Letters

FAREWELL TO AN INDUSTRY GIANT

Another one-of-a-kind, another one of the giants who made the jewelry industry so great and one we love so much is leaving his jewelry connection for something else, no doubt a greater challenge in a long career of challenges. Of course, I refer to Michael D. Roman, known to everyone as Mike!

Mike Roman (who retired last month as chairman of Jewelers of America) is one of the most intelligent, hard-working men of integrity who I have ever had the great pleasure to know. He is a real gentleman, always kind and most considerate. I really became a good friend with Mike when he became sales manager of Bulova. If you walked by a group of men talking and he was one of them, he never failed to reach out, shake your hand, ask how you were doing then rejoin his group. He has always been, still is, and will continue to be a mensch.

Michael Roman and his beautiful wife, Aurie, have a wonderful family of most gifted children. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We don’t know what Mike’s next challenge will be or what he has in mind to do, but you can bet on it being successful and clean. He is that kind of man!

We join his many thousands of friends and admirers in wishing him the best of good luck and the blessings of good health and happiness as he leaves the JA for greener fields and greater heights of leadership. He deserves only the best.

Harry Levitch

Harry H. Levitch

Memphis, Tenn.

WHY DID NO ONE SPEAK UP?

I am disturbed by the silence of the American jewelry industry when the Gemological Institute of America bowed to narrow regional interests and reversed its decision to establish a laboratory in Antwerp, Belgium.

I believe this capitulation is not in the interests of the jewelry industry, and I am surprised by the lack of concern shown by the trade.

The decision to establish a laboratory in Antwerp reflected a tradition of American strength and leadership. It showed confidence in American standards. It is shameful that an institution which purports to represent the industry as a whole surrenders to the fear of competition and the short-term outlook of one region.

I, however, have no doubt that this lack of courage shown by some of our industry leaders does not reflect the strength of the American jewelry industry.

Ernest Slotar

Ernest Slotar Inc.

Diamond Importers

Chicago, Ill.

SAD STORY OF A JEWELER WITH AN INSURANCE DISPUTE

Simply said, to insure or not to insure. My prayer is that this letter does not fall on deaf ears. Let me make this clear, this is not just about me or my business, but about every jeweler, goldsmith or craftsman in our industry.

I started making jewelry in 1982 when I was 16 years old, working in a mom & pop store. I managed the store, designed, etc. With the encouragement of the owner, I opened my first store in August 1988, just myself and my jeweler. The business took off and did very well.

After 18 months, we were victims of a burglary. We didn’t have any insurance, so basically we lost it all. I begged, borrowed and stole to open that business. We almost lost our home, but through God’s grace, we paid back all stolen items, loans, etc. In June 1992, we started back in business, got some equipment and Jon guy’s Fine Jewelry was born. It’s named after my two sons, Jonathan and Guy.

We soon had a beautiful little store [and] did a very good business. I did the repairs, sales, designs, bookkeeping, cleaned the bathroom, etc. I contacted Jewelers Mutual Insurance. They were happy to start me on a crafters’ policy. In a very short time my business grew. Security entry, cameras, video, panic buttons, guns, activated alarm line and about $160,000 in inventory. Insurance went from $1,800 per year to $4,000 per year.

Now the big problem. On Jan. 21, 1995, we let a good-looking gentleman in the store. He proceeded to beat my face with his gun, tied me up, and he and his partner robbed my store. I thought he was going to blow my head off. They left me alive.

During the first few weeks, I started on the road to recovery. This meant meeting with an insurance investigator assigned by Jewelers Mutual. I believed the nightmare was over, but it had just started. They had me believe this was a small claim. I had a photo inventory, all the receipts for the items and the photos of the jewelry that had been stolen. My problem stems from not being a bookkeeper, although I believe I’ve done quite well. We also had to show all our receipts for 1994, which we did. We showed everything. Jewelers Mutual was trying to build a case against me. I now have an attorney who talks to their attorney. Why? Because I didn’t dot my i’s or cross all my t’s.

I believe there are a lot of jewelers just like me. I never met with Jewelers Mutual again; it was done over the phone and by mail. It’s a shame that insurance companies don’t give guides as to exactly what kind of systems they expect when the policy is started. I don’t think they want to. The sad thing is I love this business; I love our industry. But without the insurance, I find myself thinking this has to be the end for the small guy. I would encourage everyone just like me to contact their insurance agents and ask exactly what they want if there is a claim. Even ask what type of receipts to use.

Should the small guys put money into more protection (security) instead of insurance? Don’t let happen to you what happened to me, that you work very hard at what you love only to have it taken away a second time.

Stephen L. Foster

Jonguy’s Fine Jewelry

Hemet, Cal.

DEFINITIVE WORK

John J. Kennedy, president of the Jewelers Security Alliance, produced the definitive work on jewelry store security in the special report he wrote for your August issue. I can’t but help think that this should be required reading for every jeweler. It certainly should be required reading for all management personnel and all store managers should take the test that accompanied the report.

Indeed, the report is so useful I’d like to see Jewelers Mutual arrange to have copies go to all the company’s policyholders.

John A. Michaels

Michaels Inc.

Waterbury, Conn.