NCDIA Executive Vice President Barbara Wheat interviewed Breanne Wittrock of Gunderson’s, and member of the NCDIA Board of Directors.
Breanne Wittrock is well known among NCDIA members as the energetic Vice President of Gunderson’s Jewelers. She is also the Vice President of NCDIA and is the Chair of the Membership Committee. She has a proven track record within the industry and has sustained many long term relationships with her wholesale partners and Gunderson’s clients.
Breanne holds the CGA (Certified Gemologist Appraiser) through the American Gem Society and is also a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America.
How did you get started working in the industry? After graduating from GIA I contacted Gunderson’s and they offered me a position. As a child, my parents had friends who were in the industry and I was always fascinated with their gemstone and diamond jewelry, so from a very young age I knew I wanted to do something with jewelry.
Do you have a favorite color diamond? I love them all! But I am particularly fascinated with greens!
What can a retailer do to stay engaged with clients? Social media? Personal contact? Instore events? I think it depends on what client you are targeting. For clients in the market for natural color, personal contact is best. But yes, talk about color on your social media platforms, it can’t hurt. And I always recommend an instore event. They are such a great way to show amazing and unique natural colored diamond pieces! The excitement they generate is very good.
What type of training do you provide for your sales team? How do you keep them motivated? I do hands on training color by color. We utilize the materials provided to us by NCDIA as a starting point. The easiest way to keep them motivated is to stay excited! Every day I read about natural color and I am always so excited about what I read it just pours over to all of our staff!!
Any other advice you can give to retailers? Be excited about what you do! It’s contagious!
What do you see as the future for natural color diamonds? I see the prices continuing to go up. I see more consumers entering the marketplace for natural color as now they are really gaining traction with all the media coverage of the auctions and more and more celebrities wearing color on the red carpet.
NCDIA Marketing Committee Co-Chair Emily Duke sat down to talk with Jose Batista of Rio Diamond Corp.
Jose Batista is an active NCDIA member who works with his father and brother at Rio Diamond Corp. based in New York City. Jose has been working in natural fancy colors since the mid-90s. He has served on several NCDIA committees and is currently a member of the Membership Committee.
For those of us who are unfamiliar, can you tell us about your business? We are a family based wholesale company specializing in natural fancy color diamonds. My name is Jose and I am a second generation wholesaler. In total, we have been in business for over 46 years.
How did you get started working in the industry? It’s a family business, and throughout my early years of exploring I would come in to work and learn. After a few years of that, one day it just clicked. I have enjoyed it ever since.
What diamond color intrigues you most? The diamond color that intrigues me the most is green. It is one of the most difficult colors to cut and for GIA to determine. If not cut properly you can lose the color for one, and secondly, it is a challenge for GIA to determine if the color is natural. Natural radiation and lab radiation can be very similar, resulting in an undetermined grade.
How has this auction season affected the industry? Your business? I believe the auctions have helped the fancy color diamond industry by exposing fancy color sales to the masses.
Auctions have helped our business by creating more inquiries and demand. However, as an industry we need to educate, guide and be more transparent to the customer. This will help both the customer (to be satisfied with the purchase) and the wholesalers/retailers (by increasing sales).
Can you tell us about a memorable stone, or stone that you handled ? A stone with a history? One of the most memorable stones for me was a large oval fancy deep blue VVS layout stone. The stone was really a vivid blue. There were so many people interested in the stone that it was an amazing feeling. After selling the stone, we kept hearing about it from new people and again from others that knew we had owned the stone previously. I am very proud of my father and how he was able to polish and bring out the beauty of the stone. It’s truly an amazing feeling to see others enjoy the beauty that we created. 😉That pops created!