UpFront

JCK MAKES KEY MOVE INTO FOREIGN MARKETS; ALSO PLANS NEW INITIATIVE FOR HIGH-VOLUME JEWELERS

Capital Cities/ABC Inc., JCK’s parent company, has acquired International Diamond Publications Ltd. of Ramat Gan, Israel. IDP publishes five magazines in Israel, Japan and the U.S. and is about to launch a new one in Russia. The company will become part of the JCK Jewelry Group.

“The addition of IDP will give us a significant new entry to international markets,” said Charles M. Bond, JCK publisher. “IDP is well established in Israel and the Far East, and its new venture in Russia offers exciting possibilities. This is a fine publishing team; we’ll be very happy to work together.”

Bond also announced that JCK will launch a newsletter called High Volume Jeweler early in 1996. This publication will be tailored to the special needs of major retailers of jewelry and watches. Glen Beres, formerly with Fairchild Publications and National Jeweler, will be editor.

The IDP acquisition will provide JCK with a worldwide publishing network. In Israel, the company publishes Israel Diamonds and Precious Stones, primarily for the Israeli market, and Diamond World Review, designed for the international diamond community. In Japan, IDP publishes Tokyo Diamonds, which is expanding its coverage to include finished jewelry as well as diamonds. In the U.S., IDP publishes New York Diamonds and Miami Diamonds, Gemstones & Jewelry. It also publishes directories for the diamond trade in Tel Aviv and New York City.

Russian Diamonds is scheduled to publish its first edition later this december, focusing on today’s volatile and powerful diamond industry in that country.

“Our challenge now will be to mesh our various publications so that each can meet the particular needs of its own readers,” Bond said. “We expect to be able to draw on the expertise of our editors on all publications to enhance our coverage of the total diamond and precious stone business.” As an example of this cooperation, he cited the report on last month’s key meeting of top diamond executives in Beijing (see the following story) by Isaac Arikha, managing director and publisher of IDP, who attended the meeting.

The diamond trade has responded very favorably to the JCK/ IDP liaison. De Beers hosted a celebratory luncheon in London early in November, and the Israeli diamond industry hosted an event in Tel Aviv a couple of weeks later. Eli Izhakoff, president of the New York Diamond Dealers Club and of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, an active supporter of the new association, planned to host a U.S. event at the DDC.

The JCK Jewelry Group, beyond its publishing activities, also is responsible for the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas, to be held from May 31 to June 4, 1996, and has announced plans for a new show in Orlando, Fla., beginning in February 1997.

Concurrently with its launching of the High Volume Jeweler newsletter, JCK also is starting the first in a series of conferences for key management and marketing executives in charge of jewelry sales for high-volume retailers. The 1996 event &endash; known as “JCK’s New Horizons ’96 &endash; Winning Strategies for the Majors” &endash; will be held in Orlando Feb. 24 to 27. Among the speakers will be James Baker, former U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury; Faith Popcorn, author of the best-selling Popcorn Report; and Kurt Barnard, publisher of Barnard’s Retail Marketing Report.

Commenting on the outreach to such giant retailers as Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and other leading department and discount stores, Bond said: “This is too great a market to neglect. Through our Las Vegas show and our own research, we realize these major retailers account for about half of all jewelry and watch sales &endash; a total of around $16 billion this year. We want to serve their special information needs, but this will in no way mean any dilution of our commitment to the traditional jeweler.”

CHINESE GOVERNMENT HOSTS DIAMOND TRADE GROUP

Diamond jewelry did not feature highly in Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s Red Book, the now legendary treatise that laid the foundations of the communist revolution in China. It received no mention whatsoever.

But diamond jewelry and other conspicuous forms of luxury consumerism are no longer taboo for Mao’s successors, who for more than 15 years have been assembling what they describe as a socialist free-market economy. Indeed, a 16-member delegation of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses traveled to Beijing in early November as invited guests of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and the Chamber of Commerce for Light Industrial Products and Arts and Crafts.

The delegation included diamantaires from the United States and Israel and was led by Eli Izhakoff, president of WFDB and of the New York Diamond Dealers Club. They were the first representatives of the international diamond trade to visit the country in an official capacity. This was not, however, the diamond business’s first foray onto the Chinese mainland. A minor producer of rough diamonds, China also boasts a growing cutting industry, with 81 factories employing about 9,500 workers. They are situated in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Shandong.

Possibly of even greater significance is China’s potential as a diamond market. With a population in excess of 1 billion and a gross national product about to enter the world’s top 10, China offers a future consumer base of almost mythical proportions. De Beers predicts a total market size of $300 million to $400 million by the year 2000 and says Chinese jewelry buyers already hold about 607,000 diamond jewelry items with an average price of $427.

“The Chinese culture has a tradition involving diamonds and jewelry,” said Liu Pei Jin, president of the China National Arts and Crafts Import and Export Corp., which represents the Chinese diamond-cutting sector and which received a visit by the WFDB delegation. “In this era of economic development, there will be a place for such products. But you need patience, for we need time to study and learn.”

In response, Izhakoff expressed the readiness of the WFDB membership to help. But he stressed that some effort is still required by Chinese authorities before the country can become a significant participant in an international sense. “In order to encourage the industry, the industry’s tax burden must be reduced,” he said. “If necessary, taxes should be rolled over onto the final consumer.”

Izhakoff invited representatives of the Chinese industry to attend the WFDB-sponsored World Diamond Congress, to be held in Israel in May 1996.

The WFDB representatives also were given the opportunity to state the diamond trade’s case before Chinese authorities, including Madam Chen Muhua, vice chairperson of the national People’s Congress and a former minister of foreign trade and economic cooperation, and Long Yongtu, assistant foreign trade minister.

While in the capital city of Beijing, theWFDB delegation visited a diamond factory operated by the state-owned China National Pearl, Diamond, Gem and Jewelry Import and Export Corp. The plant, which is situated in a duty-free zone, is the country’s only indigenous De Beers sightholder.

The delegation also attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing International Jewelry, Watch and Technical Equipment Fair, which was held for the second time in this once doctrinaire communist capital. &endash; Isaac Arikha

DE BEERS RAISES PRICES OF LARGER DIAMONDS

Better-than-expected demand for top-quality diamonds and decreasing supplies are the reasons behind De Beers’ 5% increase on rough diamonds over 2 carats. The price increase was to take effect at the Nov. 28 sight allocation; diamond manufacturers say it will be felt beginning in early 1996.

The increase was part of an overall price realignment that began in June with lower prices for smaller, lower-quality diamonds, says De Beers spokesman Robin Walker. “Demand for larger sizes has been strong in recent months and prices have been firming,” he says. “Thus we felt the price increase was sustainable.”

Diamond dealers had expected the official price increase for some time because of rising consumer demand and De Beers’ extremely tight supplies of 2- to 10-ct. rough. In fact, the dealers say these market conditions had already pushed up prices a comparable percentage.

Improved picture: Diamond profits have been very thin to non-existent for about three years, but they began to pick up on larger stones in recent months. Dealers say they still can make profits because they believe retailers and consumers will accept the increase.

Ronnie Vanderlinden of Diamex, New York City, says the costs will be passed on because dealers are “not willing to return to a situation where they’re not making money.”

Meanwhile, the trade hopes De Beers will free up more rough that polishes out to carat-plus stones. “That’s the key issue right now,” says Hertz Hasenfeld of Hasenfeld-Stein, New York City. “These goods are in very short supply because the CSO hasn’t been releasing them and the Russians have cut sales of them way back from 1994 levels.

“It’s been difficult to take advantage of increased demand because the goods aren’t always there. Because inventories of better goods are minuscule, I think you’ll see prices continue moving up.”

ZALE, TIFFANY, SWATCH JOIN SECOND-LARGEST U.S. MALL

“Are you ready to shop?”

That clarion call from Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993, welcomed hundreds of eager consumers to the newly renovated and expanded Plaza & Court at King of Prussia, Pa. &endash; now the second largest mall in the U.S.

The official dedication on Nov. 2 followed a three-year, $185 million redevelopment of the 33-year-old retail center near Valley Forge in suburban Philadelphia. The expansion to 2.8 million sq. ft. made room for more than 100 new retailers, most of them upscale. The complex will have 450 stores and nine anchors by the time Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom open their doors this coming spring. Among the stores already open are some two dozen regional and national jewelry and watch industry names, including Zales Jewelers, Tiffany & Co., Christian Bernard, J.E. Caldwell, Bailey Banks & Biddle, Swatch and It’s About Time.

For Tiffany, which also has a center-city Philadelphia store, the new full-service King of Prussia store is part of an expansion into suburban areas of major markets, says Beth Owen Canavan, East Coast regional vice president. This is Tiffany’s third new suburban store this year (others are outside of Chicago and New York City). Opening day featured a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for guests, with Holly Golightly lookalikes and chamber music.

The new Zales store presents a new look and merchandising approach being installed in Zales stores nationwide. (A full report on how Zale Corp. has remade itself and its plans for the future will appear in the January 1996 issue of JCK.) Sales associates heartily greeted visitors to the new store and presented women with single-stem red roses.

The new Swatch Store &endash; with mirrored ceiling and stainless steel wall panels &endash; is part of an aggressive expansion program by the popular Swiss watch brand. Olympic speed skating champion Dan Janzen took part in the opening weekend festivities. Swatch USA had just four watch stores at the start of 1995 (Boston, Los Angeles and two in New York City) but plans to have 40 more by the end of 1996, says President Martin Grossenbacher.

Nimbus, a locally-owned gallery specializing in jewelry from designers such as Conni Mainne, Sandy Baker and The Touch also opened at the mall.

The addition of so many upscale jewelers and other retailers is intended to make the retail complex “the most complete and appealing mall in America,” says Kravco Inc., owner and developer of the Plaza & Court at King of Prussia. Opening festivities included a reception hosted by Tiffany featuring composer Marvin Hamlisch and a black-tie gala that raised more than $100,000 for cancer research.

RABIN MURDER SHAKES ISRAELI DIAMOND TRADE

The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Nov. 4 deeply shook the troubled nation and its diamond trade. The country’s three diamond exchanges closed for a day following Rabin’s death and held a memorial service the following week.

When the businesses reopened, the mood was somber, even among dealers who had opposed Rabin’s peace efforts. “Everyone’s in a state of shock wondering how this could have happened,” says Moshe Schnitzer, president of the Israel Diamond Institute and an acquaintance of Rabin for more than 40 years. “Everyone has come back to their offices, but nobody’s doing very much.”

Many senior members of Israel’s diamond trade had close ties to Rabin. Yitzhak Forem, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, served under Rabin in the army and followed him into public service for a time. He also was a close friend of the Rabin family. “I traveled to Russia, China and many other places with him,” he says. “He was such a fine man.” Forem was in South Africa on business when he received news of the assassination. “I came right home for the funeral. I couldn’t stay there another minute,” he says. “After the funeral, Mrs. Rabin and I cried together &endash; how could this happen?”

Forem called Rabin a true friend to the diamond industry. “If we needed something, he tried to help us,” he says. “He couldn’t always help, but he always did his best.”

Rabin was the guest of honor at a dinner honoring Schnitzer upon his retirement as head of the diamond exchange. “He gave a beautiful speech of support for us, not as a politician but as a friend,” Schnitzer recalls.

Yigal Amir, a right wing law student, told police he shot Rabin to stop the peace process and the transfer of occupied lands to Arab neighbors. The shock and disbelief that an Israeli could murder one of his own leaders hung over Tel Aviv long after the assassination. But Israel’s diamond leaders say they are heartened by the outpouring of support from around the world &endash; particularly old adversaries in the Arab world and business competitors from everywhere. “We had 85 world leaders come here to pay tribute to the man,” says Forem. “That says something about the man and about us and the quest for peace.”

JAN BELL LAUNCHES SUPERSTORE, OUTLETS

Jan Bell, the country’s second-largest operator of leased jewelry departments, has opened the first of a chain of fine jewelry superstores and a chain of outlet stores.

The Jewelry Depot, the company’s first free-standing retail store, opened in November with a 14k gold chain cutting ceremony in Framingham, Mass., a Boston suburb. Jewelry Depot Outlets opened the same month in Vero Beach, Fla., and Worcester, Mass.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. Jewelry Depot stores will take a new approach to selling fine jewelry, says Joseph Pennacchio, Jan Bell’s chief executive officer. “Jewelry stores are very traditional &endash; nothing ever seems to change in them,” he says. “We felt it was time to do something different.”

The Jewelry Depot stores, for example, display jewelry in showcases set at 45° angles, similar to cases in delicatessens and candy stores. That puts the jewelry close to eye level, and prices are visible on all items.

In addition, the stores won’t have discounts, special sales or phony pricing, says Pennacchio. “While price is customers’ No. 1 priority, they want high quality at an excellent value,” he says. “That’s what we offer them.” Because Jan Bell is a manufacturer, he says, the Jewelry Depot stores will offer merchandise at 20%-40% below what competitors would charge for comparable pieces. (In addition to being a manufacturer, Jan Bell also owns Regal Diamonds International, a diamond trading operation, and Exclusive Diamonds International, a manufacturer, both in Israel, and is part of a joint venture with Big Ben Corp. to market select brand name watches.)

About 85% of Jewelry Depot’s merchandise is fine jewelry, including gold, diamond and designer jewelry and upscale watches. The rest of the inventory comprises collectibles, accessories and brand-name fragrances. While prices range up to tens of thousands of dollars, Pennacchio expects the average sale to be in the $300 to $500 range.

The stores have consultation rooms, checkout counters (so salespeople don’t have to leave the sales floor to ring up sales) and a “Jewelry Registration” security program (an identification number is laser-imprinted on the jewelry so it can be traced if it’s lost or stolen; the service is offered free whether or not the jewelry came from Jewelry Depot).

Staff members dress casually with shirts bearing the Jewelry Depot logo; men don’t wear a coat or tie. Training includes instruction on how to be friendly and courteous and how to provide the information a customer needs.

Jewelry Depots are designed to be free-standing stores, primarily in power shopping complexes. Pennacchio expects to open two or three more this spring and have at least six operating by the end of 1996.

Meanwhile, the smaller Jewelry Depot Outlets &endash; measuring 1,000 to 1,500 sq. ft. &endash; are designed for outlet malls and to sell merchandise for 50% to 70% less than competitors. Pennacchio aims to have five to 10 operating within a year.

Jan Bell, based in Sunrise, Fla., operates 435 leased retail outlets. In fiscal 1994, it reported $100 million in sales.

AT STERLING, BURMAN MAKES `TACTICAL’ CHANGES

Sterling Inc. entered the Christmas selling season already benefiting from recent “tactical” changes, says new President Terry Burman.

Burman joined Sterling, the second largest U.S. jewelry retailer, Sept. 13 after serving as president of Barry’s Jewelers, the third largest. He succeeded Nathan R. Light, Sterling’s long-time president who resigned in February, and Laurence Cooklin, the No. 2 official of the Signet Group of London &endash; Sterling’s parent &endash; who served as acting chief.

When Burman arrived, he found a company with a strong sales base (averaging almost $950,000 in annual sales per store) and what he calls “a very professional and experienced executive team, well-trained and enthusiastic store personnel and the best information systems [computer and satellite] I’ve seen to implement changes and monitor results.”

But Burman wanted a stronger focus on building the business and more aggressive tactics in the stores “to drive the business.” He and his executive team implemented more than 20 changes affecting merchandising, credit programs and inventory control. As of mid-November, the changes were already taking hold, he says.

While the immediate focus is on Christmas business, Burman says he and his staff also are mapping long-term strategy, unconcerned that some Signet shareholders may want to sell their U.S. holdings (see following story). He says no one has contacted Sterling about a possible acquisition. “And our vendor relations are strong,” he adds. “We are getting all the merchandise we need, without any restrictions … Morale is very strong; people are very enthusiastic, especially as they see the changes take effect.”

Signet is giving Sterling and Burman a pretty free hand in managing the business, other than periodic review of finances, he says. “They’re very supportive of our efforts and feel a U.S. business should be run by U.S. operators.”

For the longer term, Burman says the strategy includes “enhancing” the national image of the company’s Kay stores, adding more Jared superstores (there are three now, “all profitable,” in the upper Midwest) and adding more Galleria mall stores.

REBEL SHAREHOLDERS DEMAND CHANGE AT SIGNET

Sterling Inc. might go on the sales block if rebel shareholders of the parent company get their way. At press time, though, it seemed unlikely.

In documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, unhappy preference shareholders of Signet Group of London say they want to:

· Replace Chairman James McAdam or at least reassign some of his duties.

· Replace most or all of Signet’s board of directors.

· Restructure Signet.(They hadn’t agreed to any specific plan at press time.

· Hire a financial adviser to find out who might be interested in acquiring Signet’s U.S. assets.

The shareholders, who are owed more than $100 million in unpaid dividends, are represented by the British firms Parcon Managers, UK Active Value Fund, Everest Capital (a fund manager) and CSFB (an investment bank) and by U.S. investment firm MD Sass.

Early this year, the dissident shareholders tried to break up and sell Signet’s British and U.S. holdings. But they were defeated at a special meeting of shareholders in May. Since then they have steadily increased the amount of Signet stock they own to more than 22%. But at press time they had made no formal requests for another special meeting.

A board takeover would require the support of at least half of the stockholders. No such proposal was put forward at the annual meeting of shareholders in September. However, spokesmen for the dissident shareholders say they now have the power to block any changes in Signet’s equity structure if they choose to do so.

At the meeting in September, McAdam said the company was considering financial reconstruction. But rather than offer a specific plan, he said he would “take soundings to see how the interests of various parties can be reconciled.” Meanwhile, top Signet officials continue to talk with banks, investors and key shareholders on how the company might be restructured.

CORRECTION

The 1996 Guide to Jewelry Trade Fairs Around the World advertorial in JCK’s November issue listed incorrect dates for the summer edition of the Philadelphia Buyers Market of American Crafts. The dates are July 26-28, not Aug. 4-7, as listed on page 89.

NEW YORK AUCTIONS NEAR RECORD TOTALS

The fall auction season in New York City peaked in October with the largest sales in years, bringing in more than $80 million over four days.

Sotheby’s auction totaled $42 million, its second highest total ever in New York City. Christie’s total of $38 million also was close to its New York record.

At Sotheby’s, the top lots were a Winston ruby and diamond necklace and matching earclips that sold for $3.3 million and a 19.45-ct. grayish blue diamond that sold for the same amount. The blue diamond sold for six times its presale estimate because it was large enough to be recut to improve its color, said John Block, jewelry director. Sam Abraham of American Siba, who bought the diamond, didn’t comment.

Signed pieces by Cartier, Tiffany and David Webb were very popular, consistently topping their presale estimates. Many of these went to private buyers.

Sotheby’s also conducted a special sale from an unnamed private collection. It raised $9.2 million, ranking second behind the 1989 Jewels of Countess du Boisrouvray as the most money raised from single-owner collections. At this sale, London jeweler Laurence Graff paid $3.52 million for a 6.7-ct. deep blue diamond that he named the “Magnificent Graff Blue Heart.” Block said the per-carat price of $525,746 was the second highest ever paid for a blue diamond at auction.

At Christie’s, private buyers vied with dealers for the top lots. Highlights included a necklace with one 20.16-ct. and two 10.05-ct. pear-shaped diamonds that sold for $1.53 million and a Kashmir sapphire and diamond necklace that sold for nearly $1.19 million.

The market: Middle Eastern buyers were active in both sales, but this was the first time in several years that Saudi Arabian dealer Sheikh Ahmed Fitaihi did not take a large percentage of the top pieces. Just before the auctions, he had complained to an Asian magazine that “too many large stones had come onto the market recently” and that he would reduce his buying as a result.

Executives of Christie’s and Sotheby’s said they were delighted with the results of their auctions. But many dealers said the 1,400 lots in the main auctions and special collections were too many &endash; particularly with two large auctions in Geneva scheduled in November. They said the market is basically sound, but not quite deep enough worldwide to absorb all of these pieces, particularly those topping $500,000.

Christie’s sold 84% of its 678 lots at the NewYork auction, including a collection sold to benefit the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. But because a number of top lots failed to meet reserves, including a 5-ct. blue diamond estimated at $1.6 million to $1.8 million, the dollar take was 74% of the total amount a full auction would have realized.

The story was much the same at Sotheby’s, where 80% of the 725 lots that sold accounted for 73% of the projected value.

BRUNEI PRINCE WANTS TO BUY ASPREY IN U.K.

Asprey, Britain’s most prestigious jewelry house, may soon become the property of one of the world’s most avid jewelry collecting families.

Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, the oil- and gas-rich nation on the north coast of the island of Borneo, has offered $384 million for the 200-year-old Asprey, nearly twice its book value. Chairman John Asprey, who currently owns 52%, said he approves of the offer. Analysts expected Asprey’s board to approve also.

Prince Jefri’s brother, the sultan of Brunei, is among the world’s foremost collectors of rare gems. The family’s support would enable Asprey to make its name better known worldwide, Asprey told the British press. Prince Jefri said he intends to spend up to $50 million toward that goal.

Asprey has been jeweler to the British royal family for more than a century. In recent years, recession and reversals of fortune among some of its top customers have stymied its expansion plans. Many of Asprey’s best customers were hit hard by financial reversals at the Lloyd’s of London insurance company that forced backers to put up fresh capital and by the Persian Gulf War, which cut into the spending habits of many of its wealthy Middle Eastern customers.

Asprey lost about $14 million in fiscal 1995, which ended in March, after profits of nearly $30 million the previous year. This fiscal year, Asprey earned $1.8 million on sales of nearly $150 million in the first six months.

CJA NAMES O’ROURKE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Pat O’Rourke, well known throughout the jewelry industry for the special events she planned for the California Jewelers Association and Pacific Jewelry Shows, has been named executive director of the association. She succeeds Hugh Caille, who resigned for personal reasons in October.

A search committee headed by CJA President-Elect Lenny Friedman identified and screened a number of candidates, only to find the right one on staff. The CJA board ratified the appointment Oct. 29; O’Rourke assumed her new duties immediately.

“We are very proud to have Pat take this position,” says CJA President John Spadea. “Pat knows just about everyone in the jewelry industry, and I know she will have the support of everyone.”

After a brief career in the travel industry, O’Rourke joined CJA in 1973 as an administrative assistant. Under the tutelage of Robert B. Westover, she became meeting and special events coordinator in 1976. She soon became known for the Saturday night events that highlighted the Pacific Jewelry Shows. She also handled all arrangements and scheduled speakers for the CJA-sponsored Western Jewelers Conferences and for PJS seminar programs.

As executive director, she will administer membership benefit programs and recruit new members. As PJS director, she will work to revitalize the annual trade show and bring back some long-time exhibitors.

“My goals are to restore the CJA and the PJS to the high level of respect they both enjoyed in past years,” she says. “I want to involve members more in CJA activities to make it an organization that provides the best member services possible. And I want to get exhibitors more involved in the PJS.”

VICENZA FAIR OFFERS SPECIAL TOUR PACKAGE

Vicenzaoro 1, the first large-scale international jewelry exhibition of the year, will be held Jan. 14-21, 1996. To help U.S. attendees, the Vicenza Trade Fair Board and the Italian Jewelry Guild, in collaboration with Central Holiday Tours Inc., have organized an all-inclusive, six-day, six-night (Jan. 13-19) business package as well as a land-only, three-day, three-night (Jan. 19-22) land package.

Double-occupancy costs from New York are $1,289 for the all-inclusive tour and $398 for the land-only package. Additional airport departures and days/nights are available. To receive buyer pre-registration badges, fax a list of names on company letterhead to Vicenza Trade Fair Board/Italian Jewelry Guild, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 518, Beverly Hills, Cal. 90211; (800) 443-1479, fax (213) 653-1768. For reservations only, contact Central Holiday Tours, (800) 248-9378; ask for Vicenza.

BASEL FAIR APPROVES $250 MILLION MAKEOVER

Directors of the Basel Fair in Switzerland have approved a $250 modernization of facilities. Plans call for a new convention center, a 22-story building for fair offices and a new hotel, as well as remodeling the plaza around which the fair buildings are grouped.

The Basel city government has promised to contribute between $45 million and $80 million toward the modernization project.

Construction is expected to start after the 1998 fair and be completed by 2000. The first part will involve razing Building One, which houses the fair’s watch segment, except for the front facing the plaza and a small hall. Replacing it will be a two-story, 600-ft. long building with 30,000 square yards of exhibition space. (The entire fair will have about 78,000 square yards). That’s about the same amount of space as now, says Michel Mamie, Basel Fair director. But it will be on two levels in one building rather than in many different buildings as it is now. “It also will let exhibitors build larger, higher booths than they can now,” he says.

Work will start about the same time on the “Fair Tower,” the 22-story building that officials already call the future symbol of the fair. Located close to Building One, it will house all departments of the fair; services such as a post office, bank and transport companies; a press center; and a privately operated hotel. It will be the tallest building in Basel.

The plaza will be turned into a pedestrian area; private traffic will be banned. Other plans call for construction of a truck terminal at the nearby German railroad yards and transshipment zones at the exhibition halls to improve deliveries and reduce heavy traffic and parking problems.

AJDC SEEKS DESIGN CONTEST ENTRIES

Applications are due by Jan. 5 in the fifth annual American Jewelry Design Council Talent Contest.

The winner will receive a booth in the New Designer Gallery at the JAInternational Jewelry Show in New York City in July. He or she also will receive professional support and media attention to help reach a larger market.

Applicants must be a designer/ owner of a jewelry manufacturing business, must produce in the U.S. and must never have exhibited at a JA show. Designs will be judged on originality, craftsmanship, innovation, marketability and cohesiveness. Final judging is scheduled for February; the winner and finalists will be honored during the JA show.

Contact Alan Revere, AJDC Talent Contest Chairman, 760 Market St., Suite 900, San Francisco, Cal. 94102; (415) 391-4179.