This Business of Trust
This business of trust: buying a peice of jewellery – no matter whether it is a big and important fine quality gemstone or a tiny pair of silver earrings – is all about trust. The retailer must trust his wholesaler, his gemstone dealer, his bullion supplier, his goldsmith; the jewellery designers and manufacturers must trust their suppliers and those they supply; and their customers have a long line of people in whose integrity, experience and knowledge they must place their trust before parting with their hard-earned money.
This message was brought home to me yesterday as I walked around the International Jewellery trade show at Olympia with two student designers of mine from the Middle East. As we walked past the many international gemstone stands they asked me who they could trust. As designers, even with diplomas in gemmology, they had neither the time nor the expertise to buy gemstones without the assistance of a full time and very qualified gemmologist by their side.
In the UK, we have the Consumer Protection Act which places responsibility for what is being sold firmly in the hands of the vendor; but those rules do not apply in other parts of the world. And for the 21st century consumer that is still not enough information to instil confidence. I wonder how many sales are lost because we have not provided sufficient and proven information about the source and treatments of each gemstone? Yet ….
James Riley of Gem A – the Gemmological Association of Great Britain – was able to throw light on the situation. There is now, he told me, the technology to test coloured stones to understand both the country of origin and the nature of any treatments that may have been applied so that a certification system for the rough crystals will be in operation very soon. I look forward to hearing more ….