Sales were up 7% at the Independent Jewelers Organization’s Denver spring buying show Feb. 20-25. That’s compared with sales at the group’s ’98 meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., which had been its best spring show ever, according to IJO president and CEO Jeff Roberts.

In the last year, IJO attracted nearly 170 new members, bringing the for-profit buying group’s total membership count to 800. The group was founded 28 years ago and was purchased last year by jeweler Richard Swetz from the organization’s founder and original owner, Bill Roberts (Jeff Roberts’s father).

In the last year the group also unveiled its “Masterpiece Collection,” a 16-piece line of jewelry priced between $1,000 and $3,600 retail that is exclusive to IJO members and is designed to set IJO jewelers apart from their retail competition.

IJO’s fall buying show will be held in Cincinnati July 10-15. For information, call (800) 624-9252.—Jessica Stein Diamond


Steven Kaiser, president and part owner of Benedom Inc., distributors of Christian Dior and Delance watches, has been elected to a two-year term as chairman of the Jewelry Information Center. Kaiser, who has been a JIC board member since 1997, succeeds Gary Gordon of Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma City, Okla., who will remain on the board and executive committee.

Esther Fortunoff of Fortunoff’s in New York was elected JIC’s vice chairman/secretary. Lowell Kwiat of Kwiat Inc., New York, was re-elected as treasurer.

Newly elected to JIC’s board were Clayton Bromberg, Underwood Jewelers, Jacksonville, Fla.; Myriam Gumuchian, Gumuchian Fils Ltd., New York; Andrew Kaplan, Rocket Jewelry Box, Bronx, N.Y.; Ross Markman, Suberi Bros. Inc., New York; Carolyn Pope, Crews Jewelers, Grandview, Mo.; and Todd Wolleman, Leo Wolleman Inc., New York. The JIC board consists of 20 retailers and 20 manufacturers, all of whom serve for two years.


Theodore L. Bonsignore has been elected to a one-year term as chairman of the Jewelers Board of Trade. Roger H. Gesswein Jr., is first vice chairman; Paul W. Nordt III is second vice chairman; and Nathaniel C. Earle is president, treasurer, and secretary.

Newly elected JBT directors are Harvey W. O’Conor of Findings Inc., Keene, N.H.; Brian D. Fleming of Carla Corp., East Providence, R.I.; Anna Martin of ABN-Amro Bank, New York; and Al Gerstein of M. Fabrikant & Sons Inc., New York.

Eleven industry leaders were re-elected as directors. Peter C. Fuller of Fuller Box Co., North Attleboro, Mass., serves on the advisory board.


The Jewelry Designers Professional Network has elected its new slate of officers. Founded last year, JDPN is an organization for designers, craftspeople, and students.

Stephanie Occhipinti is president, Kathleen DiResta is vice president, Tiffany Sabo is secretary, and Lauren Bergman is treasurer.

Antonia Wechsler, the outgoing president and founder of the group, and Katrin Zimmermann will be assistants to the president. Joan Schweikert will be assistant vice president. The outgoing secretary, Andrew Nydick, will be assistant secretary. Lauren Pipkorn will be assistant secretary.


The Jewelers Education Foundation (JEF) of the American Gem Society has instituted a named fund honoring the memory of June Herman. JEF provides targeted business and management training to the jewelry industry.

Herman, who died Oct. 14, was a vice president of Jabel Inc., an Irvington, N.J., company founded by her father, Jack Abelon. She was an active AGS member.

Contributions may be sent to June Herman Named Fund, Jewelers Education Foundation, American Gem Society, 8881 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89117. Checks should be made payable to the Jewelers Education Foundation.


The West Coast Chapter of the Florida Society of Goldsmiths will conduct its 13th annual Jewelry and Metalsmithing Workshop June 26 to July 2 at Wildacres in Little Switzerland, N.C.

The workshop instructors are nationally recognized art jewelers. Scheduled sessions include “Jewelry Fold Forming,” “Jewels of the Dark Ages,” “Intarsia,” and “Lampwork Beads.” Kurt Matzdorf, an emeritus professor at the State University of New York in New Paltz, will present a slide retrospective.

Some scholarships are available. For information, contact Bob Maier, Registrar, Wildacres Committee, 4215 Orchid Dr., Hernando Beach, FL 34607; (352) 596-3062.


Adam Graham has joined the American Gem Society as director of marketing and consumer relations. Among his duties will be oversight of advertising, the Spectra, and special events such as AGS Week.

Graham, a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ school of hotel administration, has worked in the luxury and destination resort industry in British Columbia in marketing, public relations, and advertising.


A White House plan to tax trade associations has stirred vigorous protest from Jewelers of America (JA) and other industry groups. In a letter to President Bill Clinton, JA warned the tax would force trade associations to slash spending on members’ programs and benefits by up to 50%.

The president’s proposal, part of his fiscal year 2000 budget, would tax the income groups get from investments, dividends, capital gains, royalties, and rent. Currently, these revenues are tax-exempt.

Even though the tax would hit all nonprofit groups in the jewelry industry, JA would suffer most, according to the American Society of Association Executives, which is leading a national campaign against the proposal. “JA’s primary source of income for its annual operations is interest earned on its endowments,” says JA’s executive director, Matthew A. Runci. “That enables it to keep membership dues low and rebate much of those dues to state associations.” The tax would force JA to either raise dues or cut spending. According to JA president Stanley Pollack, cutting services would “hurt those needing them most”—single-store jewelers, who constitute 92% of JA’s 10,000 members.

Last February, when Clinton visited Dover, N.H., Joseph Hagen, a Dover jeweler and JA director, handed the president a letter from Runci and Pollack attacking the tax proposal. Copies of the letter were sent to every member of Congress. In addition, JA has worked with selected state associations to contact members of the House Ways & Means Committee and urge them to fight the White House plan. The measure is also opposed by other industry groups, including the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, the Jewelry Information Council, and the Jewelers’ Security Alliance.

At press time, chances appeared good that the proposal would be defeated. Congressman Phil English (R-Pa.) has circulated a letter to fellow members of the Ways & Means Committee calling the proposal a bad idea, and 28 of the 36 members said they agree. The committee released its proposed budget in April.—William George Shuster

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