The American Gem Society’s April Conclave in New Orleans, aptly themed “Designing Your Profits,” attracted 825 retailers, up from 706 last year. It was the first time in 12 years that the annual event drew more than 800 jewelers. The Conclave supplier show, managed for the first time by the JCK Shows staff, featured 91 vendors, compared with 60 last year. Sales at the five-hour show, totaling $800,000, ran 55% ahead of last year.

News about the organization’s ’98 fiscal year, which closed Nov. 30, was positive as well. AGS not only erased the nearly half-million dollars of debt that burdened it in 1996 but also reported a $350,000 surplus for 1998. A 10% growth in membership dues was partly responsible, but the AGS lab was also important, contributing revenues of $140,000 compared with $45,000 in 1997. Moreover, the lab continues to grow: Peter Yantzer, AGS lab director, noted that first quarter ’99 revenues were already double those of last year’s first quarter. The AGS lab also announced at Conclave that it will create a cut grading system for fancy-shape diamonds (see Diamond Notes).

Commenting on the good news, AGS board member Bill Farmer Jr. of Farmer’s Jewelry in Lexington, Ky., said, “Maybe we did wander in the woods for a while, but we’re back on track now.” AGS has set an aggressive goal to expand its membership base of 1,200 retail firms by an additional 1,000 jewelers in coming years. The group also plans to expand its membership base by recruiting more jewelers in Canada and Central and South America.

In other news at the meeting:

  • The Diamond Information Center announced that its upcoming millennium TV advertising campaign for De Beers will include 15-second spots developed exclusively for AGS jewelers.

  • AGS educational courses will become available online.

  • A special advertising supplement in the Robb Report this November will provide free publicity for AGS stores.

  • Georgie Gleim, C.G., was named winner of the 1999 Robert M. Shipley Award. The award was presented by her father, Arthur Gleim (a 1980 Shipley award winner) at the Conclave’s Shipley luncheon. Georgie Gleim is principal of Gleim the Jeweler, a family-owned firm with three stores in Palo Alto and Los Altos, Calif. Gleim serves on the AGS board of directors, on the Jewelers Education Foundation (the nonprofit arm of AGS) board, and as chairwoman of international admissions for AGS.—Jessica Stein Diamond


Howard and Vicki Cunningham of Cunningham Fine Jewelry in Tulsa, Okla., recently received a “case makeover” as winners of a contest sponsored by the World Gold Council.

Visitors to the WGC booth at last year’s JCK Show in Las Vegas entered their business cards in a raffle. The prize, cosponsored by Chippenhook, was a 6 ft. gold jewelry case for the winner’s store.

Chippenhook representative Andy Macaulay visited Cunningham Fine Jewelry for a one-on-one consultation about the store’s gold displays based on results from WGC’s study, “The Retail Shopping Experience.” Chippenhook supplied the visual elements necessary to display the store’s gold jewelry most effectively.

According to Vicki Cunningham, the store saw its gold sales increase this holiday season and found it easier to sell gold jewelry when it was displayed together in one area.

WGC offers an information kit, “Gold Jewelry Futures: Success Strategies for Retailers,” as well as in-case signage; educational brochures; videos for training and point-of-sale; and a photo library for use in catalogs, direct-mail pieces, posters, or counter displays. For information, contact WGC at 444 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022; (212) 317-3800, fax (212) 688-0410.


The Gemological Institute of America recently dedicated a new classroom in New York honoring the Roisen and Ferman families. Jacques Roisen, principal of the firm that bears his name, unveiled the plaque at a reception hosted by Jim Littman, GIA’s director of development.

Roisen said at the ceremony that GIA’s focus on education and research is the reason the two families decided to make their gift. He said, “The GIA has done a super job [in these areas], and this opinion is held worldwide.”

Helene Fortunoff, chairwoman of the GIA Vision 2000 campaign, commented on the importance of philanthropy in the jewelry industry. She said, “Initially, I was hestant in asking for contributions, but it is really a necessity. The need for providing scholarships to bright young people is absolute today.” She also lauded GIA’s role in sponsoring the International Gemological Symposium this month.

Many attendees had questions about Lazare Kaplan’s new diamond treatment (see story on p. 126). Ralph Destino, chairman of Cartier USA and executive chairman of GIA’s board of governors, told the group that “GIA has assembled a blue-ribbon team to address both discovery and disclosure to the consumer of this process.”


Platinum Guild International will triple the size of its Platinum Pavilion at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas this month. The Platinum Pavilion is a special exhibit area within the show designated exclusively for platinum jewelry exhibitors. The increased space is a result of an unprecedented number of requests from platinum jewelry exhibitors, PGI reports.

The pavilion will house 96 booths, representing 60 manufacturers, according to PGI president Laurie Hudson. In 1998, the pavilion housed 21 booths, representing 19 manufacturers.

This year’s Platinum Pavilion will also include two special seating areas, complimentary drinks and snacks, and relaxing music.


Bob Slack of Gieb Refining has been elected president of the Providence Jewelers Club. Randy Sowa of Med-Co-Ed is the club’s vice president. Andy Harney of Triad Inc. is treasurer, and Jonathan Louttit of Imperial-Deltah is secretary.

Dick Daley of Jewelers Shipping Association and Peter Manickas of P-Craft were elected to serve on the board of directors.


The American Gem Trade Association has inducted new members of its board of directors. The president is Nanette Forester, Forester & Co. Simon Watt, Mayer & Watt, was newly inducted as vice president. John Buechner, John Buechner Inc., was newly inducted as secretary. Omi Nagpal, Omi Gems Inc., is the treasurer.

In addition, three directors were elected to serve three-year terms beginning this year. They are Jeff Bilgore, Oscar Heyman Inc., Richard Greenwood, A.F. Greenwood Co. Inc., and Todd Wolleman, Leo Wolleman Inc.

The newly elected members of the board join AGTA’s slate of current officers and directors.


Special Agent Richard W. Ballezza of the FBI’s New Rochelle, N.Y., office has received the first James B. White Award from the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. The award honors an individual in law enforcement and recognizes outstanding efforts on behalf of the jewelry industry. Its namesake, James White, was JSA’s president from 1964 to 1993.

Balezza played a key role in the fight against the so-called YACS burglary gang of Eastern European criminals. The gang (whose name is an acronym for Yugoslavian, Albanian, Croatian, and Serbian) committed more than 40 serious high-tech burglaries, primarily against jewelry manufacturers in New York, beginning in 1991. Many gang members have been identified and apprehended, and their burglaries have ended.

JSA also honored seven firms and individuals with Gold and Silver Shield Awards in recognition of their support to its “war on crime.” Rick Bay, JCK; Richard M. Kern, Churchill’s Jewelers; Curtis Ley, B.A. Ballou and Co.; Andrew Dumawal, Sandberg and Sikorski; and James Hennessy and Gilad Glaser, Brinks Inc., received Gold Shield Awards. Michael Kaplan, Rocket Jewelry Box, and James J. Lazarus, L&R Manufacturing Co. Inc., received Silver Shield Awards.


Dr. Jeffrey E. Post, curator of the U.S. National Gem and Mineral Collection for the Smithsonian Institution, has been named a lifetime member of the American Gem Trade Association. Post was honored at the AGTA dinner dance and awards celebration, held during the AGTA Tucson GemFair.

Post has worked for the Smithsonian Institution in the Department of Mineral Sciences for 15 years. He was lead curator of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, opened in 1997.

He received bachelor of science degrees in geology and chemistry from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate of chemistry with a specialty in goechemistry from Arizona State University. His areas of research interest include mineralogy, geochemistry, crystallography, and electron microscopy. He has published numerous scientific articles in these fields.


The National Association of Jewelry Appraisers has scheduled its annual summer educational conference for Aug. 21-25 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Topics to be addressed include “How to Identify Treated Gemstones,” “How to Color-Grade Fancy Diamonds,” and “How to Value Items Using the Cost Approach.” Hands-on workshops will be given each afternoon, and extensive handouts will be provided.

Conference space is limited to the first 60 registrants. For information, call the association’s business office at (301) 261-8270.


The Jewelers Board of Trade recently published its annual report for last year. Membership increased to more than 3,200 businesses, and credit inquiries increased almost 6%, to 190,000. Collection Department recoveries totaled more than $9.2 million, with $3.4 million recovered at no charge to JBT members. Interchange participation stands at 235 members who contribute more than 2.8 million trade references each year for inclusion in JBT credit reports, the board stated.

Highlights of the year included the release of a CD-ROM version of JBT’s “Red Book.” Sales of the CD-ROM are off to a strong start, the board reported.

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