’Net News

?CLICK-AND-BRICK? SITE TO LAUNCH AT JCK SHOW

A Web site that lets consumers purchase fine jewelry and gifts through a ?click-and-brick? setup will debut June 2 in Las Vegas. Vivamoda.com, founded by jewelry and auction industry veterans Deborah Lira and Jason Nelson, provides access to luxury items either online through the site?s retailer, designer, or auction galleries or offline in participating stores.

Vivamoda.com will be presented in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Japanese. An ?Auction Gallery? will host high-end auctions of fine jewelry, gifts, antique furniture and objets d?art, paintings, sculpture, coins, stamps, and rare books from partners? inventories. A ?Retail Locator? will link virtual and real-world shopping, directing shoppers to the nearest retail partner that carries the items they?ve selected online. The partners say that will help eliminate retailer anger toward designers and manufacturers who sell directly to consumers over the Internet.

The site will reward loyal customers with value-added programs, exclusive services, and prizes. An online magazine will feature articles about jewelry, fashion, home entertaining, bridal, beauty, and travel.

The founders have developed partnerships with leading Web portals and women?s sites and plan an international media campaign and a co-op, in-store promotional program. Vivamoda.com?s technology partner is Acunet, based in Marlboro, Mass. Paratore Hartshorn, Boston, designed the site.

E-COMMERCE VENTURE NAMES A PRESIDENT

Sheldon Ginsberg, a former top executive of diamond supplier Lazare Kaplan International, has been named president and chief executive officer of Designer Jewelry On Line (DJOL), a new e-commerce venture promoting the fine jewelry industry on the Internet. The appointment is effective June 1. Ginsberg officially resigned from his post as executive vice president and chief financial officer of LKI at the end of May. He will continue to serve on the company?s board of directors. His successor at LKI was expected to be announced soon. In the interim, LKI executive William Ullman will be acting executive vice president.

Ginsberg says DJOL will enable retailers and manufacturers to benefit from ?technology efficiencies? for communication, inventory management, and supply processes as well as national media and promotion efforts to establish a ?megabrand? affiliation on the ?Net. DJOL also will develop a business-to-business component to ?increase business efficiency, reduce ordering time, and lower carrying costs.?

DJOL announced on April 28 that it had completed its second round of financing and had more than 60 equity partners, both retailers and manufacturers. DJOL was created late last year and capitalized by 16 firms, including retail jewelers Bachendorf?s, Diamond Cellar, Fink?s Jewelers, Greve Jewelers, Hamilton Jewelers, Hyde Park Jewelers, Lee Michaels Jewelers, London Jewelers, Lux Bond & Green, and Tivol Jewels. The founding suppliers are Honora, Lagos, Lazare Kaplan International, M. Fabrikant & Sons, Penny Preville, and Scott Kay Platinum.

Among the new equity partners are Christopher Designs, B.C. Clark Inc., Frederick Goldman Inc., John Hardy Collection, Charles Krypell Inc., Lacy & Co., Tapper?s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry Inc., Tiny Jewel Box Inc., Traditional Jewelers, and Underwood Jewelers Corp.

DJOL expects to launch online by late summer. ? William George Shuster

FLA. SCHOOL OFFERS ONLINE BENCH TIPS

Stewart?s International School for Jewelers Inc., Jupiter, Fla., presents weekly ?Bench Tips? for jewelers on its Web site, www.stewartsintlschool.com.

The tips cover jewelry repair and diamond setting. Jewelers are encouraged to participate by e-mailing suggested tips to Jewelschl@aol.com.

E-COMMERCE SITE LAUNCHED IN HOUSTON

Bodyflash.com, a new e-commerce site offering jewelry and gifts, has been launched in Houston. Founder Karen Post secured angel funding through Houston-based Enron, CyberVen Initiatives, and Zadok Jewelers of Houston.

The site offers news about fashion trends and music as well as 1,500 items for sale, expected eventually to grow to 5,000 and change weekly. Industry specialists and fashion experts will provide content.

KEEPSAKE HAS INTERNET PRESENCE

Keepsake Diamond Jewelry, New York, has launched a Web site, www.keepsake.com.

The site provides information for consumers on what to look for in a diamond ring as well as descriptions of Keepsake products. A Zip code locator enables them to find an authorized Keepsake retailer.

SAMUELS BUYS E-TAILER, ADDS TWO ONLINE STORES

Samuels Jewelers has established its presence on the Internet with the purchase of Internet jewelry retailer JewelryLine.com (www.jewelryline.com) and the launch of two online jewelry stores, www.samuelsjewelers.com and www.samuels.cc.

Samuels, based in Austin, Texas, bought the year-old JewelryLine in March in exchange for 35,000 shares of Samuels stock (valued at $300,000).

?We were approached shortly after Christmas by several dot-coms who wanted to know if we were interested in acquiring them,? says Randy McCullough, president and chief executive officer of Samuels. ?We had already done extensive research on developing our own Web site and felt that acquiring existing technology with the kinks already worked out was a much less expensive way to go.?

McCullough says the deal was good for both companies. ?It would have cost us three or four times the amount we paid to develop our own site, and then another 18 months to get it working, and they sold at it the best price they could get,? he says.

Within a month of acquiring JewelryLine, Samuels had changed its appearance and upgraded its technology. It also used the site?s infrastructure and technology as the blueprint for its two online stores, which it launched April 25.

?Our new Internet stores at SamuelsJewelers.com and Samuels.cc are the next step to becoming a nationally recognized brand,? says McCullough. (The two sites are identical but capitalize on both the familiar ?.com? and the increasingly popular ?.cc.?)

Samuels has named jewelry veteran Lee Miller as its director of e-commerce, responsible for developing and overseeing Internet strategies.

Samuels Jewelers operates 198 stores in 26 states under the names Samuels Jewelers, Samuels Diamonds, Schubach Jewelers, C&H Rauch Jewelers, and Hart?s Jewelers. ? William George Shuster

FREE SERVICE PUTS PHOTOS ONLINE

Kablink.com is a newly launched free Internet service that assists users in uploading photos to a private Web site, e-mailing ?postcards? of new designs, creating an online portfolio, and sending custom notices and brochures.

The service accepts images from digital cameras, scanners, and e-mail files. It also offers a digital camera for sale. For information, visit www.kablink.com.

NU-ERA UPGRADES ITS INTERNET SITE

The Nu-Era Group Inc., a St. Louis supplier of store equipment and fixtures, has relaunched its Web site, www.nu-era.com.

Improvements include customer resources, faster download capabilities, and newly designed shopping features. Recently introduced is an auction site enabling retailers to bid on store fixtures and supplies as well as post items for resale. Also available is Vision 360º, an extranet management tool that provides real-time information for visual merchandisers.