Saturday, 13 April 2013

Day 1 at The Smart Show

As we approached the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan from downtown Chicago, I was literally bouncing in my seat.  I’m glad we didn’t try to walk all of the way here.  The walk along the pier is probably as far as from the show-hotel to the pier!  I’ve got to say that all of the service staff we’ve encountered make me think that Chicago is an extremely friendly city. 

The Smart Show definitely has a different sort of vibe than JCK.  The seminar day is just that.  No exhibits anywhere to distract.  The sessions I attended were filled with 50 to 100 attendees each.  One in particular got my goat.  A presentation by Andrew Rickard of RDI Diamonds Inc. on the issue of certs just made me ashamed of our industry.  He is a diamond dealer who sells nearly $70Million in diamonds every year.  He recounted the circumstances in 2010 that led to rapid, huge increases in diamond prices.  In the aftermath he claims that consumer forces are to blame for forcing diamond grading standards to nose-dive so heavily.  In his words, “EGL was first to the party” to downgrade their certs in order to satisfy consumer demand.  Steve said that would be like producing 12kt gold jewellery and stamping it 14kt because consumers were too shocked at the price of gold.  Ridiculous!!!

He claims to sell 4 EGL certs for every GIA cert (and he has a large selection of GIA graded diamonds).  This indicates that retailers are voting with their cheque books.  He made a very good case that he is aware of disparities between the grading, and expertly councils retailers who buy from him on the differences.  He even goes so far as to highlight in yellow “shaky certs” and in green “really tight certs”.  What he didn’t answer was “what about the retailers who are using bad certs to win sales from his well-informed honest retailers?”  For that there is no answer.

Something I didn’t know was that GIA has been taken to task in courts of law, and their grading integrity has stood-up.  In his research, EGL has never been sued over misleading certs, so there’s no precedent for allegations of fraud.  His conclusion for diamond buyers such as yourself is to evaluate diamonds based on price.  Claiming that there are no “stellar deals,” he asserts that if you’re looking for a $3,500 cost diamond, you should view them without considering the cert and select the best one.

I’m not sure what to do with these assertions; other than pass them along to you for your consideration.  Make of this what you will.  I did learn some great things about marketing today, and we’re still savoring the sounds of sweet jazz from the club we visited the previous night.

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