What a Difference a Year Makes

No one could have predicted that the second year of the new millennium would turn out the way it did.

It began with the promise that the economic engine that drove the creation of wealth during the ’90s would continue to roar—or at least run on autopilot. Optimism, however, was soon replaced with the sober reality that the country was in recession. Finally, the last quarter of 2001 saw one of the worst disasters ever on American soil, which brought business to a stunning halt just before the holiday season began.

But through it all, the jewelry industry persevered, according to the 2002 JCK Salary Survey, which tracks compensation for 2001. Salaries for the most part either stayed the same or grew when compared with data from 2000, although there were some exceptions.

Winners and losers. Among those who fared better were top persons and those in charge of handling the books. Those described in the survey as owner/president/CEO reported a median total salary of $70,000 in 2001, an increase of nearly 17%. Bookkeepers and accountants report a median total salary of $34,800, which represents a 24% increase over the previous year’s figure.

Some positions did take hits, according to the survey, showing where employers may have been looking to save money. Median total compensation for vice presidents was reported at $46,800 in 2001, a 6.4% drop from the previous year’s figure. Total compensation for assistant managers fell 11.5% to $30,075.

Despite the well-publicized shortage of watch repairers, their total compensation fell by 12.2% to $35,200. General office staff also suffered through the downturn, reporting a median total salary of $21,215 in 2001, a 15% drop. Median compensation for gemologist/sales positions fell by 3.1% to $37,440.

Managers saw their median total compensation climb slightly by 2.6% to $46,177 in 2001. Bench workers had a median total salary of $37,000, a 3.6% increase over 2000. The median salary of general sales staff at $26,000 represents a 4% growth from the previous year.

The glass ceiling. Over the years, the JCK Salary Survey has taken special interest in tracking the income of women in the industry. From the years 1995 till 2000, the survey saw the gap between the salaries of men and women gradually close. In 2001, however, women lost ground, particularly in the upper-level positions.

For example, in 2000 the gap in pay between women and men defined in the survey as owner/president/CEO was 20%. That gap increased to 25% in 2001, the survey found. This was fueled by a 7.25% increase in men’s total compensation to $74,000, while the median salary for women remained virtually unchanged at $55,385.

The gap between male and female vice presidents widened in 2001. In 2000, men’s median total salary for those positions was 10% more than their female counterparts. But in 2001, the gap widened to 48%. That’s because the median total salary for men skyrocketed by 54.5% to $85,000, while their female counterparts saw their median total salary drop by 12% to $44,000.

Both male and female managers saw increases in their total salaries, but men’s increases were greater: The gap in 2000 was 19%, and in 2001 the disparity grew to 20.8%. The median salary for men increased by 9.3% to $54,100, while women’s median salary grew by 7% to $42,825. For assistant managers, the good news is men and women have equality in total median pay at $30,000. The bad news is that both saw their salaries drop—men by 17% and women by 4.9%.

Salaries for those in the field of gemology—where women had attained equal status with men by 2000—didn’t change much in 2001. But neither did gemologists’ total salaries, with men earning $39,000 and women earning $38,220. Among general sales staff, the story is similar, with women on equal ground with men. This is because men’s median salary fell more than 11%, while women’s rose 18%. Combined salaries are roughly $26,000.

Among bench workers, the disparity in salary remained about the same at 15% (men, $38,000; women $32,000), with men earning a 5% increase in pay in 2001 and women receiving a 6.7% increase. Among office staff, the difference in pay between men and women grew: Men saw their median total salary jump 7.25% ($29,500), while women saw theirs fall 12.5% ($21,000).

Benefits: The little guys catch up. In general, more jewelers are offering more benefits than ever before. And for the first time in more than a decade, there is a slight change in the types of benefits being offered. The top six benefits provided by jewelers (merchandise discounts, paid vacations, medical insurance, paid sick leave, maternity leave, and educational support) remained unchanged in 2001. For the first time, however, the 401(k) savings plan is the seventh most popular benefit provided by jewelers, bumping life insurance to eighth place. Dental insurance, disability insurance, and pensions round out the list.

The biggest gains in benefits packages were from the smallest jewelry operations (less than $300,000 in annual revenues). This was the only group of jewelers that offered more benefits in every category surveyed by JCK. And in some instances, the increases were dramatic. For example, in 2000 only 4.8% of the smallest jewelers surveyed offered life insurance. In 2001, that number grew to 21.1%. By contrast, for stores that earned between $300,000 and $1 million, the number of jewelers offering life insurance declined. The number of small stores offering merchandise discounts grew by 8%, and the number of small stores offering 401(k) savings plans grew by more than 6%.

In fact, 2001 could be defined as the year the 401(k) savings plan became a standard benefit for the industry. A total of 40.2% of jewelers surveyed offered 401(k) plans, up from 31.6% in 2000. The number of jewelers offering 401(k) plans grew across the board in 2001, compared with the previous year. Jewelers doing less than $300,000 in sales reported a 6.3% increase; those doing between $300,000 and $699,999 in sales saw a 14.7% increase; the $700,000 to $999,999 group was up 6.2%; the $1 million to $2.5 million sector was up 6.9%; and those doing more than $2.5 million saw a 9.3% increase.

Merchandise discounts are the most common benefit offered by jewelers, with 97.7% offering them. Even the group with the lowest percentage offering that benefit—jewelers with sales of less than $300,000—saw an 8% increase over the previous year’s figure to 84.2%. And the discounts are large—nearly 75% of respondents said they offer discounts of at least 40%.

Paid vacations also remain popular among employers, with 95% of respondents saying they offer the benefit. Nearly half (48.1%) of the group offer employees six to 10 days of vacation time; another 27.4% offer 11 to 15 days; nearly 20% provide one to five days; and 4.8% of employers provide more than 15 days.

The only benefit that declined among employers was paid sick leave, which fell less than 1% overall, although the drop was most dramatic among stores that earned between $700,000 and $2.5 million. Out of the group that provides paid sick leave, the vast majority provide one to five days (70%), followed by those that offer six to 10 days (24%), and those that offer 11 to 15 days (6%).

Lack of incentives. Usually, a year-by-year comparison of salaries, benefits, and other compensation would not show drastic change. However, 2001 was exceptional, primarily because of the tragedy of Sept. 11 and its economic fallout. The jewelry industry did change drastically this past year, and the results of the survey reflect many of those changes. One area where change was evident in 2001 was in the handling of commissions and bonuses. With few exceptions, bonuses and commissions fell in 2001 when compared with the previous year, particularly among men.

For upper-level staff, median bonuses and commissions for male owners and CEOs remained unchanged, while bonuses for their female counterparts went up 25%. For vice presidents the trend was reversed: The median for men increased 35.6%, while the median for women VPs fell 26.8%. Median bonuses and commissions for managers increased for both men (71.5%) and women (80%).

Among the skilled positions, women fared better than men. For example, the median commission for male assistant managers fell 9.1% when compared with 2000 results. For women in the same position, commissions were nearly 64% higher. Bonuses and commissions for gemologists showed the greatest disparity, with women receiving a 100% increase and men seeing a 48.5% decline. For bench workers, the numbers are similar, with women receiving nearly a 100% increase while commissions for their male counterparts went up 14%.

For the remaining positions, commissions and bonuses headed south for nearly all workers. For example, the median total for commissions and bonuses fell 32% for salesmen and 25% for saleswomen. For male watch repairers, the median total for commissions and bonuses fell 57.5%; that figure dropped only 15% for women.

As expected, jewelers’ feelings about commissions and perks changed little in the past year, with 61% saying they’re good, 35% saying they’re bad, and nearly 4% saying they have good and bad points. A total of 41% of respondents provide only cash bonuses, while 59% provide cash and other incentives. The number of jewelers offering trips fell 12.6%, and merchandise, dinners, and other perks such as clothing, spa visits, and gift certificates have increased.

2001 Median Annual Compensation, Men vs. Women (All Stores)

Job Title Base Pay Total Pay Total Pay Range
All figures from JCK’s Annual Salary Survey, unless otherwise noted.
* Sample size yielded insignificant figures
Owner, Pres., CEO (men) $55,000 $74,000 $18,000 – $330,000
Owner, Pres., CEO (women) $54,885 $55,385 $18,400 – $250,020
Vice president (men) $70,000 $85,000 $16,500 – $154,520
Vice president (women) $40,000 $44,000 $12,600 – $175,000
Manager (men) $39,915 $54,100 $24,000 – $170,826
Manager (women) $34,360 $42,825 $15,760 – $131,000
Assistant manager (men) $25,497 $30,000 $18,640 – $79,809
Assistant manager (women) $25,000 $30,000 $16,120 – $101,000
Gemologist/sales (men) $35,000 $39,000 $19,600 – $60,000
Gemologist/sales (women) $33,500 $38,220 $19,560 – $83,000
Benchworker (men) $35,000 $38,000 $12,193 – $150,000
Benchworker (women) $30,000 $32,000 $11,957 – $70,000
General sales (men) $22,000 $26,506 $14,000 – $120,000
General sales (women) $22,000 $26,000 $8,894 – $120,000
Watch repair (men) $35,000 $35,200 $19,150 – $80,000
Watch repair (women) $31,495 $33,285 $26,460 – $40,108
Bookkeeper/accountant (men)*
Bookkeeper/accountant (women) $31,200 $34,800 $15,600 – $60,000
Office staff (men) $28,000 $29,500 $10,200 – $50,000
Office staff (women) $20,000 $21,000 $7,140 – $52000

2001 Median Salaries (by Region)

Job Title Base Pay Commission Total Pay Range
* Sample size yielded insignificant figures
NORTHEAST
Owner, Pres., CEO $65,000 $19,000 $18,400 – $250,000
Vice president $67,500 $20,000 $16,500 – $330,000
Manager $36,660 $10,000 $15,760 – $150,000
Assistant manager $22,000 $7,000 $23,000 – $101,000
Gemologist/sales $34,000 $2,000 $19,600 – $60,000
Benchworker $35,000 $3,000 $15,100 – $150,000
General sales $28,300 $3,000 $10,400 – $70,000
Watch repair $45,500 $1,000 $27,040 – $50,000
Bookkeeper $27,480 $5,500 $16,755 – $50,000
Office $23,200 $2,000 $11,400 – $52,000
MIDWEST
Owner, Pres., CEO $60,000 $15,000 $25,000 – $330,000
Vice president $47,850 $10,000 $12,600 – $102,900
Manager $40,000 $10,000 $24,000 – $89,523
Assistant manager $21,450 $10,000 $18,000 – $60,000
Gemologist/sales $35,950 $3,069 $21,559 – $60,000
Benchworker $35,000 $2,000 $11,957 – $85,700
General sales $24,725 $5,040 $8,894 – $75,000
Watch repair $35,000 — * $20,000 – $47,800
Bookkeeper/accountant $32,000 $1,025 $15,600 – $53,000
Office staff $27,500 $1,055 $7,140 – $44,766
WEST
Owner, Pres., CEO $60,000 $20,000 $25,000 – $320,000
Vice president $46,800 $14,758 $20,000 – $175,000
Manager $43,500 $11,443 $24,000 – $170,826
Assistant manager $25,000 $8,680 $18,720 – $79,809
Gemologist/sales $38,250 $5,000 $28,000 – $83,000
Benchworker $30,120 $6,360 $12,193 – $135,000
General sales $22,000 $5,500 $13,000 – $120,000
Watch repair $36,750 $2,400 $19,150 – $80,000
Bookkeeper/accountant $33,000 $4,098 $21,915 – $55,000
Office staff $21,000 $1,200 $19,360 – $51,750
SOUTH
Owner, Pres., CEO $50,000 $22,500 $18,000 – $300,000
Vice president $41,000 $17,500 $20,000 – $166,962
Manager $34,340 $9,213 $20,000 – $131,000
Assistant manager $25,365 $5,090 $16,120 – $70,694
Gemologist/sales $32,000 $5,000 $19,560 – $54,500
Benchworker $34,000 $2,000 $16,000 – $70,000
General sales $19,947 $2,673 $12,000 – $65,000
Watch repair $30,000 $2,000 $23,800 – $35,776
Bookkeeper/accountant $27,000 $3,000 $18,720 – $84,080
Office staff $17,230 $1,000 $9,500 – $35,000

2001 Median Salaries (by Sales Volume)

Job Title Base Pay Commission Total Pay Range
*Sample size yielded insignificant figures.
LESS THAN $300,000
Owner, Pres., CEO $40,000 — * $22,000 – $70,000
Vice president*
Manager*
Assistant manager*
Gemologist/sales*
Benchworker $24,960 $15,000 – $26,000
General sales $22,000 $1,200 $12,470 – $30,368
Watch repair*
Bookkeeper/accountant*
Office staff*
$300,000-$699,999
Owner, Pres., CEO $41,800 $8,800 $18,000 – $125,000
Vice president $26,300 $7,500 $12,600 – $110,000
Manager $24,000 $2,500 $15,760 – $85000
Assistant manager $21,450 $2,000 $18,640 – $32,000
Gemologist/sales $36,000 $3,500 $19,560 – $60,000
Benchworker $26,000 $3,000 $15,100 – $65,000
General sales $18,720 $2,000 $10,500 – $53,000
Watch repair*
Bookkeeper/accountant*
Office staff $18,820 $1,450 $11,400 – $24,700
$700,000-$999,999
Owner, Pres., CEO $50,000 $15,000 $20,800 – $109,200
Vice president $39,400 $5,647 $22,447 – $85,000
Manager $34,000 $5,000 $20,000 – $65,000
Assistant manager $18,720 $8,700 $16,120 – $52,560
Gemologist/sales $40,000 $4,520 $30,882 – $54,500
Benchworker $35,000 $2,000 $26,500 – $62,000
General sales $22,000 $3,887 $13,520 – $70,000
Watch repair*
Bookkeeper/accountant $25,500 $5,800 $16,755 – $40,800
Office staff $18,000 $1,000 $7,140 – $30,011
$1 Million-$2,499,999
Owner, Pres., CEO $57,200 $30,000 $40,000 – $250,000
Vice president $45,000 $15,000 $30,000 – $125,000
Manager $40,000 $10,000 $24,000 – $131,000
Assistant manager $27,950 $8,000 $18,000 – $65,000
Gemologist/sales $27,500 $6,500 $19,600 – $60,000
Benchworker $34,000 $2,000 $11,957 – $60,762
General Sales $21,286 $4,000 $10,400 – $67,000
Watch repair $27,520 $2,500 $23,800 – $32,000
Bookkeeper/accountant $26,000 $7,000 $20,000 – $84,080
Office staff $20,000 $2,000 $9,500 – $38,825
$2.5 Million or More
Owner, Pres., CEO $120,000 $42,500 $55,770 – $330,000
Vice president $75,000 $15,000 $20,000 – $330,000
Manager $36,475 $10,000 $29,132 – $170,826
Assistant manager $25,000 $5,090 $22,391 – $101,000
Gemologist/sales $37,950 $3,500 $21,559 – $83,000
Benchworker $35,000 $3,000 $16,300 – $150,000
General sales $22,000 $3,244 $8,894 – $120,000
Watch repair $40,000 $1,140 $19,150 – $80000
Bookkeeper/accountant $34,000 $3,000 $18,500 – $62,000
Office staff $20,800 $1,200 $11,569 – $52,000

2001 Median Total Salary (All Stores)

Job Title Total Pay
Owner, Pres., CEO $70,000
Vice president $46,800
Manager $46,177
Assistant manager $30,075
Gemologist/sales $37,440
Benchworker $37,000
General sales $26,000
Watch repair $35,200
Bookkeeper/accountant $34,800
Office staff $21,215

2001 Median Total Salary by Region and Store Sales Volume

North East Mid West West South Less than $300,000 $300,000-$699,999 $700,000-$999,999 $1 Mil.-$2,499,999 Over $2.5 Mil.
*Sample size yielded insignificant figures
Owner, Pres., CEO $85,000 $65,000 $80,000 $56,000 $40,000 $42,000 $55,000 $75,000 $128,700
Vice president $80,500 $51,700 $61,898 $60,000 —* $31,500 $43,025 $45,000 $88,620
Manager $45,000 $50,000 $60,000 $43,299 $24,000 $57,000 $51,637 $48,642
Assistant Manager $30,000 $30,000 $31,454 $29,986 $22,523 $25,307 $39,368 $30,000
Gemologist/sales $35,000 $37,000 $40,000 $34,500 $35,000 $40,000 $33,000 $41,000
Benchworker $37,009 $38,000 $38,000 $35,500 $24,960 $28,000 $36,500 $35,000 $38,000
General sales $31,000 $30,000 $26,750 $23,124 $24,600 $20,000 $24,960 $27,000 $26,272
Watch repair $46,500 $35,000 $40,000 $30,199 $27,520 $40,054
Bookkeeper/accountant $32,500 $35,000 $37,000 $30,400 $27,000 $29,000