Merchandising Aspects of Synthetic Gemstones

Synthetic still meet with mixed reactions in the jewelry industry.
Many firms refuse to stock them; others feature them almost exclusively. The continuous introduction of new substitutes, resulting from modern technology and increasing shortages of fine quality natural stones, suggests the desirability of giving more consideration to the promotion of synthetic stones.

One of the problems of colored-stone merchandising is the tremendous cleavage between the firms that handle only expensive natural stones and those that handle only synthetic, imitation and the, very least expensive natural stones. At times, there seems to be no sensible middle ground. If a woman is interested in a piece of inexpensive karat gold jewelry for ornamentation and costume accent only and has no interest whatever in its symbolism or esthetic aspects, there is little justification and less success in trying to force upon her an expensive piece made with natural stones. Stores that refuse to stock synthetics disregard the existence of the natural development process in which a customer progresses from an initial attraction to an inexpensive synthetic stone; to a growing appreciation of the pleasure of owning a product of nature's handiwork. Failing to make available the intense colors that can be provided only in synthetics prevents this process from getting under way. Naturally, the store that now handle only genuine stones would be interested in offering junk. Admittedly, too much of the synthetic corundum or spinel set rings and other jewelry lacks appeal.

Unfortunately, many, if not most, synthetic-set rings are flimsy, poorly designed and set with stones so large that they dominate the setting; often they dominate the costume as well, becoming a detrimental focal point for the wearer. In other words, the most important part of the costume has a cheap appearance of questionable taste. However, not all synthetic-set jewelry is unattractive. Moreover, the jeweler may select attractive pieces and order stones cut to his requirements by a proficient lapidary. These methods present a multitude of possibilities for synthetic stone jewelry that a jeweler can offer with pride and assurance. The retailer who now handles only the cheapest imitation and synthetic rings can upgrade his average sale by training himself in appreciation by inspecting the "lines" of manufacturers who have a reputation for high quality and excellence of design. His own growth of appreciation for superior merchandise is the first step to the realization of greater sales volume.

For casual wear during working or recreational hours, synthetics are the ideal answer for those who like jewelry but cannot afford the natural of comparable appearance. Obviously large, expensive natural stones are not practical for some occasions; in the extreme, it could be compared to the wearing of a tuxedo at a baseball game. All gem materials, including synthetic, and man-made stones, have their place, and it is a wise jeweler who prepares his advertising and displays to illustrate this fact.

Another consideration that must be made in the merchandising of imitations is correct terminology. One of the reasons that some jewelers are reluctant to use the term synthetic is the widespread and long-used practice of applying to such stones as aquamarine colored synthetic spinel the term "synthetic aquamarine". To be specific and accurate, it would be necessary to use the term synthetic aquamarine-colored spinel. Distributor's of synthetic stones are constantly faced with the desire to find a more palatable word than synthetic to merchandise their products. The ethical jeweler must weigh all proposed terms and his own judgment, and then decide whether their use will be misleading to his customers.