11 Feb 2009
The Necklace, En Route to Buenos Aires; Cruise Day 16
To summarize for both new and returning readers, I struck up an interesting relationship on the way to Rio.
A very nice young man befriended us and we spent quite some time with him. When he found out who we were, he was fascinated and wanted to know the life story of all of our famous poker buddies. Worse yet, he had questions about how he had played every hand in his several year poker history.
The reason, and only reason, he was on the ship, was to attract buyers to the family jewelry store in Rio. This is common. There were three competitors on board with the exact assignment. Rio is the best place in the world for buying colored jewelry, formerly referred to as semi-precious gems.
Indeed, one of the things we have been looking forward to for months was jewelry shopping in Rio, even though, generally speaking, I don’t much look forward to shopping.
Here was the conundrum. We certainly were happy to visit our friend's shop, but didn’t know exactly how to interpret the representation that he would treat us “special.”
They did provide us with a private car, guide, and driver during our stay in Rio, but I have had that same experience before. These guys know how to market, and somehow they know who to give the freebies to. It reminds me of home (Las Vegas).
Our first day in Rio, we venture the store. The “special” salesman serving Allyn is terrible. He starts out with a $55,000 ring; she gets nervous and just wants to leave. Then Allyn pleads to see an entire selection of fun things, reminding him that our range is up to 10% of the price of the ring.
The guy is so bad, and nothing looks appealing, and we just had to leave. Our friend asks what the problem is. We told him we wanted something with lots of stones, unique, reasonably priced, and a good deal – all which he had previously promised.
He finds a necklace (see picture) that she loves. The price is “normally” about $10,000, but because we are pals he marks it down to $9,100 (that’s his special family and friends deal). We tell him that we love it, are sure it is worth it, but for us it was priced more than we are comfortable paying these days (we have good jewelry connections, prices are dropping, and times are tough, blah, blah, blah). He asks for some time to speak to his Dad because it is important that Allyn “gets what she wants.” Barf.
At this point, I feel like I am buying a car. He comes back in the room and says they are willing to go to $8,100 (“a steal”), because of the friendship. Then he starts with the 1,115 carats, etc. I say I want to do Internet research, analyze things, and get back the next day at noon to see if it still jingles our chimes.
Besides, I needed his car the next morning.
After serious research, we determine the price is fine. Allyn loves it, but we just are not comfortable with that price range. I mean we are just talking Citrine. Furthermore, by watching his actions in the store, it is clear that none of this is because I am special.
We come in the next day and he immediately sits us with his gemologist to talk value. This bugged me. One stone had an imperfection we could clearly see. No big deal, but I was totally offended when he said that the imperfection is actually good because “then we know the stones are real not glass.”
I said I wanted to make an offer that they could take or leave. He said the price was cast in stone (intentional pun). We thanked him for his time and got up to leave. He flew out the door to get the owner.
I had converted to their dollars, so there would be no misunderstanding and offered the equivalent of $6,000 an additional 26% off. The fact that they were considering it proved how special I wasn’t.
They finally said yes, if I would write a check or pay cash (because their charges are so high here). I said it is this or exactly $5,000 cash. 20 minutes later they took the cash.