10 Things Rocking the Jewelry Industry

1. Millionaires

The ranks of the rich have returned to pre­recession levels, with the number of ­millionaires in the United States jumping to 10 million after dropping to 8.6 million in 2008, according to the World Wealth Report (published by consulting firm Capgemini in collaboration with brokerage firm Merrill Lynch). The number of the world’s high-net-worth individuals—defined as those with assets of at least $1 million—increased 17.1 percent, and their wealth increased 18.9 percent to $39 trillion.


2. Technology

Tiffany & Co. launched
its first iPhone application in mid-June. The Engagement Ring Finder
allows users to browse its collection of diamond rings by shape,
setting, metal, or design—and even includes a ring sizer (really just
circles on the screen, but still!). The images are life-size and can be
seen with diamonds in six carat weights. Users can zoom in, pair a ring
with a wedding band, and save or share favorites via e-mail, Facebook,
and Twitter.


3. Product

Christmas could be quite good if the
Diamond ­Trading Company has anything to say about it. The newly
unveiled Everlon Couture collection gives consumers a chance to dress
like the stars, but at a scaled-down price. Ready-to-wear versions of
red carpet pieces—like the custom cuff worn by Queen Latifah at the
White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner—start at $2,000 retail.
The move isn’t so much about price as it is about “design
invigoration,” explains Jamie Cadwell, director of the Diamond
Information Center, the U.S. public relations arm of the DTC. “We just
want there to be a great variety for consumers.” Indeed, particularly
as the fourth quarter approaches. So, here’s hoping dressing the celebs
really does translate into sales at the counter.


4. Retail

In June, National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew
Shay ­reiterated his group’s January forecast that U.S. retail sales
would rise 2.5 percent this year, despite high ­unemployment and
ongoing economic concerns. Shay made his comments at the ­Reuters
Consumer and Retail ­Summit in New York City.


5. Diamonds

 “In Angola, the ‘Blood Diamond’ Resurfaces” was the headline of a front-page story in the June 19 Wall Street Journal.
Michael Allen’s article detailed human rights abuses allegedly
committed by soldiers and security personnel against artisanal diamond
­miners in Angola, a country where, he writes, “the Kimberley Process
appears to have little appetite for human-rights issues.” The upshot:
“Jewelers are starting to worry that the bad publicity could spook
consumers.” (Further proof it’s a topic that will not die down: CNBC
and The New York Times also ­covered blood diamonds in June.)


6. Design

It may have been slammed by critics, but Sex and the City 2
has spawned some major style trends. ­Versions of two jewels worn by
Carrie Brad­shaw (Sarah Jessica Parker)—a clover necklace and a black
diamond ring—are available for fans. A limited-edition ring, designed
by Itay Malkin, retails for $10,000; and SATC costumer Patricia Field made two clovers—one for her own brand ($56–$72) and one for Payless ($14.99).

7. Economy

The advisory committee of the American
Bankers Association said on June 16 that the U.S. unemployment rate,
now at 9.5 percent, would decrease only to 8.5 percent by the end of
next year, despite a gain of 2.2 million jobs in 2010 and 2.5 million
in 2011. The new jobs would replace only about half of those lost
during the recession.

8. Industry

 International participation
at JCK Las Vegas was up 23 percent, with the largest delegations from
India, Russia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and South America.

Jacob Kepler
Indian heritage bangle in 18k gold,
sapphire, and enamel; $19,800; Glorious Jewellery; gloriousjewellery.com










9. Law

 The Connecticut and Minnesota state legislatures have joined
seven other states by approving bills that regulate the amount of
cadmium, which is harmful if swallowed, in children’s jewelry. Big
retailers are taking action: Wal-Mart pulled Miley Cyrus–branded
necklaces and beads from its shelves after a test by the Associated
Press found they contained high levels of cadmium, even though the
accessories were not intended for children. (Ironically, the AP
discovered that overseas manufacturers began using cadmium after the
government outlawed lead.) The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns
on its website that “young children should not be given cheap metal
jewelry, as swallowing, sucking on, or chewing a metal charm or
necklace could result in exposure to lead, cadmium, or other heavy
metals.” Jewelers can go to mjsa.org/public_affairs for the latest on this issue.

Richard Treptow/Photo Researchers, Inc.

10. Stats

Jewelers Board of Trade president Dione
Kenyon says data below on ­jewelry business openings and closings
“continue the ongoing trend that the rate of closing is slowing.
Bankruptcies are cut in half. But manufacturers are still in a tough
spot.” And after disappointing Mother’s Day sales, she adds, “I can’t
see the numbers getting better for a while.”