Wal-Mart starts Keepsake sales in April

Keepsake-one of the nation’s oldest and best-known jewelry brands-is going mass market. It is expanding its distribution “to reach a more diverse consumer audience through varied retail distribution,” says its parent firm, Commemorative Brands Inc. (CBI), of Austin, Texas, in a March 4 announcement. Jewelers, though, will remain a prime outlet for the jewelry.

Starting in April, Keepsake gold and diamond jewelry, including bridal, will be sold nationwide in more than 2,700 discount stores and Supercenters of Wal-Mart, the $218 billion Bentonville, Ark., retailer that is one of the country’s leading mass merchandisers. The Keepsake assortment also will be sold online at www.walmart.com. Wal-Mart is only the first what may be several national retailers of Keepsake, say CBI officials.

“We want to make it easy for consumers to find the ring of their dreams,” says Parke Davis, CBI senior vice president. “A great brand, featuring quality products, and backed by superior service through independent jewelers, has brought us this far. We’re poised now to take the next step.”

In the past five years, Keepsake has focused on diamond bridal jewelry, which it distributes nationally under the “Keepsake Signature Collection” name to authorized jewelers. Managed by Keepsake licensee Frederick Goldman Inc., of New York City, “the Independent Jeweler channel has been an integral part of maintaining the brand’s aspirational tone and commitment to quality [and] will continue to be a critical component of Keepsake’s overall distribution strategy,” says CBI’s statement.

Wal-Mart’s new 14-karat gold diamond jewelry line is made by Goldman, which manufactures and markets Keepsake diamond jewelry. The new Wal-Mart line includes bridal sets, fashion earrings and necklaces, and men’s rings. Prices range from $199 to $899. The Keepsake line will be located in every Wal-Mart fine jewelry department.

Customers will receive a certificate of authenticity with each purchase, and the Keepsake trademark will be engraved inside each ring.

“The combination of Keepsake’s high quality and Wal-Mart’s low-price philosophy is the perfect marriage. It means the customer is receiving the best value possible,” said CBI’s Davis.

“The new Keepsake line at Wal-Mart complements and adds breadth to our fine jewelry assortment,” said Chris Callahan, Wal-Mart vice president of jewelry. “When customers buy a Keepsake at Wal-Mart, they know they are getting superior value – the highest quality jewelry at the lowest possible price.”

Wal-Mart previously had a Keepsake bridal collection in the early 1990s.

Keepsake was founded in 1930 by the A.H. Pond family Syracuse, New York, and became known for its fine diamond engagement rings. It was acquired in the 1970s by ArtCarved (now part of Commemorative Brands).

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