JCK’s 150th: Tom Heyman of Oscar Heyman & Brothers on the Changing Face of Jewelry Retail

JCK magazine is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year! To commemorate that milestone, we’re talking to 150 veteran jewelry professionals in 2019 for a feature series meant to distill the voices of some of the industry’s most enduring and successful professionals.

We can’t print every interview in its entirety in the magazine—so we’ve been posting full interviews here on JCKonline.com every Thursday.

This week we hear from Tom Heyman, partner in legendary American jewelry house Oscar Heyman & Brothers. 

JCK: How long have you been in the jewelry industry, and how has it changed since you joined? 

Tom Heyman: I started work 31 years ago, although I grew up in the industry and worked school vacations during high school and college.

We have consistently worked making the highest quality gemstone-intensive jewelry, and that has not changed. Thirty years ago we were a brand known within the industry…but with limited name recognition with the jewelry-buying public. Our marketing was directed at retail stores 30 years ago. In the last 30 years there has been a shift in the jewelry industry toward branded jewelry. As we are a 106-year-old brand, our efforts have been to increase our public awareness.

Today we have very active Instagram and Facebook accounts and periodically lend to celebrities. A second major change in the last 30 years has been the reliance on memorandum by retail stores. When I started in the industry, retail stores purchased inventory and supplemented with consignment. Stores had the capital to invest in jewelry. Store owners could be very selective and differentiate themselves from their competition by owning unique pieces and aspirational jewelry. Today we find more stores are too reliant on memorandum and sometimes lose their individual identity.

What’s your experience with JCK magazine?

We have always looked toward JCK magazine as a source of current trends, current events, and insight into the jewelry industry. In the 1960s, 1970s, and into the 1980s we placed an ad on the outside back cover of the magazine either every month or every other month. This was the best way to reach the independent jeweler across America.

What has JCK magazine meant to you?

In 1912, when Oscar Heyman & Brothers was founded, it was reported in JCK, because JCK was the bible of the industry. We have moved five times in our history, each time noted with an announcement in JCK, again, because JCK was part of the foundation of the American jewelry industry.

What was your first impression of JCK magazine, and how has it changed over the years?

When the new JCK magazine would come to the office, we would pass it around the office for everyone to read. Being the youngest member of the staff, I would get it a week later. I always looked forward to learning from it.

Top: Oscar Heyman & Brothers’ famous ballerina ring (photo courtesy of Oscar Heyman & Brothers)

Catch up on all of JCK’s 150th interviews:

Duvall O’Steen, jewelry publicist, Luxury Brand Group
Pat Henneberry, founder and president of the Jewelry Coach
Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing
Hank B. Siegel, president of Hamilton Jewelers
Erica Courtney, jewelry designer
Robert Weldon, director of GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center
Stuart Robertson, vice president of Gemworld
Bill Furman, longtime JCK magazine ad sales manager
Kathryn Kimmel, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GIA
Katie Kinsella Murphy, owner of Kinney + Kinsella
Frank Dallahan, publisher, The Retailer Jeweler
Jen Cullen Williams, managing director of Luxury Brand Group
Sally Morrison, chief marketing officer of Lightbox
Susan M. Jacques, president and CEO of GIA
Marie Helene Morrow, president of Reinhold Jewelers
Jenny Luker, U.S. president of Platinum Guild International
Beth Gerstein, co-CEO of Brilliant Earth
Russell Shor, GIA senior industry analyst
Walter McTeigue, cofounder of McTeigue & McClelland
Caryl Capeci, president of Hearts On Fire
Eddie LeVian, CEO of Le Vian
Peggy Jo Donahue, freelance writer and former JCK editor-in-chief
Rebecca Moskal, jewelry marketing veteran

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JCK Magazine Editor