Loose Diamonds for Orange County, CA from Glenn Ballard of BallardGem.com

Glenn & Guy Ballard

Glenn & Guy Ballard

Glenn Ballard: We deal with something a little bit smaller. I’m just thinking, who else here has a retail environment? Who else works in the retail environment? I think Jim’s probably the closest, right? Having a store with store hours and inventory. We deal with, obviously, pretty high-ticket items. We deal with luxury goods.

Nobody needs what we have. Nobody walks in the door and says… we
say, “Want anything else?” “Oh, I don’t need anything
today.” No, you didn’t walk in because you needed it. You
walk in because you want it, you can afford it, you want to
say something.

Of course, there’s repair. People need repair. We do a ton of repair.
Eighty percent of people coming in the door are for repair,
so I want everyone to remember that we do repair, probably
a majority, [inaudible 00:00:52] business we do is from
repair. What that really does is it helps lead people to
understand our expertises. We know how this stuff is made.
If you know how to repair it, know how to fix it, you know
the construction concepts, the materials, they go, “Well,
maybe we’ll trust them with something else.” I really
appreciate all the business we’ve gotten from Business Growth Innovators from
all the repair, and, of course, it leads on to those other
things that we do.

The big one coming up that I’m sure you guys have heard about,
because we told you about it for 16 years or longer, and
that’s that we go to Antwerp to buy diamonds. I’ve already
had people ask me how it was and what did I get, and I’m
like, “Well, I don’t leave for a month.” Usually, I let
people know six weeks out, and we keep sending out
reminders. We have another e-mail and post card things that
will be going. I’m leaving on June 12th this year. For the
first time, it’s going to be in June. It’s always been in
the fall.

We just want to try a different time of year. I’d like to see maybe
what it’s like when it’s a little warmer there. It might be
good. Also, we’ll pick up different people that do it at
different times of the year. There will be different
anniversaries, birthdays, and, of course, the holidays are
always the biggest time of year for the jewelry industry
and probably most retailers.

Of course, things for the holidays, and we do layaway all the way
through the holiday. As we’re telling people, that’s too
far away. It’s six months early, but by the time we go over
there and pick it and we get it back and we start working
on something, something custom, perhaps, for certain
people, six months is sometimes what it takes. Then, we’ll
hold it. We love it because we can show it for a few
months. We don’t mind holding it for a while, either.

Does anyone have… I know we’ve announced before… on your cell
phone, your iPad, your computer, we have an app. You want a
little something to do while you’re fiddling around? It’s
called The Vow. Easy to remember. The Vow. Download that
app, and that way you can show people on your phone. It’s
an engagement ring finding tool to reach out to get to the
new bridal customer, which is a huge part of our business.
You’re in the jewelry business, you need to have a wedding
department, sell engagement rings, diamonds, and The Vow
is, working with a manufacturer, it’s our app. It’ll locate
us. You can sign up at our store. It’ll send us
information. You can request the price.

The main thing it is is it lets these girls or guys or anyone that’s
just looking, they can browse the different designs. We
have a very small sampling, about 40 or 50 of the rings,
and it’s really very amazing. It shows you a 3D view. The
ring will be spinning in a video. There’s an option where
you can take a picture of your hand, her hand, and put the
ring on it. It’s really cool. With the younger crowd,
you’ve got to be cool. That’s what they want.

As everyone knows, there’s this thing called the Internet. Have you
guys heard about that? People walk in nowadays. They used
to bring magazine clippings or whatever. Now, it’s like,
“What are you looking for? What has she seen? Here you go.
Here’s what she’s seen.” Right on the phone. That’s great.
Perfect. Instead of them drawing in the air, “This is what
she likes.” Okay, great. We have that. We can modify that.
We can make that. That’s just the environment we all deal
with nowadays.

As you might imagine, you can buy anything on the Internet. I don’t
know how many websites there are. You can buy diamonds
right on the Internet, right there. That’s what we’re
competing with. I’m sure all of us are. We’ll even show
people, “Here we go. What diamond are you looking for? Is
it on the Internet? Okay, here’s the website they found.”

I go, “How come the exact same stone, the exact same size, the exact
same grade, there’s a list of 50 of them here, and there’s
100% difference in the price on this list?” All the same.
On paper, it’s all the same. Which one do you buy? How do
you know? That’s the issue. If it was that easy, I wouldn’t
have to travel 10,000 miles to Belgium. We would just go by
the list and go to the top and get the best deal, right?

Yeah. You know, people buy tons of them that way. That’s the way it’s
done. Unfortunately, you find out later, a lot of times,
it’s not quite what it says or there’s a lot more to it
than the statistics, the stats. It’s more like buying
artwork, to understand the way the diamond is cut, the way
that the light reflects down into the facets and underneath
and back out to present to the eye. It’s very simple, but
it’s very complicated if you’re not sure what you’re
looking for.

Also, the grades on diamonds, they all have different grades for
where the inclusion is. But where is it located? There’s
only one grade for a degree of inclusion, but where it’s
located when we’re looking at it in person makes a huge
difference in how it looks and what the value is.

When we go to Belgium, and if you’re talking to people, especially if
they’re thinking about getting married or they want to
upgrade a diamond or a big anniversary, have them talk to
us. There’s two things usually people want. They either
want to get a great deal, and we’ll shop that way, which
means we’re not necessarily shopping for the inclusion in
the right spot and the right place.

Some people want the biggest one they can for the least amount of
money. Great. Belgium’s the place to do it, because it’s
where 80% of the world’s supply is sitting at any one time.
We can go shop for big size, big flash, little cash, and
get a great big diamond for someone. If that’s what they
want, that’s what they get.

Later, I have someone else who says, “I really want the best artistic
sparkly diamond that’s available.” Of course, now, that’s
probably going to be a premium, not a discount. That’s kind
of the way it works. The better stuff costs. But to find it
in L.A. or New York, it’s possible, but when you go to the
source… I tell people it’s sort of like we’re at the
front of the line now. We’re not going to wait to see what
gets imported into the States. We’re up there where they’re
coming off the cutting wheel, and we get the first pick.

We’re leaving on June 13th, so the last day for the order is June
12th. That’s less than a month away. Any questions? Two
minutes? Questions, then. Perfect.

Audience Member: When you’re traveling back with all the diamonds, do you
have to wear a briefcase with a wristcuff on it?

Glenn: No, we stick them in our socks.

Audience Member: Between your toes.

Glenn: That’s funny. Everyone asks, “Where do you put them?” Guess
what? We leave them there, and they send them to us. They
arrive in our office two or three weeks later, depending on
customs, US Post Office. Right through the front door, a
guy pulls them out of his bag, a $200,000 box. He’s like,
“What’s this?” I’ve got his business cards. Can you
imagine? There would be a lot of dead diamond importers at
the airport. It’s actually illegal. It would be smuggling,

Audience Member: Do you do resetting of diamonds, fusion of bands?

Glenn: Yes. That’s another whole half an hour speech. I think you
could be a good member. We’ve got lots of anniversaries.

Audience Member: I have an application.

Glenn: Probably what I do the majority of my day is I design. In this
business, in school, other than hurdling… too bad you
[inaudible 00:09:45] my golf handicap, I shouldn’t have
told that, right? When it gets down to seven… it was
seven, right? In school, I was always doing the art and
drawing and doing the posters and building stuff. Design is
what I do all day long. It’s what I like to do. Bring me
some design work, and send some customers over to talk to
me about Antwerp.

Audience Member: Thank you, Glenn. Awesome.

Glenn & Guy Ballard
18400 Brookhurst
Fountain Valley, CA 92708