The Gem Merchant
The Manual of How to Buy & Sell Gems
David S. Epstein

Gem Market Publications


Review - by EDWARD BOEHM - JOEB Enterprises - Solana Beach, California

"See what Gems & Gemology - The Magazine of the Gemological Institute of America - has to say about The Gem Merchant"

The Gem Merchant: How to Be One, How to Deal with One, 2nd Edition

Gem merchant David Epstein acurately covers many of the details involved in the daily practice of his profession. Every retail jeweler, manufacturer, and gemologist should read this book in order to better understand the responsibilities and risks gem merchants assume when pursuing loose stones for their clients. Although there is valuable advice for anyone considering a career in gemstone trading, Epstein aptly states that this book was written more for jewelers and manufactures.

The book is divide into four major sections: buying, marketing, cutting, and general information. The discussion assumes a basic knowledge of gemstones and the industry, and the author's warnings and advice should deter those who are not willing to take tne necessary risks. This is, after all, an industry that rewards the very few who have the endurance and patience to accept the learning curve that comes only with time and experience.

The book's first section focuses on buying and the need for product education and experience to accurately determine quality and value. Epstein also mentions the importance of keeping track of all purchases and expenses. Principles of gemstone trading and valuation are addressed, with tips on assessing such factors as cut, color, size, and pricing. The illustrations are accurate and easy to understand. This section also teaches the buyer to beware of supply and demand factors that dictate price and to always remember that gem supplies are finite. In one of the most important features of this chapter, Epstein gives sound advice on how to travel safely, stay incognito, keep goods close, use local assistants or contacts, and be aware of local trade customs.

The second section contains many useful strategies for successful marketing and sales. The first and most important step is to develop and write out a marketing plan. He explains the five steps of closing a sale by including excellent examples o evaluating and developing a customer's “attention, interest, conviction, [and] disire”, and then closing the sale. The section devoted to purchase control sheets and order forms seems to focus more on Epstein's personal methods on inventory control and management than on the general idea of record keeping and good accounting practices. Epstein also gives sound advice on how to properly use the Internet as a communication and sales tool.

Section three, titled “Cutting (Manufacturing),” starts out with a strong waring to the uninitiated: Successfully buying and cutting rough takes practice, experience, and time. This section continues with valuable information on how to grade and value rough gems properly. Once again, the focus is on experience and exercising caution when venturing into the evaluation of rough. He addresses many of the basic tips that wholesalers apply by providing some useful examples and illustrations. This section ends with recutting (poorly cut, damaged, or worn gems) and contract cutting. In my opinion, however, these topics should have been featured at the beginning, since they are skills that one should acquire before cutting from rough.

The final section addresses general topics and is full of excelent advice. One of the best is the suggestion that one rely on comparison stones when buying gems for which subtle differences in color are important. Since even highly trained graders have lapses in color memory, comparison stones can help the gem dealer avoid costly mistakes. Epstein also describes the ideal color range of some of the most commonly traded gems. This section continues with illuminating examples of shams, scams, and rip-offs, as well as what one should look for in a reliable and trustworthy gem merchant. The major international gem trading centers are also briefly described and put into context by tracing their historical development and significance. My favorite part in this final section, however, is the author's historical analysis of the gem trade. In it, he addresses the conflicting views associated with gemstone grading, past and present economic trends, the fragmentation of the colored stone industry, advances in shipping and trasportation, exploration breakthroughs, and gem prices and profit margins. Epstein concludes by predicting that, because of greater competition, the gem industry will become more specialized as gem merchants are forced to focus on particular areas of expertise. These merchants will have to take advantage of innovations and use them to their advantage to compete in the rapidly changing marketplace.

More Reviews                                                                                         


Learn How to Be
One or Deal With
a Gem Merchant

The ONLY book available on the subject, the subtitle of this book says it all:
"The Manual of How To Buy and Sell Gems," and it shows you how to do just that—and do it successfully! The editor-in-chief of Gems and Gemology says, "...eminently qualified to write this book!"

When I started as a gem merchant I had success, but not enough to do it full time. After David let me in on the secrets revealed in this book my business got to the point where it is a successful full time business.

 --Joe DeCristoforo,
New York, US

More Reviews