate much better to a lip-smacking red raspberry rhodalite garnet set in buttery-yellow 18K gold, don’t you?

So clearly I’m not totally averse to unique and descriptive nicknames. But I do have issues with the rampant dishonesty and consumer duping that comes from those marketing geniuses who decided to take their pitch one step too far. These are the people who sell gems that are worth very little (or almost nothing) at prices comparable to their truly rare and valuable counterparts. I’m looking at you, purveyors of the chocolate or champagne or cognac diamonds.

They’re pretty. If the color appeals to you, they’re stunning. They are incredibly useful in design work, and they’re an excellent alternative to softer gems in similar colors. Do you know what they are not? Rare. And therefore, expensive.

It is absolutely astounding to me that certain retailers are promoting these common-as-dirt, industrial quality, murky brownish diamonds as something special enough to sell in the same price bracket as white diamonds. The markup on such a product must be astronomical — great for the retailer, of course, but not so much for the consumer. It’s a bit like buying meatloaf at Kobe prices just because somebody told you it was pretty much the same thing, and tastes pretty good.

I love beautiful pieces of wearable art, and jewelry made with these brownish gems can be equally beautiful to those made without. But my expectation is to pay less for something with a lesser value, and informed customers should expect the same. I question how long a value system can last if price — usually, though not always, a major factor — becomes a meaningless mode of comparison. Consumers should be purchasing jewelry because they love it, but they should be charged an appropriate amount for the true value of their dollar’s buying power.

What’s your favorite colored gemstone nickname? Do we need to introduce some new ones?

2 thoughts on “That Sounds Good

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I spent the better part of last November and December going on mini-rants every time a holiday jewelry commercial came on espousing “chocolate” times as if they were some grand luxury. If someone likes the brown color more power to them, but like you said, at a price point that is in line with their true value.

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