Our Quality is Black & White

September 21st, 2012 by

Recently, I have been buying two new types of sapphires for our company… black sapphires and white sapphires. And the reaction has been fantastic.

Black sapphires are opaque by nature, so one assumes they don’t have a lot of brilliance. But I have been having ours recut by our own gemstone cutters after I buy them in Bangkok. They are being cut like diamonds, and this gives them a beauty that is hard to imagine. They are popular in pendants, earrings, and all kinds of other jewelry. We carry them loose as well as mounted. Most black sapphires on the market have a touch of grey, silver or even dark blue – but I won’t buy those; mine are truly black. We pay a premium for this, but when you see both these stones and how little they actually cost anyhow, you will appreciate our extra effort.

Round Multi-Colored Sapphire Journey Earrings

White sapphires, on the other hand, resemble diamonds. It takes an experienced eye to tell the difference, in all honesty. The white sapphires I buy are also recut by our own gemstone cutters to maximize brilliance and beauty. The color is absolutely white, and they are spectacular to look at. We have had many customers use these stones instead of diamonds. While, technically, they are not as hard as diamonds, sapphires are very durable and equally suitable for everyday wearing.

We carry sapphires in every color that they come in, from all shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, lavender and pink. By adding black and white, we find that our customers can create jewelry that truly sets the mood they desire. Besides commemorating special events or things in a person’s life, jewelry with sapphires can be worn to smartly accessorize a well-groomed woman’s wardrobe. And we are actually putting more of the black sapphires into men’s jewelry than we are in our ladies’ collections.

Round Multi-Colored Sapphire Bracelet (7″)

Larger black sapphires are available. We carry some and, of course, I will always be glad to get one especially for a customer (but it may take time, depending on what is required). On the other hand, white sapphires that have the quality I demand of all our stones are almost non-existent in the larger sizes. It is not even a question of price.

Over the past 20 years, I have personally stopped buying most of the diamonds for Shane Co… But I continue to buy every ruby and sapphire we sell. I take pride in the reaction our customers have when they look inside our showcases and see the difference between our stones and those of any other jeweler in town. This is one skill that I have learned over the years, and I love doing it. I have to get each stone recut after buying it to make sure its brilliance and sparkle is maximized. When you see our newest additions – the black and the white sapphires – you will see that they live up to our high standards.

Round Multi-Colored Sapphire Journey Pendant (18″)

Most jewelers don’t even carry natural sapphires, but that is the only kind we will carry. Others carry lab-created or man-made stones, which to me are phony. When you do find a jeweler with natural sapphires, the color or the brilliance of theirs lets ours stand out and speak for themselves. I eliminate all middlemen and buy direct from the miners and cutters, and pay them cash to get the best prices.  That saving is passed on to you, our customers. But the real issue is our quality. While we welcome anyone to examine our stones up close, the reality is that the difference can be seen from far away!

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Global Gratitude

July 17th, 2012 by

I have just returned to Bangkok, where I will be staying for five weeks. It has been around nine weeks since I was here last; a very long time for me. Typically I am here for three weeks, and then back in the States for five weeks, then back in Asia. Anyhow, I am amazed to tell you how many of my Thai friends asked about the Colorado fires. Their awareness of our news, including President Obama’s visit to Colorado, never ceases to amaze me. Their concern is real; as well as a way to again thank me for the support we provided them during their floods last fall.

Part of the pleasure that I derive from being an international businessman is being able to observe how sensitive some people and cultures are toward what is happening throughout the world. Of course, there is an equal fascination on my part to observe how little some people care about anything that is not in their own back yard.

In Shane Co.’s sales training, we try to focus on having our salespeople pay attention to the customers, to be sure that they are getting the best possible service at all times. We want their experience to be memorable and superb. I suspect there may be a correlation between those individuals sensitive to others – whether in a store, in a school or community, or indeed just sharing a planet (even if living an ocean apart) – and their cultural upbringing.

Having said that, we need to respect the rights of others to control their own environment. Some people, as well as some countries, seem to be more concerned with what is going on elsewhere than they have a right to be. We need to be sure not to impose our sense of law, right or wrong, moral or immoral, or any of our other standards, upon others.

As we are in an election year in America, I am always listening to see which candidates understand that there should be limits… of control over others, of moral standards, etc. I love to be in a free atmosphere, subject to those freedoms causing harm to others and thus possibly infringing upon the rights of others and their own freedom. Having seen many so-called communist countries offer greater capitalistic freedom than so-called capitalist countries, and having been in so-called military-ruled kingdoms or otherwise dictatorships that offer more personal freedoms than so-called free countries, I really think we need to focus on our own best interest… which will allow us to set a great example to others.

I usually avoid political blog posts, and this time I don’t wish to violate that principle by talking politics, but I do hope that the more sensitive we are to the needs of others, the better we can improve our own standard of living.

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The Sights… The Sounds…

July 5th, 2012 by

Although it’s been several years since I’ve gone on a true buying trip with my father, my first trip was in January of 2005, shortly after turning 24 years old.  I had never spent any time in a place like Bangkok up until that point, and there are several memorable parts of the trip that will stick with me for the rest of my life. More than anything, it was a feeling rather than a memory. Now that I travel all over the world constantly, the feeling has vanished, but I’ll never forget how I felt on my first few days in this amazing place. If I had to describe the feeling in one word, it would be ‘foreign’. It gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘foreign country’. I remember every little detail being different, or ‘foreign’ to me, at the time. The smells, the faces, the way the cars looked, the amount of motorcycles, the way people carried things, what they carried, the animals, the food, the language, the markets… everything I looked at was foreign. I loved it! It wasn’t so much that everything there appealed to me, but rather the fact that everything foreign was so cool to me at the time. Novelty for novelty sake I suppose, but with your entire surroundings. It was an incredible feeling. I didn’t want to ever go to sleep. Life at home was filled with ‘more of the same’… I wanted ‘more different’.

We sorted through thousands of stones to get these few hundred.


Hard at work.

Even the color stone (rubies and sapphires) buying office was a totally different experience for me. My father still buys in the same office today, although the buying process is a bit more sophisticated now. I remember the color stone vendors would all hear about Tom’s return to the city to buy days in advance, and first thing in the morning they would line up and down the halls of the building, waiting for their turn to come into the buying office, which is only big enough to hold a Tom, our broker, and a seller to two. They would walk in, one by one, all in sandals, long pants, and a short-sleeve shirt. Their stones were kept in their pockets, in plastic bags. Some would have thousands of stones, some would have only a few, or even a single one. Some would have stones that were such a poor quality that after 30 seconds we’d have to send them away, after all their waiting in line, as there was no possible business that could be done between us. Some would be carrying $50 worth of goods with them, some $50,000. The negotiating process was fascinating as well, but I’ll have to leave that up to a future blog of Tom’s, if he so desires to reveal his secrets…

My girlfriend (who is now my wife) helping with the buy!


Sorting through a large assortment of stones.

Now, whenever I travel somewhere ‘foreign’, I always wake up very early in the morning before my day starts, and leave my hotel to wander on foot. I try to recall these first days in Bangkok, when everything felt so foreign, and so good.

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