The Silver Lining at Slow Trade Shows? Dealer-to-Dealer Sales

By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief

What takes place at every trade fair but is not widely discussed and can make the difference between a good show and a meh one? Dealer-to-dealer sales—transactions done with peers, not regular customers—are normal activities that happen during shows and aid everyone who’s renting a booth.

Seasoned dealers have phenomenal sourcing capabilities and contacts worldwide, but inevitable holes in inventories do surface. This is where dealer friends can help. If you’re struggling to source a particular stone, vendor peers with different specialties might have it and be willing to sell. And finding these opportunities—and potentially new contacts—is a whole lot easier at a show.

“This is a common thing,” says Kambiz Sabouri, Gem 2000, Inc. “It happens because dealers always have needs that are not filled by regular buying trips. When we buy, we buy what is available, but there are gaps in every dealer’s inventory that can be satisfied through dealer-to-dealer business.”.

Ruby from Gem 2000, Inc.
Ruby from Gem 2000, Inc.
Ruby and Diamond ring from AG Gems & Jewelry, Inc.
Ruby and Diamond ring from AG Gems & Jewelry, Inc.
D2D Transactions

Dealer-to-dealer sales are informal occurrences that can happen at shows at any time. For Sailesh Lakhi of Sparkles and Colors USA, Inc., they take place mainly on setup day. And at this year’s AGTA GemFair Las Vegas, held within the JCK Las Vegas show, he sold some Emeralds, padparadscha Sapphires, and Rubies.

“There are some dealers in parts of the country with no access to manufacturing dealers,” he says, with his four international outposts and cutting operations in mind. “We manufacture gems in big quantities so we can pass on savings. This year, we had a dealer who ordered goods overseas and came to pick them up in Vegas.”

Sabouri, too, sold goods, including blue Sapphires, to some dealers in Las Vegas. His last buying trip was in December 2023 when he traveled to Bangkok and Sri Lanka. During this period, he filled some of his gaps but not all. Thankfully, dealer friends helped him fill in the voids, mainly for different sizes of Ruby, during both AGTA GemFair Tucson and Las Vegas.

Sourabh Lashkery of Gemorex International, Inc., filled a Ruby void of his own in Las Vegas with the help of a Gems Pavilion peer. He sourced a no-heat round Ruby in a vibrant red for a potential buyer who ultimately didn’t pull the trigger, but Lashkery still bought it for stock.

“It was such a great deal that we kept it,” he says. “After the show, I knew exactly who to send it to for inspection, and that client told me, ‘Get a report and we’ll take it.’”

Brothers Josh and David Nassi of 100% Natural, Ltd., had their own Ruby moment at the May 2024 edition of GemGèneve in Geneva, Switzerland, where they exhibit. A European dealer lacked items they had, so the dealer took a box of 12 gems from them for a day. The next day, they returned them but requested six on memo after the show ended. The Nassis ended up selling the dealer two gems—one was a Ruby—by the time GemFair Las Vegas opened.

“That might not have happened if we weren’t at the show,” says Josh Nassi.

At GemFair Las Vegas, Jeremy Chalchinsky of Color Source Gems exhibited and had good sales. He also acquired a pretty green Sapphire from another dealer.

“I get a lot of calls for green Sapphires, and this stone was priced well,” he says. “No one dealer can have everything.” 

Ruby from Gemorex International, Inc.
Ruby from Gemorex International, Inc.
Ruby from 100% Natural, Ltd.
Pros & Cons

For sure, there are benefits and opportunities to engaging in at-show peer transactions. The obvious boon is moving goods quickly and to those close by if regular clients lack interest.

“You’ve got suppliers in the booth next to you or near you, so you can close sales immediately instead of waiting until you’re back in the office,” says Lashkery.

You can also find new sources. That’s what has happened for 100% Natural during its exhibitions at GemGèneve. There Nassi has crossed paths with both European dealers and fresh faces from New York City where their business is located.

“Even though many dealers are concentrated within several blocks of each other [in New York City], you can still meet someone new at a show whom you don’t know and who’s a block away from you,” he says.

And while Nassi can find European dealers in Tucson in the tents outside of AGTA GemFair, it’s easier to talk to them “when you’re in the same [exhibition] hall and can see their showcases,” he continues.

One downside to dealer-to-dealer show sales (that’s really not that bad)? When potential buyers drop by your booth and goods are in a different one. It’s a rare occurrence that’s easily rectified by simply walking over to where merchandise is and fetching it back. In Las Vegas this year, Lashkery had a fellow dealer take some Tourmaline for inspection for two days and then returned it.

“We’re following up with them,” he adds. “You just never know.”

Finally, you can also help retiring dealers by buying their inventory. This was the case in Las Vegas for some of Raja Mehta’s latest acquisitions. The owner of AG Gems & Jewelry, Inc., picked up a few stones at fair prices from someone looking to scale back.

Some dealers are reticent to discuss these dealer-to-dealer sales, but not Mehta, who doesn’t hesitate to lean on dealer friends when needs arise.

“You’re not going to have everything, and these deals cultivate good relationships,” he explains.

In some cases, if Mehta doesn’t have goods and knows who does, he’ll send clients to those other sellers. “We’re very secure in our business,” he says.

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