10 Things Rocking the Jewelry Industry: November 2013

1. Exhibitions

Between 1640 and 1666, ­someone stashed hundreds of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewels beneath a cellar floor in London’s Cheapside neighborhood, but never returned to reclaim them. Now through April 27, the Museum of London’s eagerly anticipated new exhibition, “The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels,” invites jewel lovers, historians, and curiosity-seekers to ogle the full collection for the first time since its accidental discovery in 1912. Scholars hope the 500 ­jewels, gems, and artifacts—­including ­Byzantine cameos, bejeweled bottles, even a custom fragrance created by master perfumer Roja Dove to evoke the scent of ­Jacobean London—will bring them closer to solving the mystery of the hoard’s enigmatic owner. But in the words of ­curator Hazel Forsyth, at least one fact about the exhibit remains certain: “Nothing in the world comes close.”

2. Discoveries

The Schmitt family, owners of the Booty Salvage company, spends summers diving for treasure off the Florida coast. Most days they come up empty. But Labor Day weekend, they found eight gold chains and an assortment of gold coins worth an estimated $500,000. Some of the loot, which is believed to have come from a Spanish galleon that sank in 1715, must go to the Schmitts’ partners and the state of Florida, but the family won’t sell the rest. Says Hillary Schmitt (aka “pirate wench”): “We do it for the love we have for finding part of history.”

Booty Salvage’s bounty

3. Auctions

It is being called the “most valuable diamond ever offered at auction”: The Pink Star—a 59.6 ct. fancy vivid pink oval—is the brightly colored “star” of Sotheby’s Nov. 13 Geneva auction. The auction house clearly has high hopes for the gem, which is double the size of the Graff Pink. (That 24.78 ct. fancy intense pink diamond sold in 2010 for $46.2 million—a record price for any diamond or jewel.) So…who has $60 million lying around?

Courtesy of Sotheby’s
This 59.6 ct. beauty will have you seeing Stars. 

4. Emmys

If you’re like us, you watch award shows for two reasons: the Ryan Seacrest E! red-carpet preshow and the jewelry. And at the Sept. 22 prime-time Emmy Awards, one left us far more satisfied than the other. Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss was rocking a supercool choppy bleached-blond ’do, a strapless black-and-white Andrew Gn gown…and teeny tiny Neil Lane earrings. Emilia Clarke looked breathtaking in a custom Donna Karan Atelier gown—every leaf was hand-cut and fitted for the gorgeous Game of Thrones star—but neglected to add even the smallest diamond studs once she pulled back her hair. No wonder Ryan never asks stars about their ­jewelry—who can see it?!? The Golden Globes are Jan. 12. Hollywood, use this ­precious time to raise your jewelry game.

5. Holidays

We’ve all noticed that holiday ads start earlier and earlier every year, but Kmart surprised everyone by rolling out its first holiday commercial in early ­September—when it was still technically summer. “Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you,” it warned. (How could they with four months’ advance notice?) Not everyone appreciated the reminder. “What happened to Halloween and Thanksgiving?” one ­shopper complained on Kmart’s Facebook page. “Stop with the Christmas commercials already!”


6. Crime

On Sept. 10, Stephen Turk, a jeweler in Nice, France, shot a fleeing 19-year-old thief in the back after a robbery. French officials have indicted him for voluntary homicide, and he faces life in prison. But some have rallied around the 67-year-old; a Facebook fan page defending him boasts more than 1 million likes. Jewelers’ Security Alliance president John J. Kennedy says similar cases have happened here: “In most jurisdictions, you can’t shoot a fleeing felon once the incident is over. The JSA has long advocated that jewelers not have guns in their store, because it could only lead to further tragedy.”

DNY59/Getty Images
A thief commits a crime—and a jeweler now faces punishment.

7. Celebrities

In 2011, Kim Kardashian made headlines when she flaunted the 20 ct. Lorraine Schwartz–designed ring she received from then-fiancé Kris Humphries…and when the marriage went bust 72 days after it began. It was never clear who got custody of the jewel—that is, until some eagle-eyed auction watchers noticed a certain sparkler in a Christie’s catalog that matched its exact ­specifications. The NBA star later confirmed the gem was once his, and the “impressive diamond ring” sold on Oct. 15 for $749,000—well above its $300,000–$500,000 estimate (a Kardashian premium?), but far less than its reported $2 million price tag.

Kim Kardashian’s ring earned $749,000—a portion of which will go to an unspecified charity.

8. Events

When the founders of Fashion’s Night Out decided to abandon the annual shopping event, the Women’s Jewelry Association didn’t want to let a good thing go—so the group co-opted it. On Sept. 12, hundreds of jewelry industry insiders gathered at restaurants, boutiques, and hotel rooftops around the country to celebrate the first-ever Jewelry Night Out. The cocktail-infused events—intended to drive membership and promote awareness of the 30-year-old organization—involved participants from 16 chapters, including WJA Seattle, which tweeted that there would be “an East Coast/West Coast hashtag throw down” and delivered on that promise with a sassy stream of bon mots suggesting a (very) good time was had by all.

Michael Beckerman
A scene from WJA Colorado’s Jewelry Night Out exhibition

9. Leaders

Susan Jacques, who has been interim president and CEO of the Gemological Institute of America since the June resignation of Donna Baker, now has the job permanently. Which means she will have to resign her other prestigious job, as head of Berkshire Hathaway–owned Omaha, Neb., retailer Borsheims. The release announcing her appointment included a statement from none other than Berkshire chairman Warren Buffett: “I couldn’t be happier or more proud of Susan,” he said. “I know she is accepting a role at GIA that she is passionate about and allows her to give back to the ­jewelry industry.”

Susan Jacques

10. Stats

In August, U.S. retail sales rose only 0.1 percent—a number analysts called disappointing. And that’s even less than July’s not-too-impressive 0.2 percent increase. “Slow growth continues to be the economic story five years after the financial crisis,” National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “While positive retail sales growth continues month after month, it is just not strong enough to move the needle.”



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