The jewelry business is built on trust. Your customers trust you to design and sell pieces that match the expectations they have, and the price they are paying for it. In turn, you rely on your suppliers to deliver consistent quality while keeping costs relatively stable. When working with wholesale diamond suppliers, it is critical that you protect your business and your investment. How? By asking key questions to determine if a supplier will be a good match.
Start with these:
- Can you provide me with references? The answer should be an immediate, unreserved “Yes.” Any business dealing with precious gemstones needs to exercise the utmost caution. Ask for at least three to five references; they should be from businesses with whom the supplier has worked within the last year so you can be sure they reflect the supplier’s current state of business.
Follow-up is key: call the references and inquire about their experience: were orders filled promptly and with consistent results? How would you describe the level of service? Did they ship on time? What other services do they offer? Did they have difficulty filling larger or mixed orders?
- What’s the buzz? On a related note, take a look at what people are saying online about the suppliers that you are vetting. While you must always take online reviews with a grain of salt, it can be useful to see if there are any common threads running through retail-oriented forums, reviews, and comment sections.
- Are your products authentic? If you are selling Rolex watches, your customers must trust that they are authentic - and see proof! As a jewelry retailer, you must do the same. Are the stones/other materials you are purchasing truly authentic? Does the supplier’s promise match the level of quality you’re receiving? It can be difficult to discern quality when it comes to products like melee diamonds. They are small stones, and spotting imperfections or even the presence of simulated or faux stones in an order can be difficult. Feel free to get an expert opinion or have the stones evaluated by an independent lab.
- From where do your stones originate? While the sale of conflict, or blood, diamonds has decreased thanks to global efforts (such as the Kimberley Process), there is still a danger of inadvertently purchasing these stones. Ask potential suppliers where their stones come from and how they can guarantee that they are ethically sourced. Look for those who adhere to the rigorous Kimberley Process.
- Have your stones been treated? Many suppliers treat, or “enhance,” their diamonds. For example, if a stone has a crack or fissure, they may fill it with a glass-like compound. This restores it in terms of naked eye aesthetics. Some expose diamonds to radiation in order to change and intensify the color. Now, there is nothing wrong with treated diamonds, per se. But you should be fully aware of what you are purchasing. If you want untreated diamonds, look for assurances that this is exactly what you will receive.
- Are your larger stones certified? Melee diamonds are so small that it is often cost-prohibitive to have them graded. However, larger stones should come with GIA certifications and grading reports.
- What are your credentials? You want independent verification that a stone is of the quality you expect -- demand the same when it comes to wholesale diamond suppliers. What credentials do they hold? Are they GIA-certified and trained? What about their experience in the industry? Are they newcomers, or have they established their reputation over years of solid, consistent, and outstanding work?
- What can you offer me? This is a rather broad question, and that’s purposeful. See if the supplier launches into a speech about how wonderful they are, or if they give you specifics. “We’re the best in the business,” versus “We deliver consistent quality, ship same day in many cases, provide stones on memo, have a deep inventory of conflict-free stones, offer services such as sorting, setting, polishing, and finishing…” Etc.
Wholesale diamond suppliers should be able to answer these questions, and many more, to your satisfaction. They need to inspire confidence and provide an impeccable resume of experience and credentials. If they don’t, move on. If they do, you have found a trusted partner that can help you grow your business.