10 Things Rocking the Jewelry Industry: May 2013

1. Diamonds

Get out those record books. A 101.73 ct. pear-shape D-flawless will be hitting the block at Christie’s Geneva on May 15, and while its official estimate is $20 million to $30 million, many think it could go even higher—into auction history. (The gem already has set one record, being the largest D-flawless ever to be sold at auction.) But unlike past headline-making auction stones, this one doesn’t have a storied past: It was cut from a 236 ct. rough found quite recently at De Beers’ Jwaneng mine in Botswana. There is, however, one upside to bagging a big stone that’s fresh out of the ground: You not only get to own it, but you get to name it as well.

2. Records

The 637 ct., 18k rose gold Mouawad necklace

The Mouawad family has a new world record to add to their collection. (They previously had three, including one for an $11 million bra.) In March, Guinness World Records certified the Mouawad L’Incomparable Diamond Necklace—with a value of $55 million—as the most valuable necklace in the world. The piece features 229.52 cts. of white diamonds, but what got Guinness’ interest is its centerpiece: the Incomparable, the legendary 407.48 ct. internally flawless yellow stone originally found in a rubble pile by a little girl in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

3. Partnerships

Talk about strange bedfellows: Etsy is the place for unique, sometimes quirky, homemade crafts; Nordstrom is a tony department store. Yet this spring, select Etsy items will appear at the upscale retailer as part of a special Etsy & Nordstrom Present collection. So far, the collection features mostly pottery and home items. But if this works, can jewelry—Etsy’s No. 1 category—be far behind?

4. Celebrities

You didn’t think Lady Gaga was going to be shuttled around in a standard-issue hospital wheelchair, did you? Silly little monsters! That’s why in March, after surgery for an inflammatory joint infection, the outrageously stylish pop star commissioned New York City ­jeweler Mordekai by Ken Borochov to create something with a little more ­pizzazz: a 24k gold–plated chair. The designer—who’s ­outfitted Gaga in other custom pieces (a gold-laced crown, ­bracelets, armor nails, an S&M-esque cage)—put together her wheels in about a week, dubbing the finished product “the Chariot.” What, no white horses?

Borochov’s chair

5. Lawsuits

Tetra Images/Getty Images

Tiffany & Co.’s suit against Costco has taken a turn that the iconic jeweler may not have anticipated—and certainly doesn’t appreciate. On Feb. 14, the legendary retailer sued the discount giant, claiming it was selling rings falsely marked as Tiffany. One month later, Costco told the court it was simply selling Tiffany settings, and asked that the term Tiffany setting be ruled generic. In response, Tiffany argued that the setting that bears its name “is available from only one place—Tiffany. Anything else is a fake.” Some trademark lawyers have been sympathetic, but say the home of the little blue box has the most to lose. Says David Weild, partner at Edwards Wildman: “They have to ask: Is this case sufficiently important to put our trademark at risk?”

6. JCK Las Vegas

Look up Maroon 5’s touring schedule on the band’s website and you’ll notice a recurring phrase: sold out. Every show in April, from Orlando to Philadelphia to Rosemont, Ill.—sold out. June U.K. concerts in Birmingham, London, and Glasgow—sold out. So you can hightail it to Amsterdam over Fourth of July weekend—at press time, tickets were available—or you can see the Grammy-winning pop-rock quintet June 2 at JCK Rocks the Beach at ­Mandalay Bay. If you’re a JCK Las Vegas badge holder or ­Jewelers for Children Facets of Hope dinner guest, you’ve earned admission to see Adam Levine & Co. show off their “Moves Like Jagger.” Fun fact: Levine comes from a retail family. His mom, dad, and aunt own the California indie boutique chain M. Fredric.

7. Majors

After 17 months that began with great ­expectations and ended with an epic belly flop, Ron Johnson resigned as CEO of J.C. Penney on April 8. The former head of Apple’s retail chain had wanted to transform the company into a “specialty department store,” but many thought his resignation was inevitable following Penney’s dismal 2012 financial results. (JCP lost close to $1 billion, with half of that loss coming in the fourth quarter.) Johnson’s replacement: Myron E. (“Mike”) Ullman, the former Penney CEO Johnson had replaced in November 2011.

8. History

Who knew colored-stone engagement rings were trendy in the late 18th century?

Perhaps when Napoleon put his hand in his coat he was reaching for this. In March, French auction house Osenat sold the engagement ring the little Emperor purportedly gave wife Josephine in 1796. (The ring is a relatively modest piece featuring a pear-shape sapphire and diamond in a plain gold band; both stones weigh in at less than a carat each. ­Napoleon bought the ring before he was, well, Napoleon.) Its estimate was $23,000–$26,000; it fetched $1.15 million. “In my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by more than 47 times,” an auction house spokeswoman told ABC News.


9. Retail


If you’re just browsing at one Australian retailer, you may end up just paying. In March, Brisbane gluten-free grocer Celiac Supplies created an Internet furor when it posted a sign advising customers they would be charged $5 for simply walking in the door. (The fee is not charged to regular customers and is deducted from any purchase.) The retailer said the policy was instituted because “there have been a high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere.” Interviewed by a local newscast, the shop owner was unbowed, saying that people need to learn “everything in life is not for free.” But JCKonline commenters weren’t buying it. Policies like this, wrote one, “will drive even more people to the Internet.”

10. Stats

U.S. retail sales beat analyst estimates in February, with the Commerce Department finding them up a healthy 1.1 percent. This was the biggest jump in five months and represented the fourth consecutive month of gains. The National Retail Federation also found them better than expected, recording a 0.7 percent gain. “This portends a good, but not great, first quarter for ­retailers,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. ­“Consumers continue to breathe life into the economy.”