My Top 10 Retail Jeweler Stories of 2011

There is nothing better in this job than interacting with jewelry retailers across the country.

Jewelers are incredibly hardworking, busy people, but whenever they answer the phone and spends some time talking to me or my colleagues, they are usually nothing but generous, insightful, and spirited. It’s thanks to their contributions that our website and magazine have been the best in the business for the past 142 years (slightly fewer years in regards to the website).

To put 2011 in perspective, I compiled a list of 10 jewelry retail stories that generated the most traffic, stuck out the most in my mind, and were the most useful to our readers in helping them run a successful business. Feel free to let us know what your favorite jeweler-related stories were this year.  

How Warren Buffett Sells Jewelry
Famed billionaire Warren Buffett fulfilled his pledge to sell jewelry for an hour at Borsheims and by all accounts, he was a big hit.

“[Buffett] did an amazing job,” Susan Jacques, owner of Borsheims in Omaha, Neb., tells JCK senior editor Rob Bates. “There was a huge line of people. He is such an iconic figure to the shareholders. Where else can they actually say: Warren Buffett sold this to me?”

Internet Sales Tax Could Change Consumer Habits
Some 49 percent of consumers would change their online spending habits if they were required to pay an online sales tax, according to the Compete Online Shopper Intelligence Survey.

“If a little bit is collected at the time of a sale then this ends up making a large income for the state, thereby offsetting any taxes that I have to pay annually,” said commenter Finchster789. “The goal is to make an even playing field for those of us with a brick and mortar store and to lessen our state and local income-property taxes.”

Oregon Jeweler Prevents Credit Card Scam
An Ashland, Ore., jeweler saved his jewelry store from a fraudulent transaction after receiving a suspicious phone call June 14. 

“We are an online retailer. That’s like hanging as sign saying ‘scam us, please,’ said commenter Linda. “We no longer ship to an address different from the billing address. We have been scammed and the scammers keep using different names but the same delivery address. No one cares. Even the police are too busy to care. Luckily, the purchases have been small.”

Jewelers Sticking With Pandora
Though Pandora announced on Aug. 2 that its signature charms had experienced sales drops, many jewelers are telling JCK there remains strong demand for the product.

“There are always going to be trends in jewelry, it takes branding and innovation to make a company stand the test of time,” said commenter HA_Jewelry. “If you only have one featured item and you never improve upon it, you won’t last.”

Maine Jeweler Sells Watch Owned by Elvis
Elvis Week 2011 started out with a bang for one Maine jeweler.

“I’ll have to find something from the Beatles [next year],” says Kathy Byrnes, owner of Windham Jewelers in Windham, Maine. “But nobody beats Elvis.”

Hurricane Irene Affects East Coast Jewelers
Hurricane Irene blew through the East Coast in August, disrupting local businesses from North Carolina to upper New England.

“Visitors are returning to the area, but are upset because most of the businesses are still closed,” Gail E. Kowalski, owner and designer of Jewelry by Gail in Nags Head, N.C, tells JCK. “It’s frustrating not being able to provide them with the services that they’re used to right away.

CB Stark Jewelers Celebrates 45 Years on Martha’s Vineyard
It all started with a notice pinned to a bulletin board. It was 1966 and 19-year-old Cheryl Stark was finishing up her second year studying jewelry and silversmithing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

“I bought a diamond stud from CB in the late ’80s and to this day it remains one of my most sentimental possessions,” said commenter Keegan. “I developed an allergy to metals and turned it into a pendant which my daughter now wears knowing it carries some of the happiest memories of my younger years.”

Jewelers Remember 9/11
In the week leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, jewelers shared some of their thoughts and memories with JCK.

“We made it, we got through an incredibly awful time,” says Marvin Rafeld, president of Wall Street Jewelers in New York City. “All we have to do is respect the memories of those we lost and to live our lives in the best way we can. It’s hard to do, and we still get caught up in the heat of trivial things, but sometimes someone hits us over the head and reminds us that here we are.”

The Top 10 Retail Jewelry Marketing Mistakes
Avoid these budgeting blunders and social media snafus to boost your bottom line today.

“One mistake jewelers make is they try to be all things to all people,” says Christopher Ramey, president of the Coral Gables, Fla.–based marketing firm Affluent Insights. “Any product that doesn’t fit that customer is a nuisance and it diminishes your value to your targeted customer.”

The Debate on Internet Sales Taxes
Since we ran a story about Congress introducing a National Internet Sales Tax Bill in August, the issue of Internet sales tax has generated quite a bit of feedback.

“The more you pay in tax, the less you have to spend for the things you need,” said commenter DP. “If brick and mortar stores don’t think having to collect tax that buyers can avoid on the Internet is unfair for them, maybe it’s time for them to put their products on the Internet as well.”

Paul’s Picks

I asked JCK senior editor Paul Holewa to select his most memorable retail jeweler stories in 2011. After some careful consideration and a little research, here is the list he came up with:

From JCKonline:

From JCK magazine: