With school starting again this season, here are some helpful sources that can keep you on top of the latest jewelry info.
September is traditionally the month when students start heading back to school and shopping for the tools they’ll need to succeed in their lessons. But what about your professional studies? Could these do with a polish?
If so, this might be a good time to think about how you can further your knowledge without having to study full-time. Information about diamonds, gems and jewelry is ever evolving, so it’s important to keep on top of it, no matter what level of expertise you have.
A great way to strengthen your industry knowledge in your down time is to pick up a book. There are many I could highlight, but a few diamond-focused picks to get you started are Diamond Jewelry: 700 Years of Glory and Glamour by Diana Scarisbrick; Diamonds: The Quest from Solid Rock to the Magic of Diamonds by Christine Gordon; Diamonds: Diamond Stories by Assouline in partnership with Only Natural Diamonds; and American Cut: The First 100 Years by Al Gilbertson. A favourite of mine is Diamonds by Marijan Dundek, which is now available in seven languages in both print and e-book formats.
A matter of courses
During the pandemic, we all realized that while there were enormous benefits to studying in person alongside your peers, you didn’t actually need to be in a classroom to learn. For those of us with full-time jobs, online classes are much easier to fit around work. Plus, you can attend any global school that offers digital learning programs, no matter where you’re based.
A quick Google search will show you the growing number of jewelry and gem courses available online, but there are a few I would point out in particular. For gemology essentials, try the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the Gübelin Academy, or the International Gem Society (IGS). For marketing and retail, Rapaport Academy is a great resource. Sotheby’s Institute of Art, meanwhile, offers a course called “Principles of Luxury” that will give you an overview of the wider luxury business.
Prefer a hands-on approach? I got you. If you are able to travel to the southern US, there are two remaining De Beers “Introduction to the 4Cs Workshop” courses taking place this year: one in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 20, and the other in Dallas, Texas, on October 11.
Keeping up with industry news is another good way to improve your knowledge base — and to pick up interesting tidbits you can share with customers to show off your expertise. The GIA website has a wealth of information, as does that of the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), which has an experts’ “lounge” section filled with articles, reports and analyses about fancy-colored diamonds.
Trade magazines are essential for anyone serious about building their knowledge, and many glossy magazines and newspapers publish regular supplements dedicated to jewelry. These can be especially helpful for understanding what your customers might be discovering.
You can also use social media to follow influencers who offer insights into different facets of our industry. Danielle Miele of the Gem Gossip blog shares information on antique jewels, while fellow blogger Katerina Perez is a great source for high-jewelry inspiration. Jean-Noel Soni of Top Notch Faceting will set any gemstone aficionado’s heart aflutter with his richly saturated images of bespoke cuts.
And don’t forget to use your own social media profiles to spread your passion and impart what you’ve learned. The more you can educate your customers, the better. I have so much fun creating reels on Instagram that share my educational journey with my followers.
Tools of the trade
While digital media are excellent channels for sharing information, you should also pass on your knowledge in-store — and why not introduce a tool or two to help your customers better appreciate diamonds?
Use a gem-testing device, such as the GIA iD100, to show them the difference between lab-grown stones and natural diamonds. Or take advantage of instruments like the GIA Match iD, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to match a diamond’s inscription with its GIA grading report. The consumer can then use an app to view the report digitally. It’s eco-friendly (paper-free), user-friendly, compact, and affordable, and is certainly a tool I will be adding to my own September “back to school” wish list.