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Idea for You title
Have I Got an Idea for U

Digital Devil: Have I Got an Idea 4 U
by Richard W. Hughes

YOU gotta love the tabloids…

The imagination needed to come up with some of that stuff is truly bomb-science level. I don't normally expect such refined humor from the gem-trade press. 20 years in this business and insomnia is the expectation. But when a recent issue of a trade mag hit my desk, I had to laugh:

General Electric/Lazare Kaplan to sell treated diamonds at 5% premium

GE is truly the idea company. And now the bomb-science luminaries over there have struck solid gold. It is obvious. GE/Lazare Kaplan have hired the finest minds from the National Enquirer. And put them in charge of marketing.

My hat is off. You have to admire the chutzpah. Take off-color brown diamonds, heat the bejesus out of them under pressures that would stuff Mt. Everest into a thimble, and then sell them for more than the out-of-the-ground natural product.

Why? "Rarity," we blockheads are told. "Pegasus diamonds are actually more rare than those stones that come out of the ground naturally in that color." Why? "Because GE is only doing this with a limited number of diamonds," we dunces are again lectured.

Psycho-babble

To prove their point, GE/LKI did test marketing. Last December, sales swats commandeered four US jewelry stores and did psycho-battle with consumers. At one, after a champagne-stoked indoctrination session right out of the Manchurian Candidate, the numbers fell into place. Forty percent of the test rabbits said GE/LKI should charge more for these stones than ordinary diamonds of the same quality. Four couples actually purchased Pegasus diamond jewelry at prices three to five percent above the market price. When the remainder gushed that they preferred the taste of Pegasus diamonds to that of the leading brand, victory was declared.

Now I realize that at this point in my life I probably have fewer ticking brain cells than Dennis Rodman, but enough retain their memory imprint for me to recall the first few times I walked into a jewelry store. My jewelry-buying expertise was so extensive that you could have sold me the Mack Truck bulldog dangling from a nipple ring and I would have walked out a happy camper. Throw champagne into the mix and I would now be sporting a rhinestone-studded dog collar.

My jewelry-buying expertise was so extensive that you could have sold me the Mack Truck bulldog dangling from a nipple ring and I would have walked out a happy camper.

Gone fishin'

This is not the first big-fish tale to come our way from the idea people. Remember when the Pegasus diamond was first introduced, GE/LKI declared that the stones were merely processed. Of course, that's like attributing Liz Taylor's looks to diet and exercise, but they said it with such aplomb and conviction that some actually bought into it. To convince the rest of us, they trotted out all the old failed industry arguments. Remember some of these chestnuts?

  • We are just finishing the job of nature
  • This process is no different than cutting and polishing
  • This process need not be disclosed because it is undetectable

Let's stop and digest some of this.

  • If I take graphite and turn it into diamond, am I finishing the job of nature? Can I then sell the resulting diamond as natural?
  • How often does a seller hide the fact that a stone has been cut?
  • Since many treated green diamonds are undetectable, do I have the right to sell them as natural?

Here's an idea. Let's take some cheap light bulbs and paint GE on them and then sell them as the genuine article. Now if I'm not mistaken, that's an idea worthy even of the idea people.

 

 

 

Author's Afterword

Published in GemKey Magazine (2000, Vol. 2, No. 5, July–August, p. 50), this was installment #11 of my Digital Devil column. 

 

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