Resolutions

Charlie Brown always lines up to kick the football even though he must know he’ll be no more successful this season than last. Lucy will whip away the ball; Charlie will land on his backside.

But he can’t not do it. Some urges are irresistible. Like New Year’s resolutions. So here’s an editorial grab bag for 1995.

Resolution #1. It’s about time for jewelers who don’t like watches and for watch companies who are exasperated by jewelers who don’t like watches to cut out the war words and make common cause. Both parties are missing out on sales and profits. Because the American Watch Association is the nearest thing we have to a body that represents the entire watch industry in the U.S., we propose that AWA organize a conference where suppliers and jewelers can have that honored “frank and free discussion” of their differences with a goal of getting together instead of staying apart.

Resolution #2. Let’s mark 1995 as the year when the jewelry industry reached at least minimal agreement on appraisals. I know the issue bores a lot of people, but it won’t go away and has to be dealt with. The Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s Appraisal Committee is promoting one excellent first step. It recommends that jewelers routinely give customers a statement of value (as opposed to an appraisal) that identifies the purchase and lists the actual price paid instead of the “value.” In one sweep, this eliminates all those phony “appraisals” that state an item’s “value” at about twice the selling price, presumably to let the purchaser know what a bargain he or she got. Rumor has it the leading jewelry chains will be asked to endorse the statement-of-cost principle. It would be a fine New Year’s resolution to do so – and thus be pace-setters for many other jewelers.

Resolution #3. Put money where the mouth is when it comes to education. Many years ago, Art Gleim, the California jeweler who has done so much for this industry, suggested that jewelers put aside 4% of their total payroll cost to create an annual education fund for their employees. The Gemological Institute of America later picked up on the idea. I don’t know how many jewelers regularly set aside money for education, but for those who don’t, 1995 would be a good year to start. So would the Gleim formula. If there’s any universal message applicable to all industries and professions in the country today, it’s that education pays off. Conversely, lack of education is a fast road to a dead end.

Resolution #4. Ask no inquisitive questions about Jewelers of America’s finances in 1995! How can we go on picking on JA when it is doing such a very good job with its educational efforts through the Jewelers’ Certification Council? One caveat, however. The skills test for store managers is a great idea, but it really is too easy. Those in charge of the JCC should toughen up the test; we don’t need to have the college grade inflation virus sneaking into the jewelry business.

Resolution #5. Old territory revisited. Let the industry at least consider creating a Jewelry Industry United Fund to coordinate all charitable giving in one basket. I realize such a move could create all sorts of turf wars, but isn’t it worth trying in the spirit of charity? He may not welcome the idea, but what better person than Mort Weisenfeld to do some research and report back. The worst that can happen is that all the individual good causes say “No way.” In that case, we’ll never mention the idea again. Promise.

Resolution #6. Let’s hear a loud vote for high industry ethics in 1995. And what better and more practical way to reach that goal than by committing your financial support to the industry’s true ethics watchdog, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. If you’re a member, resolve to pay your dues plus a bit more; if you’re not, resolve to sign up.

Resolution #7. Let everyone do everything possible to control crime and violence. Beyond obvious support for the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, this means being vigilant, being sensible and being sure you have a totally aware and informed staff. Moreover, if you’re one of those who believe in the use of firearms for protection, be very, very sure that you are qualified to use them and that you know how and when you might do so with minimum risk to your customers, your staff and yourself.