10 Things Rocking the Industry

1. Stock

Soon you may be able to do more than have Pandora in stock—you could have stock in Pandora. The Danish jewelry maker is planning to go public with an initial public offering, Bloomberg and Reuters reported. The company, the biggest name in the industry “bead craze,” certainly seems to have a healthy balance sheet: For the first six months of the year, it saw a 105 percent increase in sales and a 41 percent jump in operating profit, Reuters said. Yet, as one skeptical banker told the news agency: “No one knows how long there will be demand for their big-selling charms.” A Pandora rep declined comment.

2. Crime

Jewelers’ Security Alliance is teaming up with eBay to share information about “fenced” ­jewelry on the auction site. The new collaboration will use technology, including JSA’s e-mail list and its stolenjewelry.org site, to assist the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in locating stolen jewels on the online behemoth. The idea for the partnership began a few years ago when JSA began receiving reports that pilfered pieces were turning up on eBay. “Even a tiny percentage of stolen merchandise in such a huge marketplace is something the industry needs to be vigilant about,” says John Kennedy, president of the New York City–based jewelry crime prevention group.

Radius Images/Photolibrary

3. Collaborations

File this under the heading of “unlikely bedfellows”—the ­Smithsonian and QVC. To honor the 100th anniversary of ­Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of Natural History, the cable channel is creating a jewelry line based on the Institution’s ­celebrated collection (regarded as the finest display of mineral specimens, gems, and jewelry in the world). Among the items available for purchase: a specially designed ring from Judith Ripka inspired by the Smithsonian’s Blue Heart Diamond. A Louis Comfort Tiffany amethyst necklace, the Empress Marie Louise diadem, and other never-before-seen pieces from the museum’s vault will also ­provide inspiration for the QVC ­jewels,  which are made with natural gemstones set in sterling silver and 14k gold. The starting retail price for home shoppers? Just $66.

Photo Courtesy of QVC
Judith Ripka’s sterling silver ring with a 15 ct. London blue topaz heart and 0.40 ct. t.w. diamonds sells for $582.50.

4. Watches

Swiss watchmaker Bell & Ross has gone where few others in the high-end watch business have dared to go: online. Its new e-boutique—a cyber-­collaboration with the company’s U.S. retailers—follows the December 2009 opening of a Bell & Ross e-boutique in Europe.

Vintage Original Beige chronograph with calfskin strap; $3,800; Bell & Ross, Miami, Fla.; 786-454-9730; bellross.com

5. India

That chill in the American jewelry market isn’t just the crisp fall weather—it’s the realization that India is becoming more attractive to vendors. So say the Indian manufacturers who participated in the India International Jewellery Show 2010 in Mumbai on Aug. 19–23 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, NSE Grounds. “Ten years ago, vendors only wanted to sell to the U.S.,” says Rajesh Lakhani, executive director at Kiran Gems in Mumbai. Organized by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, IIJS boasted some 800 exhibitors—14 percent more than last year. “India evolved under everyone’s radar,” says Kiran Vakharia, business development manager for Oro in Mumbai. “Even the poorest farmer who doesn’t own a pair of slippers will save all his money and buy gold with it.”

Plumage necklace with 7,980 precious stones (colorless and champagne diamonds, blue sapphires, and emeralds) in 312 grams of 18k white gold; rupees 1.5 crore ($350,000); Fine Jewellery, Mumbai; 91-22-3080-4080; fine-jewellery.com 

6. Fashion’s Night Out

The biannual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week celebrates the season’s newest clothes, but thanks to the second installment of Fashion’s Night Out, those outside of the tents—including jewelers—can also have some fun. Cocktails, limited-edition offerings, and a collaborative one-night-only spirit are highlights of the evening, when scores of retailers extend their hours so consumers in New York City (as well as other cities worldwide) can enjoy the buzz surrounding the runway shows. In honor of this year’s FNO on Sept. 10, members of the jewelry industry—like designers and retailers Yael Sonia and Ivanka Trump and Greenwich ­Jewelers’ co-owner Jennifer Gandia—all offered shopping incentives and in-store entertainment to further entice potential shoppers.

Courtesy Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry
Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester feted FNO at Ivanka Trump (wearing the Ivanka-designed Girl Up bracelet).

7. Lawsuits

Litigation over De Beers’ Everlon Diamond Knot Collection is boosting business in the world of intellectual property law. In August, De Beers sued mass-market retailer Kohl’s Corp. and three New York wholesalers for allegedly infringing on its patents when they introduced “Love Knot” and “Hercules Knot” lines. Of course, De Beers itself was sued over the line last December, after Los Angeles manufacturer Orogem claimed the Everlon design looked a little too much like its Larkhead pendant. Kohl’s and the three wholesalers—Adwar Casting Co., Dinaro Creations, and Brilliant Jewelers/MJJ—all declined comment.

The Everlon Diamond Knot bracelet

8. Gems

A 64.83 ct. faceted emerald from North Carolina made its debut and set a record as the largest ever found in North America. The gemstone, dubbed the Carolina Emperor, was cut from a 310 ct. piece of rough discovered in Hiddenite, N.C., in August 2009 and has drawn comparisons to an emerald in a brooch worn by Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Terry Ledford unearthed the green beauty on farmland owned by the family of W. Renn Adams, Ledford’s partner in gems. The farm generally produces hiddenite (along with corn), a gemstone named for W.E. Hidden (same as the town), which the Jewelers Dictioary defines as a “green variety of spodumene found only in North Carolina.”

9. Ethics

French jewelry manufacturer Gay Frères became the first member of the Responsible Jewellery Council to achieve certification by meeting RJC’s ethical, human rights, social, and environmental standards. RJC chairman Matt Runci said the milestone was the result of five years of effort to establish a third-party certification system and added that certification of other members was under way. Founded in 1835, Gay Frères employs 300 people in four factories.

Gay Frères’ Endless Love white gold and diamond necklace

10. Stats

Jewelers Board of Trade president Dione Kenyon still declares herself “cautiously optimistic.… Things are continuing to look a little bit better,” she says. “The numbers aren’t wonderful, but they aren’t getting worse. We are seeing the overall contraction rate decrease. You are seeing the Northeast get a lot better. But the Southeast is still fairly close to last year in terms of bankruptcies, as is the Southwest. We are still seeing more contraction in the wholesaler/manufacturer segment versus the retail sector.” One cautionary note: “This was the worst July I’ve seen in terms of credit inquires in my nine years at JBT,” Kenyon says. “August was a little bit better.”


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