10 Things Rocking the Jewelry Industry: October 2013

1. Designers

Could Scott Kay become the next David Yurman? The bridal designer certainly raised eyebrows Aug. 15 when he announced that former ­Yurman chief operating officer David Minster had joined his company as CEO. “I was at Yurman in a very similar situation, in terms of size, scope, and infrastructure challenges,” Minster tells JCK. As for Kay himself, he will become the company chairman and focus on branding and designing. “He needs to be able to concentrate on product ­development,” says Minster. “He has a tremendous amount of work that he has not brought to market.”

2. Diamonds

Sotheby’s Oct. 7 Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong will feature not one but two spectacular diamonds: the “greatest white diamond ever sold at auction” (a 118.28 ct. oval D-flawless); and the Premier Blue, a 7.59 ct. internally flawless fancy vivid blue. How did Sotheby’s score such an embarrassment of riches? Given it was the house’s 40th anniversary in Asia, “we made a concerted effort to make this a wonderful sale,” said an exec.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s
The Premier Blue could fetch $19 million—a record per-carat sale price for any diamond.

3. Majors

Zale Corp. is back in the black. The company made $10 million in fiscal year 2012—its first profitable year since 2008. It also saw an impressive 5.6 percent jump in comps, including an 8.1 percent rise at its flagship, Zales, and 7.1 percent climb at sister chain ­Gordon’s. On a conference call, executives clearly were happy to put their years in the red behind them. CEO Theo Killion called attaining full-year profitability “an important milestone.”

Zales’ Vera Wang LOVE Collection 0.5 ct. t.w. princess frame earrings in 14k white gold; $1,499.99

4. Celebrities

Everyone loves to grill in the summer, especially famous female singers. Katy Perry popped a 0diamond-studded piece—it read ROAR, to plug her new single—on her front teeth for the 2013 VMAs. Madonna has been posting metal-mouthed pics on Instagram for weeks. (Sample snap: Madge with a toothbrush, captioned “Brushing my Grilzz Before I Booty Pop.”) And twerk star Miley Cyrus—who bared bejeweled teeth in her tongue-wagging video “We Can’t Stop”—owns three of the blinged-out oral accessories. The Queen of Pop has pledged her allegiance to the gems—“Grilzz Are here. to. Stay! So There!” she told fans—but we’re not quite convinced. Summer’s over. Isn’t it time to put away the grills?

WireImage/Getty Images
Katy Perry grillin’ out at the VMAs

5. Shows

 The plan was ambitious, to say the least: Fly a sizable contingent of American retailers—representing stores such as Louis Anthony, C.D. Peacock, Marissa Collections, and Neiman Marcus—to Venice for three days in early September; put them up at the majestic Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, a former flour mill on the island of Giudecca (a 10-minute boat ride from St. Mark’s Square); ply them with chianti and pasta—and expect them to keep their attention on designer jewelry. But judging by the buzzy ambience at the sixth annual About J show—an intimate, upscale buying fair promoted by the organizers of VicenzaOro—the plan worked. “It was an expensive morning,” Mark Moeller, owner of R.F. Moeller in St. Paul, Minn., said to his wife, Carol, as they retired to their room on the show’s opening day. “We haven’t confirmed our orders yet—but we will.”

Macramé cameo earrings in white gold with 0.62 ct. t.w. rubies; €3,500 ($4,650); Borriello 75, Torre del Greco, Italy; 39-081-849-7758; borriello75.com


6. Embargoes

If you were hoping warming relations between the United States and the government of Myanmar would mean the return of Burmese rubies to U.S. jewelry stores, think again. On Aug. 7, President Obama issued an executive order extending for another year the current ban on rubies and jade from the former Burma (the embargo was enacted in 2008). A statement from the White House said that while the situation in the country has improved, the administration still was concerned about the mining sector, which it says contributes to human rights abuses.

Burmese jade and rubies: still banned

7. Charms

Pandora’s concept stores are multiplying—and getting bigger. The Danish charm manufacturer opened what it calls its largest concept store ever on Oxford Street in London on Aug. 30. The two-level shop takes up 200 square meters (650 square feet) of retail space, with its first floor devoted to a “sculptural meeting bar.”


 8. Majors

Every kickoff now begins with Kay at the Pro Football Hall of Fame: The popular ­jeweler recently redesigned the official rings for the NFL’s Hall of Fame inductees. During the upcoming season, each honoree—wide receiver Cris Carter, offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden, defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Curley Culp, linebacker Dave ­Robinson, and head coach Bill Parcells—will receive a personalized ring with his name, likeness, position, and induction year engraved in gold. “We wanted the ring design to reflect each enshrinee’s unique career,” said Kay senior VP of marketing George Murray. And, apparently, to reflect a lot of light. Quipped a CBS Sports writer: “Apparently someone raided Titanic and found Rose’s lost ‘Heart of the Ocean’ diamond and made a ring out of it.”


 9. Lawsuits

Here’s a story about a jeweler accused of doing wrong while trying to make things right. According to a suit filed in Illinois’ Cook County Circuit Court in 2012, Michael Ian Caprarola paid $2,343.90 for a 1 ct. t.w. engagement ring set from Helzberg Diamonds. About a year later, he received a letter from the company saying that the total weight of the set was really 0.75 ct. and he was entitled to either a refund or a $300 gift card. But Caprarola didn’t like either option and has now gone to court to get the 1 ct. t.w. set for which he paid. His suit, which seeks class action status, charges Helzberg with breach of contract and violation of Illinois consumer fraud law. The Berkshire Hathaway–owned chain declined comment.

Derek Latta/Getty Images

10. Stats

Consumer confidence rose slightly in August, according to The Conference Board, but it is still a little down from June’s number, which was the highest consumer confidence reading since January 2008. In a statement, director of economic indicators Lynn Franco called consumers “moderately more upbeat about business, job, and earning prospects.”