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Pink Quartz

What's in a name, you ask. Well, when it comes to gems, it's the difference between boom and bust. Take pink amethyst. Thanks to a new alias, this gem may have one of the rosiest futures of any newcomer. Here's why.

Last summer, Knoxville, Tennessee-based ACN Jewelry Television introduced a small selection of what it called pink amethyst jewelry. Although very affordably priced between $79 and $149, the items, which featured concave-cut ovals in sizes 14 x 10mm and larger (some of which were set in 10k rose gold), failed to sell. ACN merchandisers were perplexed. After all, pink was the station's hottest summer color. Here was a new hue for customers to add to their expanding pink gem wardrobes.

What to do? Redesign the pieces? Lower their prices? ACN did neither. A few weeks later they reintroduced the same merchandise at the same prices. The second time around, however, it scored an impressive sell-through rate of 75 percent. What changed?

"The name changed," answers Chassidy Morrow, one of the network's jewelry buyers. "When you think of amethyst, you think more of purple than pink. But you don't have the same expectations of quartz. So we re-tagged the gem as ‘pink quartz.' Our customers thought much better of this gem as a quartz than as an amethyst."

Oh, the power of word play. As amethyst, the pale-pink quartz triggered cognitive dissonance when customers made disappointed mental comparisons with amethyst's deep-purple color norms. As quartz, however, it inspired free, unfettered associations with everything from pink petals to sudsy Brillo pads.

Unfortunately, ACN's suppliers haven't been watching the pink quartz segments. According to Morrow, most are still shipping replacement goods to them as "pink amethyst" and "Rose de France."

Now a newcomer pink quartz from Cambodia is about to be introduced into the American market as "pink berry amethyst." Pinkish it is. Amethyst it isn't. Or shouldn't be. Not if ACN's learning curve has any bearing on the matter.

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