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How to start a business selling precious gems and stones

Updated April 17, 2017

A gem or gemstone is a precious or semiprecious mineral that can be cut by gemstone cutters into jewellery or other artisan works. A precious or semi-precious stone can refer to certain rocks such as lapis or organic materials like amber that are used in a similar fashion as gems. There are many ways to enter the market for gems and stones. Uncut rough gems or stones can be imported directly from their country of origin or they can be purchased from domestic gem and stone wholesalers or distributors. Also, polished gems and stones can be purchased to sell through a retail store or as a mail-order supplier to jewellery makers and other artisans.

Conduct industry research. Learn about the different types precious and semi-precious gems and stones. Learn how to identify quality in both rough and cut gemstones. Obtain knowledge of market values, which often fluctuate based on supply. For instance, certain gems require certification from such organisations like the Gemology Institute of America (GIA).

Write a business plan. Drafting a business plan helps to determine business feasibility, identify business goals and determine financial and human capital requirements. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides business plan drafting assistance through its online resources.

Start-up the business entity. Apply for a tax identification number (TIN) from the IRS and set up a business bank account for the new entity.

Secure a business address. This business can be operated as a home-based mail-order business using a printed catalogue and/or a professional website. In this case, a post office address will suffice. To sell directly to the public in a retail environment, lease a brick and mortar storefront. Selecting a commercial community to start a business is one of the most important steps for a new business. Access to vehicle and foot traffic are important considerations.

Join industry organisations. The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) is a professional organisation that offers its members access to industry publications such as the AGTA Source Directory. They also organise the annual AGTA trade show that draws gemstone wholesalers and distributors. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society (TGMS) also produces an important annual industry trade show. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show draws major industry distributors, wholesalers, retailers, jewellery makers and other artisans.

Warning

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal or tax advice.

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About the Author

Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications such as the "Chicago Tribune" and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.