The 677 jewelers who attended the 1996 American Gem Society conclave in Washington, D.C., were treated to a trio of eloquent speakers – Guy Kawasaki (who talked about beating the competition), Maurice Tempelsman (who spoke about new competition) and Gabi Tolkowsky (who waxed lyrical about diamonds in general and the Centenary diamond in particular).

They also enjoyed a sentimental, and slightly awestruck, salute to former Executive Director Al Woodill, who was attending his 50th consecutive conclave. And they gave a standing ovation to this year’s winner of the coveted Shipley Award – John Koivula, GIA’s distinguished gemologist and author.

The conclave included a wide range of seminars on gemological and business topics. AGS officers were particularly pleased with the response to a new home-study course for sales associates and said members placed close to 300 orders at conclave. Member response also was good for a new how-to-buy-a-diamond video.

On the social side, the well-attended Saturday night President’s Gala was held aboard a pleasure craft on the Potomac River. There also were receptions hosted by The JCK Show and by the U.S. and Canadian Guilds and a breakfast hosted by the World Gold Council.

AGS also held the now-traditional one-day buying show, which it called “very successful.” In all, 58 AGS supplier firms had exhibits; total sales for the day topped $500,000.

Guy Kawasaki, former director of software product management at Apple Computer and author of the best-selling book Selling the Dream and of Driving Your Competition Crazy, was the opening speaker. Kawasaki drew his remarks from his past jewelry industry experience working at Nova Stylings and Van Lightner and from his days at Apple.

He noted 10 ways jewelry store managers and owners could “reduce the advantage of the competition while increasing one’s own advantage.” Kawasaki stressed the first order of business is to “know yourself. If you are in the business of building great engines, for example, then all efforts at creativity and productivity should be aimed in that area.” Then he elaborated on other points, including knowing the customer and the competition.

He mapped out other somewhat unorthodox strategies, such as knowing how to “create a cause,” a situation in which manufacturers can excite people into becoming “evangelists” for their products by letting them “test drive” the product. Kawasaki said it’s always important to “listen to the weird ideas, to resist the known and to accept the unknown.

Maurice Tempelsman, best known to AGS members as chairman of Lazare Kaplan International, also sounded the competition theme in his Shipley Luncheon address. “The increasing de-linkage between the rough pricing mechanism and polished prices remains a challenge that will bring new and different competition in polished diamonds,” he said. “In all likelihood, this will change and compress distribution channels and there will be fewer players in the manufacturing area. Different relations are likely to evolve between producer, manufacturer and retailer as the fight for market share increases in intensity.”

Tempelsman stressed the global nature of today’s diamond market, noting how much the prosperity of the diamond industry is tied to the health of the world economy. He also addressed the pricing issue.

“The diamond is now a two-tier industry,” he said. “The market has adjusted better than expected in dealing with the greater price volatility in the lower qualities and smaller sizes. The better quality segment is more stable because of a more balanced supply-demand relationship. That segment of the industry is reacting to increased consumer demand for better information, more reliable standards and grading specifications that represent the interests of the consumer as well as those of the trade.”

Gabi Tolkowsky’s closing address, which followed a presentation on De Beers’ advertising plans by Jim Haag of J.Walter Thompson, was more a celebration of the beauty of the diamond than a regular talk. The core of the message concerned the cutting of the Centenary diamond, with all the planning, sweat, creativity and perseverance it demanded. De Beers entrusted the task to Tolkowsky and his team because of his great cutting skills.

The balance of the talk centered on how different diamond cuts, many of them created by Tolkowsky himself, bring out the stone’s great beauty and brilliance. (For details on De Beers’ ad plans, see “Diamond sales hit record; De Beers looks for more” on page 154 of this issue.)

Gemological education sessions: The Gemological Institute of America was strongly represented at the conclave. Tom Moses, vice president of GIA’s Gem Trade Laboratory, hosted sessions on GIA’s fancy colored diamond grading. He stressed the importance of understanding the fancy colored diamond market, saying this segment of the diamond industry offers unique growth opportunities for savvy buyers.

A presentation by colored gemstone instructor Mary Fitzgerald highlighted natural vs. synthetic identification problems. Her talk noted the rapidly growing amount of synthetic material being seen, particularly synthetic quartz (in all colors) and hydrothermal synthetic beryls. Listeners were encouraged to stop by the GIA lab room to study collections of synthetic and natural gems.

Dr. Jim Shigley, director of GIA’s research laboratory, presented a talk on synthetic diamond identification problems. The open labs also had a series of synthetic diamonds available for study.

Ken Scarratt, director of The Asian Institute of Gemmological Sciences, described some of the synthetics and treatments being seen by his lab, which is based in Bangkok, Thailand. Scarratt noted that vast quantities of materials pose identification challenges for the trade and that detecting today’s more sophisticated synthetics increasingly requires unusual and costly research and equipment. Labs such as AIGS are learning to use raman spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence and are developing unique stereoscopic X-ray photos to determine the size and location of unusual, hard-to-see inclusions. He noted, “Often one doesn’t think about synthetics if one is shopping at the source. The source is often where synthetics are more ingeniously marketed as natural.”

Diamond document debuts: AGS had its first opportunity to explain the mechanics of its new Diamond Quality Document issued by the AGSLab, which assigns grades to diamonds for color, clarity and cut. AGS representatives noted the society decided to use the name “Diamond Quality Document” rather than “certificate” to reduce the chances of a report being misrepresented as an “approved document.”

Peter Yantzer, director of the lab, offered a session on the new report, Regarding the report format, he said, “It’s done so the consumer can say: ‘Here is all I need to know about a diamond.'” He added that very detailed identification and quality information is printed on the report, albeit separately in order not to confuse the consumer. (A fold-over flap explains symbols used on the document and compares AGS grades with GIA’s.) Yantzer said the document is not stagnant, and probably will be subject to change over time as experience dictates. “But we’ve done a hell of a good job developing this,” he said.

Al Woodill, Mr. AGS: As always, Al Woodill seemed to be everywhere at once. You could spot him at an official breakfast or chatting in the hallways with acquaintances and friends. Later you’d see him moving efficiently up the escalators to the seminar classrooms. It was appropriate that AGS should have honored Al Woodill for this his 50th year of attending conclaves, a feat that has earned him the nickname “Mr. AGS.” His peers say he has never missed a conclave and that his momentum has never slowed.

AGS jeweler Bill Underwood, the main speaker at the event, underscored some of the many accomplishments during Woodill’s years as AGS executive director. A video produced by Underwood chronicled Woodill’s life through photographs (starting with his childhood and including his World War II duty with the Air Corps) and live “clips” in which Al reminisced about his relationship with AGS. Josef Derryberry of Josef Derryberry & Co., Bartlesville, Okla., read the following poem he had written:


I’ve been in this business forty-five years And in that span of time, I’ve met some folks who were truly gems, And some not worth a dime. But you always had a welcome hand, A warm and friendly smile. You always turned a willing ear And listened for a while. Thanks for being thoughtful, Al, And thanks for being kind, Thanks for doing things for folks, When there really wasn’t time. Thanks for building AGS, To what it is today, Thanks for fighting all our fights We had along the way. But more than all the other things, I’ve written up above, You have been our gallant hero In this world of push and shove. You’re precision cut to near “ideal,” and your color, D-E-F I wouldn’t say you’re flawless, friend, But a 1 in V-V-S. We could address you as “Your Highness” Or call you good old Al But to all of us who love you, You will always be…. our pal.


By Jack Heeger, contributing editor

More than 100 jewelers from throughout the Pacific Northwest met for two days of educational programs and socializing at the second annual Northwest Jewelry Industry Conference, held April 27-28 in Seattle, Wash.

A full slate of speakers and interactive sessions on a variety of subjects kept attendees busy scribbling notes and asking questions. “There was something for everyone,” said Karen Dean, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Jewelers Association, one of the sponsors. The other sponsors were the Northwest Chapter of the Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association and the Pacific Northwest Guild of the American Gem Society.

The seminar program included a presentation by Judith Conway of Judith Conway Designs, who discussed how independent jewelers can use designer jewelry to build sales. “Designer jewelry can be the future of the independent,” she said, noting that chains aren’t interested because it’s not mass-produced. She also suggested selling designer jewelry as a piece of wearable art by telling the customer about the designer. “You wouldn’t buy a painting without knowing something about the artist, would you?” she asked. “Jewelers should carry enough of a specific designer’s line to make a statement. This will also bring a commitment from the designer.”

“Identifying and Evaluating Antique Jewelry” was the topic for Anna Miller, who created the Master Valuer(tm) Program, a jewelry appraising course. The key to accurate evaluation is to “observe, remember, compare,” she said. “Read all you can, know the history of jewelry and compare the piece you are looking at with known genuine pieces.” To determine the value of an antique or estate piece, she said to ask several questions: How artistic is it? What is its condition and appropriateness? Is it wearable? Is it desirable? Does it have a famous maker’s mark? Who has owned it?

Gary Roskin of the European Gemological Laboratory presented “Diamond Clarity Grading by Using Photomaster,” which involved a limited number of participants peering through microscopes in a hands-on workshop, and “Clarity Enhancement of Diamonds,” in which he showed the entire group slides and explained the intricacies in grading the clarity of diamonds that have been laser-drilled or fracture-filled. “This has become more difficult in the last three months because lasers are better than ever; you have to be especially careful,” he said.

Diamonds also were the topic for Ron Dean of the Diamond Promotion Service, but he concentrated on the selling end. He said only 33% of all diamond sales are for Christmas, with anniversaries accounting for 27% and birthdays 11%. “This means that diamond sales can be made all year around,” he said. Dean urged jewelers to use the two-months’ salary guideline when selling diamond engagement rings because the average sale is now $1,787 for people who know about the guideline, $1,266 for those who don’t. “It works,” he said. “Use it.”

Caroline Stanley of the Platinum Guild International USA Jewelry exploded what she called the 10 myths of platinum. The myths include the idea that platinum is only for the bridal market (“It’s a good place to start”), that it’s a fad (“Are diamonds and gold fads?”), that it’s only for older people (“The largest group of platinum jewelry buyers is in the 18-36 age category”) and that not very many designs are available (“The number of designers working with platinum has increased 400% in the past few years”). Stanley added that PGI will introduce a “Platinum Starter Kit” at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.

A panel discussion on “How to Plan and Deliver Traffic-Generating Promotions” comprised tips from Karen Kesselring of Affordable Elegance in Mt. Vernon, Wash.; Skip Cundiff of Falknberg’s Jewelry in Walla Walla, Wash.; Roskin and Stanley.


The Connecticut Jewelers Association will holds its 47th annual convention at the Foxwoods Casino & Resort in Ledyard Oct. 6. Connecticut Jewelers Association, 179 Allyn St., Suite 304, Hartford, CT 06103; (860) 246-6566, fax (860) 249-3631.


The Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association has scheduled two award presentations this summer.

The first event is a reception at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., starting at 7 p.m. June 1. At the reception, IDCA will present its Retailer of the Year award to Elangy Corp., Edison, N.J. Afterward, IDCA has arranged for a private showing of MGM Grand’s “EFX” starring Michael Crawford.

The second event is a reception at the Marriott Marquis in New York, N.Y., July 21. The event will include a fashion show, musical entertainment and presentation of IADC’s Manufacturer of the Year award to Andin International, New York, N.Y.

The events are sponsored by ABN-AMRO Bank, 22 W. 48 St., New York, NY 10036; (212) 921-4488, fax (212) 768-7935.


The Independent Jewelers Organization will celebrate its silver anniversary at its summer Seminar/Buying Show, to be held July 13-18 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto on Lake Ontario.

Tom Tivol of Tivol Jewels in Kansas City, Mo., will present the keynote address, “Value Does Not Equal Price: the Public Can Be Taught the Difference.”

The education program will include “Insurance Replacement Workshop,” presented by insurance executive Howard Herzog; “Your Money,” Jack Gredinger, president and chief executive of IJO; “The ‘Look’ to Sell Diamonds,” consultant MariAnn Coutchie; “You, the Law and Your Employees,” Tom Tivol; “Master Jeweler Network,” Jacques Voorhees; “Recovering From Bad Press About Jewelry: How to Maintain a Positive Image,” Lynn Ramsey, president and chief executive officer of the Jewelry Information Center; “Open-to-Buy Workshop,” Dick Swetz; “How to Sell Designer Jewelry for Greater Profit,” Jose Hess, Richard Rothenberg and Ronna Lugosch; and “IJO Christmas Catalog Workshop,” Dick Swetz, Elva Valentine and Anthony Fratto.

Courses to be presented by the Gemological Institute of America are “Diamond Seminar,” “Pearl Grading,” “Alternative Gems: The Big 3,” “Introduction to Insurance Replacement Appraisals,” “The Internal World of Color” and “Detecting Fracture-Filled and Synthetic Diamonds.”

Also planned are team clinics, a discussion on incentives and awards, a membership meeting and two presentations for children, “Rocky Bingo” and “Fun Gemology.” The buying room will be open July 14-17.

Social activities will include a welcome cocktail reception July 13, an Antwerp reception and a theme party July 15 and the IJO Silver Anniversary Ball July 17.

Independent Jewelers Organization, Two Railroad Place, Westport, CT 06880; (800) 624-9252 or (203) 226-6941, fax (203) 454-4371.


The Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America has announced several changes in officers following the resignation of Kenneth Weiss, who had been chairman-elect.

Weiss, president of Hallmark Healy Jewelry Group in Warwick, R.I., resigned from the MJSA post to devote more time to his business. “Ken has always been a valuable asset to board deliberations,” says MJSA Chairman Alan Klitzner. “His experience and wit will be missed.”

The board subsequently asked Alan Kaufman, president of Tru-Kay in Lincoln, R.I., to step up from vice president to chairman-elect. Peter Fuller, president of Fuller Box Co. in North Attleboro, Mass., was asked to step up from secretary to vice chairman. And Babette Goodman Cohen, president of I.B. Goodman Mfg. Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio, and an MJSA board member since 1990, was named secretary.

Joseph V. Piscitelli Jr. of Piscitelli Inc. in Cranston, R.I., was elected to fill the one year remaining in Cohen’s term on the board. Piscitelli has served on a number of MJSA committees, including the Providence Show Committee, the Costume Jewelry Subcommittee and the Fashion Jewelry Advisory Group.


Howard Kilguss of Excell Mfg. Co. in Providence, R.I., is the new chairman of the Jewelers Board of Trade.

Serving with Kilguss are Theodore L. Bonsignore of Krementz & Co., Newark, N.J., first vice chairman; Roger H. Gesswein Jr. of Paul H. Gesswein & Co., Bridgeport, Conn., second vice chairman; and Nathaniel C. Earle of Rumford, R.I., president, secretary and treasurer.

The executive committee, in addition to the officers, comprises Peter C. Fuller of Fuller Box Co., North Attleboro, Mass., and Paul W. Nordt III of John C. Nordt Co., Roanoke, Va.

New board members are Michael J. Barnacle of Leach & Garner Co., North Attleboro, Mass.; Richard W. Crawford of Howard H. Sweet & Son, Attleboro, Mass.; Bartholemew J. D’Elia of B. D’Elia & Son, New York, N.Y.; Laurence R. Grunstein of Citizen Watch Co. of America, Lyndhurst, N.J.; James J. Lazarus of L&R Mfg. Co., Kearny, N.J.; Roderick H. Lichtenfels of W.R. Cobb Co., Cranston, R.I.; and Charles F. Thomae of Charles Thomae & Son, Attleboro.


The Women’s Jewelry Association will hold its annual JCK Show bash at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 2, at Drink … and Eat, Too, a new restaurant at 200 E. Harmon and Koval in Las Vegas, Nev.

The event will include dancing to a live band in the courtyard, plus food, drink and conversation in the Tribal Room. The price of the event is $70 per person.


John Simko, president and chief executive officer of Sunshine Mining and Refining Co., Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, was elected president of The Silver Institute for 1996. Simko succeeds Jaime Lomelin, president of Industrial Peership News – and Simko served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Idaho and then went into private law practice before joining Sunshine in 1984.

The Silver Institute is an international trade association of silver miners, refiners, fabricators and wholesalers of silver products. It was founded in 1971 and now has 42 members from 10 nations. Its marketing division, Silver Trust International, was established in 1988 to increase consumer purchases of silver.


The 51st Jewelers of Louisiana convention will be held June 21-23 in

the Hilton & Towers, Lafayette, La.

Seminars will include “How to Buy and Sell Pearls,” “Goldsmithing & Jewelry Techniques,” “Treasures and Trust,” “What Jewelers Need to Know About the Internet,” “Investing in Your Assets,” “How Actions Speak Louder Than Words” and “Wax Carving Techniques.” The Gemological Institute of America will present “Half Day With Diamonds” and “Introduction to Counter Sketching.”

The convention will include a tour of Stuller Settings Inc., the association’s jewelry design contest, presentation of the Jeweler of the Year and Salesperson of the Year awards and a banquet with entertainment by a Cajun humorist.

Jewelers of Louisiana 2423 Old South Plaza, Abbeville, LA 70510; (318) 893-1900, fax (318) 364-1784.


Milton C. Stevens, executive secretary of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, will be honored at a retirement party beginning at 5:30 p.m. June 28 in the Commonwealth Hilton in Florence, Ky.

Advance registration is $25, a portion of which will be donated to the AWI Scholarship Fund. Stevens announced earlier this year he would retire (see JCK, April 1996, p. 24).

Send the fee by July 15 to American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, Marshall Richmond, Treasurer, 3401 N. County Rd. 150E, Milan, IN 47031.


Members of the Jewelry Industry’s New Leadership Committee of the National Conference will board the Royal Princess June 20 for a cruise around Manhattan and dinner and dining.

The cost to participate in this eighth annual gala boatride is $50 per person. Contact Zita Dorn, The National Conference, 71 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10003; (212) 807-8440.