William F. Roberts, founder and chairman of the Independent Jewelers Organization, marked the group’s 25th anniversary with a very big present to IJO’s members. He announced at the buying organization’s 25th anniversary seminar/buying show in July in Toronto, Canada, that he’ll give IJO’s profits to members (after operating expenses and member service costs) in the form of free transportation and lodging for every IJO show starting in 1997.

The surprise announcement had an immediate impact. IJO officials reported the best-ever average buy at the show, at least 25% more than at the February 1996 show.

Roberts said his decision followed “much soul searching” and noted it would make the organization “a true cooperative.” To benefit from the plan, a person must be an IJO member in good standing for one year and attend the shows to receive one free airplane ticket (or their car mileage paid) and four free nights of lodging for the next show. “Platinum” members (who buy $50,000 or more annually) will get two plane tickets (or mileage) and free lodging. “Diamond” members ($100,000 or more) will have all expenses paid, plus free lodging and plane fare. Roberts estimated the annual cost to IJO will be about $600,000.

Appointment: Also at the event, Jeffrey M. Roberts was introduced as the new president of IJO. He was formerly executive vice president and director of IJO’s Buying Group. Roberts, son of the founder, succeeds Jack Gredinger, who resigned the presidency shortly before the show (see “Gredinger Leaves IJO,” JCK, August 1996, p. 15).

His new duties include creating money-making programs and services for IJO members. These may include overseas gem-buying activities in Australia and the Far East. (IJO already has a successful Antwerp Diamond Broker Program). Roberts, who also owns a jewelry store in Wooster, Ohio, that acts as a prototype for IJO-recommended business practices, joined IJO in 1979. After recruiting new members and later leading a four-store group in New England, he was named director of the Buying Group in 1992, vice president in 1993 and executive vice president in 1995.

William Roberts also announced that IJO will add “a youth brigade” — of three to five members under age 40 to its board of directors. The average age of current IJO directors is 56, while half of the membership is under 45.

Officials also said the private Master IJO Jeweler computer intranet, established in April in cooperation with the Polygon computer network, now has 240 members. IJO pays to put all 750 members on the network, which gives them instant access to IJO headquarters, each other, IJO suppliers, the World Wide Net and Polygon’s industry-related services. Jacques Vorhees, president of Polygon, expects all IJO members to be on by year’s end.

Speakers & seminars: Keynote speaker Tom Tivol, president of Tivol Jewels in Kansas City, Mo., spoke on “Value Does Not Equal Price” and how the public can be taught the difference. Tivol also gave practical tips on pricing, service and marketing of fine jewelry.

Other workshops included “The Diamond Store Look” by design consultant MariAnn Coutchie; “Staying Ahead of Trends” by Lynn Ramsey, president of the Jewelry Information Center; “Selling Designer Jewelry for Greater Profit,” by designer Jose Hess; sessions on loss prevention and employee leasing; and a roster of Gemological Institute of America workshops.

Social events included a black-tie “Renaissance Evening” Silver Ball at Toronto’s Casa Loma, a 98-room castle. It was attended by about 1,000 people. A highlight of the evening was Roberts addressing his members from the balcony of the castle’s Great Hall and honoring IJO’s remaining original retail and supplier members, including John Barlow of Annadale Jewelers in Annandale, Va.; Charles and Dot Sturms of Fairfax Jewelers in Fairfax, Va.; Bob Schwanger of International Jewelry Creations in New York, N.Y.; and Sam Lato of S.L. Originals in Hollywood, Fla.

The next IJO seminar/buying show will be held at the Greenbriar Hotel Feb. 22-27 in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va.


“The Magic of Platinum” prevailed at the Platinum Guild International’s annual breakfast extravaganza, held in Las Vegas in June. More than 1,700 people watched a magic show and a choreographed duet depicting celebrations with gifts of platinum.

Retailers, consumers and singer Paula Abdul spoke via videotape about the beauty and appropriateness of platinum jewelry. And glamorous models dressed in fashions from the 1940s, 1960s and 1990s wore platinum jewelry during a runway fashion show.

Laurie Hudson, president of PGI-USA, disclosed that U.S. platinum consumption for fine jewelry has increased nearly 400% in the past five years. “Platinum’s acceptance in the marketplace has been truly magical,” she says. She cited the popularity of the precious metal among Generation Xers and among superstars such as Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn and Emma Thompson.

Hudson said PGI’s next step is to increase marketing efforts to build awareness and generate even more demand for platinum jewelry. PGI will provide sales, marketing and technical classes throughout the country and has created a Platinum Retail Starter Kit for retailers who want to “test the waters” for selling platinum in their stores.

Model sponsors for the breakfast were Abel & Zimmerman, Christian Bauer, Bagley & Hotchkiss, Bernard Grosz, Goldman/Diana, John Buechner, Kwiat, Magnum Designs by Joel Soskil, Michael B, Nova by Gruber, Rudolf Erdel, Simon Sobie, Steven Kretchmer Design and Winward Designs by Scott Kay. Multivendor model sponsors were B. Sholdt Designs, Designs International, Gumuchian Fils, Kurt Wayne, Novell…The Wedding Ring Co., Paul Klecka, Lieberfarb and Whitney Boin.

Platinum Guild International, 620 Newport Center Dr., Suite 800, Newport Beach, CA 92660; (714) 760-8279, fax (714) 760-8780.


Laurence Grunstein of Citizen Watch Co. was elected chairman of the American Watch Association for the 1996-’97 term.

Other officers are Sidney Gluck of E. Gluck Corp., first vice president; Benjamin Kaiser of Baume & Mercier, second vice president; Efraim Grinberg of North American Watch, treasurer; and Martin Gormley of Casio, secretary.

Newly elected to three-year terms as directors were Grinberg, Grunstein, Kaiser, Henry Edleman of Patek Philippe, Roland Puton of Rolex, Lawrence Sussberg of Seiko and Paul Sutter of Ronda. Retiring Chairman Simon Critchell, president of Cartier, was instated as immediate past chairman.


The American Gem Society has scheduled its 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee Conclave for April 16-20 in Chicago, Ill. The event returns to the Palmer House Hilton, site of the very first conclave in 1937.

The week will offer a series of new educational tracks, special events and social functions. AGS, 8881 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89117; (702) 255-6500, fax (702) 255-7420.


The conversation will shimmer with diamonds, platinum and pearls at the Arizona Jewelers Association annual convention, to be held Sept. 7 at the Sierra Springs Resort in Pinetop, Ariz.

The day will consist of three lectures. Shane Decker of the Shane Decker Diamond Co., Green Mountain Falls, Colo., will speak about “How to Sell 1-Ct. Diamonds.” Laurie Hudson and Christopher Cart of the Platinum Guild International will discuss PGI and the technical aspects of working with platinum. Devin Macnow, executive director of the Cultured Pearl Information Center, will speak on the “5 C’s” of cultured pearl grading.

An awards ceremony for the AJA Design Competition will be held Sept. 8.

Arizona Jewelers Association, 323 N. Central Ave., Suite 804, Phoenix, AZ 85004; (602) 254-3328, fax (602) 820-0512.


The Alabama Jewelers Association has scheduled its 50th annual convention for April 11-13 in the Marriott Grand Hotel Resort, Point Clear, Ala. In celebration of the anniversary, AJA hopes to bring all living past presidents, board members and district vice presidents to the event.

Alabama Jewelers Association, P.O. Box 285, Lanett, AL 36863; (334) 642-4046, fax (334) 644-8003.


The California Jewelers Association added two new members to its board of directors. Richard Horne, who was elected second vice president, is the cochair of the 1996 Pacific Jewelry Show and has served as president of Shreve & Co. in San Francisco since 1993. Previously, he was vice president of store operations for Zale Corp.

Teresa Saldivar owns and operates Teresa’s Jewelers in Santa Ana, which was recently named Small Business of the Year by the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce. Saldivar, who also was named Woman of the Year in Business by the League of United Latin American Citizens, has been a member of CJA since 1985.


The National Tabletop & Giftware Association will hold its fourth executive conference Sept. 4-6 in New York, N.Y. The conference will focus on the theme “Vision 2000” and will feature an exclusive look at trends by industry experts.

Speakers include Watts Wacker, an internationally recognized futurist from SRI International; Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Consulting Group; a representative of Mademoiselle magazine; James Monro, president of HomePlace; Kenneth Kahn, president of eThink Inc.; Susan Finkelstein, vice president of Special Services at Macy’s West; and Pam Danzinger, president of Unity Marketing.

National Tabletop & Giftware Association, 355 Lexington Ave., 17 Fl., New York, NY 10017-6603; (212) 661-4261, fax (212) 370-9047.


The Chicago chapter of the Women’s Jewelers Association will “step out to stop abuse” at a benefit for the Chicago Abused Women’s Coalition Sept. 7. Grilling and live entertainment are planned.

WJA-Chicago, P.O. Box 11182, Chicago, IL 60611-0182; (312) 202-4552.


The Golden Circle Club of New York, an association of 115 New York jewelers, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a gala black-tie event Nov. 16 at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, N.Y. Members and guests will commemorate the founding of the club, which was established as a networking opportunity for jewelers in the vicinity of 47 St.

The Golden Circle Club, 580 Fifth Ave., Suite 517, New York, NY 10036; (212) 245-1755. Call Michael Toback at (212) 398-8300 for tickets.


Doug Todd of The Diamond Showcase in Wausau was recently named president of the Wisconsin Jewelers Association.

Serving with him are Mary Husar Martin of Husar’s Jewelers in West Bend, president-elect; Carol Frank of D.H. Frank Jewelry in Kaukauna, secretary; John Armbruster of Armbruster Jewelers in Cedarburg, first vice president; John Hayes of Goodman Jewelers in Madison, treasurer; and Kay Helker Genthe of Helker Jewelry in Platteville, immediate past president.

New board members are Brian Frisch of Tennies Jewelry in Appleton, Michael Schmal of Michael’s Jewelry in Fond du Lac and Sue Fritz of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. in Neenah.

WJA also announced the winners of its 1996 design competition: John Strobel of Studio Jewelers in Madison, best of show; Jo Stothard of Jewelers Workshop in Madison, pendants/necklaces up to $500; John J. Langenfeld of Plum Gold Ltd. in Racine, pendants/necklaces $500-$1,000; Crystal Viney of Jewelers Workshop in Madison, pendants/necklaces $1,000-$2,000; Robert L. Soukup of Gold and Silver Creations Inc. in Sturgeon Bay, rings up to $500; Lori Anne Nielsen of Bolender’s Jewelry in Rockford, Ill., rings $500-$1,000; Samara Christian of Gold and Silver Creations Inc. in Sturgeon Bay, rings $1,000-$2,000; Bill Fuhrmann of William Thomas Design in Madison, rings $2,000 and up; Melissa Grosse of Jewelers Workshop in Madison, all others up to $500; Troy Thompson of Bolender’s Jewelers in Rockford, Ill., all others $500-$1,000; and Steven K. Boyer of Boyer’s Jewelry by Design Ltd. in Madison, all others $1,000-$2,000.


Platinum Guild International USA has released Edition IV Platinum Jewelry Catalog, a 112-page reference guide featuring the work of more than 100 manufacturers and designers. The book is designed as a sales tool for retailers who want to offer a wide selection of platinum jewelry to their customers.

It is divided into four categories: Platinum Commitments (bridal and anniversary products), Platinum Classics (traditional and classic designs), Platinum Sculptures (contemporary designs) and Platinum Potpourri (new designers and best-selling designs).

Platinum Guild International USA Jewelry Inc., 620 Newport Center Dr., Suite 800, Newport Beach, CA 92660; (714) 760-8279, fax (714) 760-8780.


John Simko was elected president of The Silver Institute, the worldwide association of miners, refiners, fabricators and manufacturers of silver based in Washington, D.C.

Simko has served as president and chief executive officer of Sunshine Mining and Refining Co. in Boise, Idaho, since 1992. The company’s Sunshine Mine and Refinery Complex in northern Idaho is the largest silver producing mine in North America and has been in operation for more than 100 years. Before coming to Sunshine, Simko practiced law and served as assistant attorney general for Idaho.

Simko replaces Jaime Lomelin, president of Industrias Penoles, S.A. de C.V.