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Why Incredible Customer Service is … Unforgettable

Why Incredible Customer Service is … Unforgettable

No matter your sector, no matter whether you’re retail or B2B, you’re probably selling fairly similar products as your competitors. What sets you apart, however, is your customer service. In a world where anyone can get anything from just about anywhere, what will make a consumer choose you? The answer is “great service.” It’s how you build not just customer loyalty but real, enduring relationships with people. We always strive to give our customers something more in addition to our fine lab-grown diamonds. That something more is, of course, the aforementioned great service. To get an idea of what that looks like, here are a few examples from different industries.

True Social Media Engagement

Many businesses are embracing social media as a cheap and easy marketing channel, but it takes more than frequent updates and large follower counts to get anything out of it. What every business is after on social media is engagement. That’s exactly what Morton’s The Steakhouse, a restaurant in Hackensack, NJ, achieved by engaging with a customer tweet. When a frequent customer tweeted, ““Hey @mortons, can you meet me at Newark Airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks,” he probably wasn’t expecting anything to come of it. But when he got off of the plane in Newark, he found, much to his surprise, a Morton’s employee in a tuxedo waiting for him with that porterhouse steak.

The story went viral, ending up in many popular web publications like Huffpost, Forbes, and Gizmodo [link: https://gizmodo.com/mortons-steakhouse-met-a-man-at-the-airport-with-a-stea-5832514]. The cost of a porterhouse, a few sides, a 30-minute drive from Hackensack, and parking at the airport is nothing compared to this kind of exposure and positive association. And think about the decisiveness on the part of whoever is running that twitter account. They got in touch with the restaurant, got the order placed, and arranged transportation to the airport. They found the man’s flight and his gate, and they made this unforgettable experience happen in under two hours.

Turning a Good Experience into a Great One

What is it worth to you to win a customer for life? Heimdallr [link: https://www.cxservice360.com/heimdallr-customer-service-story/#more-9032] answered that question after they went to unexpected lengths to turn a frustrating but decent customer experience into an unforgettably satisfying one. The customer in question purchased a watch in green, but received the model in black. Within 24 hours of his initial email informing the company of the mix-up, Heimdallr refunded the cost of return shipping and shipped out the watch in the correct color along with a free watchband.

But the story doesn’t end there. The watch he received had a slight flaw, but he was willing to overlook it. A customer service representative reached out to him a few days later to follow up, and he reported the flaw but did not intend to return the watch. Still, Heimdallr refunded the full cost of the watch anyway.

The customer said he had never intended to buy another Heimdallr watch, that it was to be a one-time purchase. “I had planned for Heimdallr to be a one-and-done brand addition to my collection, but now I will be absolutely returning.” He said on a post on the watchuseek.com forum. “They gave me one of the best customer service I’ve had in my life. Not just from a watch company, but from any category of product I’ve ever purchased.” So not only did this experience turn him into a repeat customer, it moved him to post about his positive experience to a forum with half a million members. Positive customer reviews help businesses thrive. This is how you get them.  

Putting the Customer First

Jewelry designer Aileen Wong provides a simple example [link: https://jewelrymakingjournal.com/jewelry-business-customer-service/] of what putting the customer first can do for you. After designing a piece for a customer, the customer seemed initially satisfied but later decided that the piece was not quite what she wanted. In a case like that, where you put your heart and soul into designing a work of art for someone, it is easy to take it personally, get your feelings hurt, put your own comfort ahead of the customer’s, and make a decision that could damage your business in the long run. But Aileen stayed cool and referenced her sales policy, which allowed for returns, and took the product back. She then sent the customer a thank you note along with a discount code as a way to say, sorry it didn’t work out this time, but we’d love to have you back.

This story also illuminates the importance of implementing clear policies and following through on them. Both buyer and seller should be on the same page in terms of what to expect from a transaction. It’s no different from laying out the rules of a game before playing. If you suddenly bring up a rule that hadn’t been explained before, the other player is going to feel cheated, unless you’re playing Calvinball. But sales is not Calvinball.

Going the Extra Mile, or Working the Extra Hour

But clear policies will only take you so far. Sometimes you have to break the rules, and when you do, it should be in the customer’s favor, like accepting a return even if it’s not your policy, or meeting with potential customers after hours. That “Closed” sign sets a clear boundary in the buyer-seller relationship, but sometimes you have to break down those boundaries and go the extra mile—or work the extra hour. According to this article from INSTORE Magazine [link: https://instoremag.com/jewelry-store-extreme-customer-service/], 57% of respondents work more than 45 hours per week. Jeweler Eric Ohanian of Eric Ohanian & Sons Co. in Boston talks about meeting with two customers at the end of a 11-hour workday. “Giving that extra level of service is all that sets us apart from the big box stores or the Internet,” he says. And you can’t have a productive conversation that builds a strong relationship after working 11 hours straight unless you truly love making connections and making people happy.

That’s what great customer service comes down to: you have to want to make people happy. No amount of training or policies will get you there unless you and your employees have an innate desire to get to know people, build relationships, and leave them satisfied.

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Beyond Jewelry: The Many Faces of Diamonds

Beyond Jewelry: The Many Faces of Diamonds

We’re in the business of creating gemstone-quality diamonds for jewelry, but there are a lot of things diamonds are used for beyond jewels! Lab-grown diamonds are an important part of many industrial and scientific applications.

Lab-grown gemstones weren’t always so high in quality. In fact, the first lab-grown diamonds were far too small and dull to be of any use in jewelry at all. For a long time, the available technology could only produce diamonds useful for industrial purposes. Today, about 98% of industrial-grade diamonds are lab-grown. Some 70% of mined diamonds are not suitable for jewelry. These not-suitable-for-jewelry diamonds, known as “bort” (which we mention only so we can reference The Simpsons), are typically used for polishing the other 30% of mined diamonds.

“We need more Bort license plates in the gift shop. I repeat, we are sold out of Bort license plates”

 

Lab-grown diamonds make up such a large share of industrial-grade diamonds, in part, because nobody really mines diamonds just for industrial purposes. The only way the business can be profitable is by mining and selling gemstone-quality crystals. The same is not the case in the lab-grown sector, which can profitably produce both sparkling, clear gemstones and the kind of material used in industry. We prefer the sparkling kind, but we also recognize the importance of the harder-working sort. So let’s take a look at the many faces of diamonds.

Abrasives

Being the hardest natural substance on earth, it makes sense that diamonds are used in many industries. One of the main uses for diamonds is as an abrasive. Diamond is actually more cost-effective for cutting, polishing, and grinding than cheaper materials because it cuts faster and lasts longer.

One common use of diamond abrasive is in saw blades. But if you’re picturing a blade cut from a single massive diamond, that’s unfortunately not quite how it works. And as cool as that would be, it wouldn’t be feasible either. Despite being the hardest natural substance on earth, diamonds are rather brittle, and if an object struck even the smallest flaw or fracture in the diamond blade, the whole thing would crack. So what exactly are diamond saw blades?

If you’ve ever had to cut concrete, brick, or tile, you probably know the answer. When you need to cut something really hard, why not use the hardest natural substance on earth? (“Hardest natural substance on earth” count = 3.) If you’ve seen one of these blades, you know that they don’t cut with a sharp edge. The flat diamond-coated circumference actually grinds down the material through friction.

Diamond-coated saw blades use lab-grown diamonds so that the diamonds can be grown to exacting specifications. Diamond growers can grow crystals suitable for different speeds and for cutting different materials.

Heat Sinks

Diamond has the highest thermal conductivity of any material. But while materials with thermal conductivity are often electrical conductors, diamond is an insulator. As a result, it makes an effective heat sink for lasers and high-power diodes and transistors.

Semiconductors

Wait, didn’t we just say diamonds were insulators? Lab-grown diamonds can be used as electrical conductors because conductive materials such as boron can be added during the growth process. The demand for semiconductors is always rising, and lab-grown diamonds being able to serve this function would add a bit of sustainability to an industry reliant on rare precious metals.

Laser Optics

We look up at the night sky and wax poetic, seeing in the stars a string of diamonds, but there are also actual diamonds in space. Just last year, NASA launched a probe called Lucy carrying an infrared spectrometer whose beamsplitter is made of lab-grown diamonds. A beamsplitter is an optical device that splits light into separate beams. Diamond’s high refractive index makes it the perfect material for this application.

At this point, you probably have some questions. No, not about the science of Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, but about the probe’s name. Is it called Lucy because it’s in the sky…with diamonds? That’s far too straightforward. The actual reason is a little more convoluted than that. The probe is named for the fossilized human ancestor paleontologists called Lucy, which itself was named after the Beatles song, and also because the Trojans, small asteroids that share an orbital path with Jupiter, have a great scientific value, like diamonds in the sky. Like we said, convoluted. We like our explanation better.

These are just a few of the many industrial applications of diamonds. Of course, Primo doesn’t sell industrial lab-grown diamonds. We only sell big, beautiful, brilliantly-cut-and-polished gem quality diamonds. But the same properties that make diamonds uniquely beautiful also make them uniquely suited to a number of specialized tasks in construction, industry, and scientific research.

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Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds

As the market for lab-grown diamonds grows, so does the debate about the pros and cons of lab-grown vs. mined diamonds. Though lab-grown diamonds have been widely available for about a decade now, it’s still a fairly new technology, and you need to be sure that you’re getting a high-quality product, especially when there are so many claims coming from advocates of both mined and lab-grown diamonds. So why should you choose lab-grown over mined? Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision.

Price

One of the most important factors driving the popularity of lab-grown diamonds is their price. There was a time, years ago, when lab-grown diamonds were actually more expensive than mined diamonds. Over the years, however, lab-grown diamonds have become increasingly affordable, and in 2022, a lab-grown diamond can cost anywhere between 50% and 70% less than a mined diamond of similar size and quality.

Size

The lower price of lab-grown diamonds has the potential to put a diamond into the hands of someone who never thought they could own one. But it also gives those with a larger budget the opportunity to purchase an even larger diamond than previously possible.

Creativity

Not only does the lab-grown revolution allow you to purchase a larger diamond; you could potentially purchase a piece containing multiple diamonds. Designers are less limited by the cost of diamonds when creating pavé designs (a large number of small stones placed close together, like paving stones), or when choosing accent stones.

Quality

There has to be a tradeoff for the lower cost of lab-grown diamonds, right? Their lower price could lead one to believe that diamonds grown in a lab are cheaper because they are of a lower quality than mined diamonds. Fortunately, that is not the case. When you buy a lab-grown diamond, you are not sacrificing quality in any way. This is because lab-grown diamonds are chemically identical to mined diamonds. Both have the same brilliance, fire, and scintillation because they are both the same substance: 99.95% carbon arranged in a crystal structure. The rough crystals are both cut into the same shapes, using the same techniques. No one, not even an experienced gemologist, can spot the difference between a mined diamond and a lab-grown diamond.

All of our diamonds come with a grading report from the International Gemological Institute, an independent organization dedicated to accurately grading gemstones and verifying their origin (mined or lab-grown) and the presence of any additional treatments. Our diamonds are sold as-grown, which means they are given no post-growth treatment to improve color.

Environmental Considerations

It’s important for us not to oversell the ethical benefits of lab-grown diamonds. Those benefits exist, but they are not as cut-and-dry as some would make them out to be. Though the diamond industry has taken steps to clean up its act both ethically and environmentally, you still might have concerns about the impact your diamond has on the climate, on the environment, and on the people who either mined it or live close to the mine. Lab-grown diamonds can be the answer to those concerns, but the consumer still has to do some work, as not all diamond-growing labs are the same.

Lab-grown diamonds are often touted as the clean alternative to mined diamonds, but it’s important for those in the lab-grown diamond industry to be transparent about these claims. It’s not always the case that laboratories use less electricity or emit less carbon per carat produced than diamond mines, but many lab-grown diamond operations are cleaner than mining operations. You can’t assume that all lab-grown diamonds are better for the environment than all mined diamonds, but if environmental stewardship is important to you, you can certainly find lab-grown diamonds grown using only renewable energy, or that use less energy overall than a diamond mine.

Cutting-Edge Science

In addition to the more tangible benefits, owning a lab-grown diamond means owning a scientific marvel. It takes millions of years for a diamond to form inside the Earth, and not every diamond that comes out of the ground is the clear, colorless crystal that is so sought-after. We can now do it in a matter of weeks, producing high-quality diamonds more consistently than nature can. Just because it comes out of a HTHP press and not a mine doesn’t make it any less miraculous that under the right conditions, carbon atoms in a molten solution can align themselves in a way that produces one of the most beautiful objects in existence.

There are so many reasons to purchase a lab-grown diamond. Which of these was the deciding factor in your decision? 

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Do Lab-Grown Diamonds Hold Their Value?

There’s no question about the look and feel of a lab-grown diamond. It is chemically identical to
a mined diamond, and a high-quality, expertly cut lab-grown diamond is just as lovely as its
mined counterpart. That’s not up for debate anymore. But one category in which lab-grown and
mined diamonds differ is in value, particularly in resale value. Lab-grown diamonds already cost
less than mined diamonds; the question is, will they hold their value like mined diamonds?
Some jewelers, specifically those interested in selling only mined diamonds, will say no,
lab-grown diamonds do not hold their value. They will tell you that lab-grown diamonds are
becoming more affordable every day, and because more can be made at any time—they’re not
a scarce, finite resource like diamonds that come from the ground—they will be worthless in the
future. Lab-grown diamonds, according to this claim, are poor investments that have no resale
value.

But the truth, as always, is more complex than this. First of all, the claim that lab-grown
diamonds won’t hold their value contains the assumption that mined diamonds will. There are
many people who look at diamonds as a commodity investment, like precious metals such as
gold and platinum. But the diamond market doesn’t work this way, and saying “lab-grown
diamonds don’t hold their value” only tells half the story, because mined diamonds don’t, either.
Mined diamonds values have always fluctuated, they cannot be traded as financial instruments,
and nobody can predict what the value of a mined diamond will be in the future.

Diamonds Are Not Investments Like Gold

Diamonds are not comparable to precious metals. Throughout human history and across
cultures, gold has been used as a store of value. It was relatively useless to toolmakers, but the
malleability that made it useless also made it easy to shape into coins and bars of specific
weights and values. Pure gold also doesn’t rust, tarnish, or corrode over time, so those bars can
be easily and safely stored. But most of all, gold is valuable because we have agreed implicitly
that it is valuable, and even as (and sometimes, because) the relative values of currencies
fluctuate, gold remains valuable and comparatively stable. In difficult economic times, people
trade their dollars for gold, knowing that it will hold its value regardless of what the dollar is
worth. So in this sense, even gold isn’t so much an “investment” as a relatively safe and stable
way to park your wealth. And remember - gold cannot be traded as a financial instrument either!
While diamonds are valuable, they are not the historical, socially agreed-upon universal marker
of value that is gold. They are a much more volatile commodity. This goes for both the lab-grown
and mined varieties. When jewelers are reluctant to hold a large stock of lab-grown diamonds
for fear that the price they purchased them at will be “too high” by the time they sell, their fears
are not totally unfounded. Holding a large stock of mined diamonds is already a bit of a risk.
With the way prices for lab-grown diamonds have dropped over the last few years, it would be a
bigger risk to keep inventory that you don’t expect to sell for another year.

This is not a problem that mined diamonds typically have, because their price fluctuations have
been slower over time, so it’s always safe to keep some diamond inventory in your vault. But
during this time of adjustment, as the market gets used to lab-grown diamonds, we don’t
recommend buying and holding a lot of lab-grown inventory. And Primo Diamonds is happy to
create memo and sales programs for our retail partners to buffer your inventory investment risk.

Lab-Grown Diamonds: An Infinite Supply?

It is true that the total number of mined diamonds is limited by how much gemstone-quality
rough can be extracted from the world’s mines. And it is true that, theoretically, there is no limit
to the number of lab-grown diamonds that can be created. But it still takes time, effort,
equipment, and expertise to create a gemstone-quality lab-grown diamond. Even lab-grown
diamonds vary in quality, with the very highest quality diamonds still being rare. On top of that,
it’s not just the quality of the rough that determines a diamond’s value; it is the quality of the cut,
and expert lapidarists are a limited commodity. It’s not like there are factories pumping out
thousands of diamonds every day. The process may take weeks or months rather than millions
of years, but there is still a limit to how many diamonds can realistically be produced.

The Resale Market

Beyond the questions about investment value, there are also the realities of the resale market to
consider. Right now, there is not much of a resale market for lab-grown diamonds. This is
because the technology hasn’t been around long enough to sustain one. But people buying
mined diamonds thinking they can make a profit or even just recoup their costs in the resale
market are going to be disappointed, as well. Jewelers buy diamonds from wholesalers, who
can offer better prices than any individual consumer looking to sell their diamond ring.
Furthermore, that individual seller will never get anything close to the full price of their diamond
because jewelers need to make a profit, too. So again, neither lab-grown nor mined diamonds
really hold their value.

A Meaningful Luxury, Not a Financial Investment

While gold is both a luxury purchase and a safe haven, diamonds should be seen as just a
luxury purchase, like an expensive sports car. No one buys a new car with the expectation that it
is going to hold its value. Maybe you’ll be able to trade it in a few years down the line, but you
know that it’s going to be worth a fraction of the original price. You buy a new car for what it can
do for you now, for what it means to you and how it will make you feel, not with the expectation
that it’s going to make you money later or even maintain its value. We need to start looking at
diamonds the same way.

The true value of a diamond, or any piece of jewelry, is in what it means for the buyer. What a
diamond is: a symbol of everlasting commitment, the celebration of the birth of a child, a reward
for a great accomplishment—or simply a way to add a little glamor to your life. What a
diamond—any type of diamond—is not: an investment.

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Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Certified?

When you buy a mined diamond—if you’re buying from a reputable dealer—you will receive a certificate from an independent third party ensuring that your diamond is everything the seller claims it to be: that its grade is accurate, that its carat weight is accurate, whether it has received any color treatment, and so on.

But what about lab-grown diamonds? The good news for consumers is that lab-grown diamonds are certified, as well. All Primo lab-grown diamonds are independently certified by the International Gemological Institute (IGI). IGI was the first gemological laboratory to receive ISO 17025 certification for testing and calibration laboratories. In order to receive this certification, testing laboratories must demonstrate their ability to consistently produce valid results.

Why is Diamond Certification Important?

This certificate is important because it verifies the word of the seller. For instance, none of our diamonds are given post-growth treatment to enhance color. A certificate or grading report (the two terms are used interchangeably) will verify that claim. Generally, it’s a bad idea to buy a diamond without a certificate. An experienced consumer might be able to know quality when they see it, but it’s easy to overlook the fine details. That’s why it’s a good idea to get independent verification. It’s the same reason why lawyers will hire a lawyer rather than represent themselves in court and it’s why even the most experienced writers still need editors. Everyone needs an impartial party poring over the details that you could miss in the moment. Without independent verification, dishonest brokers are free to deceive and honest ones might still make mistakes.

What Does A Diamond Certificate Cover?

The certificate grades the diamond according to the 4Cs—carat, color, clarity, and cut—as well as the quality of the polish, the diamond’s symmetry, and whether or not it exhibits fluorescence or has undergone post-growth treatment. All of these criteria influence a diamond’s value, and a certificate lets you have some reassurance that you don’t just have to take the seller’s word for it. Let’s look at some of those criteria individually.

Carat

Carat refers to the weight of a gemstone. 1 ct. = 200 mg or 0.007 oz. You might have an idea of the difference between a 0.5 ct. diamond and a 1 ct. diamond, but without a certificate, an unscrupulous dealer might try to pass off a 0.9 ct. diamond as a 1 ct. diamond. When dealing with diamonds, the difference between the two could amount to hundreds of dollars. Misrepresentation of the weight of a diamond is a serious crime according to the FTC, so a certificate protects both consumer and seller.

Color

Diamonds are graded on a scale from D-Z, D being colorless and Z being yellow. Grades D, E, and F are all “colorless,” but it takes an expert to tell the difference between, say, a D and an E. Moreover, the use of a scale like this ensures consistency from one diamond to the next. Many lab-grown diamonds, especially those grown using the CVD method, undergo post-growth treatment to remove a yellow or brown tint and produce a colorless diamond.

Clarity

Clarity rating is a little more complicated. Diamonds are rated from Internally Flawless (I.F.), which means free of inclusions, to I 3, which indicates the presence of inclusions that affect transparency and brilliance.

Cut

Here is where a lab-grown diamond can really shine. Even more important than the quality of the diamond rough is the quality of the cut. We have been cutting fine diamonds since 1985, and our expertise shows in the quality of our cuts that maximize the optical properties of diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are cut in the same way and in the same shapes as mined diamonds. Your certificate will describe the type of cut as well as the quality, dimensions, symmetry, and proportions.

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