For the first time in its 22-year history, the Independent Jewelers Organization is looking east. Far east.

The Nippon Gold Chain, a Japanese buying cooperative of full-service jewelry stores, is talking with IJO about a joint venture to benefit members of both organizations.

Bill Roberts, IJO founder and chairman, made the announcement during the organization’s annual spring seminar and buying show, held Feb. 18-23 in the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Cal. Some 1,250 people representing 395 stores (about 45% of IJO’s 889 retail members as of Jan. 31) attended the event, up 18% from spring 1994.

It’s not clear yet what form the relationship between the two associations would take. But Roberts said it would be based on an exchange of ideas and services, not conventional membership. The Japanese group &endash; which has 100 member companies with 380 stores doing $880 million in business annually &endash; is interested in marketing and other services that IJO offers to members. IJO, for its part, might be able to buy Japanese pearls through NGC at significantly reduced prices.

NGC first contacted IJO in early 1994, and officials of both associations have visited each other’s headquarters since then. In fact, NGC Chairman Kazuo Kawasumi and several staff members attended IJO’s spring event to speak with members and share ideas about retailing in the U.S. and Japan. Further talks are to be held this month.

IJO has several international members (three in Great Britain, five in Australia and about 20 in Canada), but none yet in Asia. Roberts said IJO intends to increase its membership in Canada now that the North American Free Trade Agreement has eliminated some restrictions that hindered IJO services as a buying group. (Also benefiting: The Jewelers Board of Trade, which announced recently it will expand credit reporting services in Canada.) IJO President Jack Gredinger said Canadian recruitment will start at Jewellery World Expo ’95, a trade show scheduled for Aug. 27-29 in Toronto. IJO hopes to have 55 to 75 Canadian members by year’s end.

Roberts said IJO also is considering enrolling Mexican jewelers, though no time frame was announced.

Education: Michael Allbritton, assistant to the vice president of the Gemological Institute of America, urged IJO jewelers to take more professional education courses, especially IJO/GIA title programs, which he called the “most comprehensive [and] strictest” in the industry.

He said independent jewelers must remain up-to-date because of “dramatic changes” such as fracture-filling and competition from non-traditional jewelry sellers, including QVC, the Home Shopping Network and Wal-Mart. These sources now train their salespeople at GIA and through “very good and very efficient” company training programs, enabling them to pass knowledge on to customers. “If you can’t answer those consumers as knowledgeably when they come to you,” he said, “you’ll miss the boat and the sale.”

Allbritton and Gredinger said GIA and IJO are working on more programs so IJO members can stay abreast of developments in gemology and product information.

In other business:

  • The buying show &endash; a major source of IJO’s revenue &endash; was one of its best. The privately owned organization doesn’t release sales figures, but Gredinger said sales at this event were within 5% of the spring ’94 show, the best in IJO’s history. Diamond and karat gold jewelry sold well, and one of the most popular booths belonged to Visual Impact, a window display company and IJO newcomer. While jewelers seemed to be cherry-picking in their buying in the wake of Christmas ’94, a number expressed optimism about their local markets and their IJO marketing programs for the year.

  • IJO announced it will add two tours of Swiss watch factories to its annual spring diamond-buying trips to Antwerp.

  • Financial analyst Steve LeFever, who has conducted a popular series of workshops on “fiscal fitness” over the past three years, announced creation of a 10-part video series and an interactive computer software program exclusively for IJO members, based on the workshops


Seminars: IJO’s well-attended seminar program included “Store Design Update” by designer MariAnn Coutchie; the “Your Money” segment of IJO’s Business Education series, presented by Gredinger; “Working with Your Banker & Taxman,” the final part of LeFever’s fiscal discipline series; and “How to Buy Jewelers Block Insurance” by Howard Herzog of Gueits, Adams, Herzog & Cohen, a Newport Beach, Cal., company specializing in jewelers block and fine arts insurance.

IJO and GIA also presented workshops for children and teenagers on such topics as diamond grading, gemstone facts, stringing beads and making a domed necklace.

The best-attended seminar, though, was “Fighting Fairly,” designed for spouses who work together. Several hundred people attended the session, presented by husband and wife David and Simone Bibeau Richardson, business management and motivational speakers. Disagreeing with each other is part of business and marriage, they noted, but “do it fairly, without name calling, screaming or threats.” A few more of their “Fighting Fairly” tips:

  • When angry, define the real problem. Is the problem really work-related or does it stem from the fact he or she didn’t take out the garbage last night?

  • Stick to the problem.

  • Don’t build a wall or withdraw from each other.

  • Express feelings openly and honestly to each other. If you can’t trust each other, you can’t be in business with each other.

  • Listen to each other. Listening is the greatest gift we can give anyone.

  • Listen beyond the words. Many times we don’t hear because we don’t want to hear.

  • Examine each other’s points of view.

The Richardsons gave attendees personal profile surveys to complete and analyze. They also offered advice on giving each other “positive recognition” and said personal plans are as important as business plans to a successful business marriage. These plans should include time for each other alone and time for non-business vacations, friends, spiritual growth and personal growth, they said.

IJO’s Fall Seminar and Buying Show will be held Aug. 5-10 in The Boston Marriott at Copley Place, Boston, Mass.


A major breakthrough for the Gems and Jewelry Division was announced at the International Society of Appraisers’ Conference on Appraising, held March 12-15 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, Ill. At a committee meeting on March 11, Gail Brett Levine, chair of the Gems and Jewelry Division, announced that an accredited gemologist degree would now satisfy the specialty studies requirement in the Certified Appraiser of Personal Property (CAPP) process. Base knowledge acquired by successfully completed studies at the following institutions fulfill the minimum criteria:

1. Gemological Institute of America’s Graduate Gemologist (GG).

2. Gemmological Association of Great Britain’s Fellow Graduate Gemmologist (FGA).

3. American Gem Society’s Certified Gemologist and Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CG and CGA).

While this new process eliminates the need to take a one-week course in gemology (previously required by ISA) CAPP seekers still will have to take the basic appraisal core courses, numbered 101, 102 and103. Upon completion, students would be eligible to apply for the test for the CAPP course in Gems and Jewelry.

This above announcement set the tone for the rest of the conference, which was harmonious and warm, albeit less well-attended than in the past. (Levine says attendance was off about 10%.) Critics say the conference may have been offered too soon after the February Tucson gem and mineral shows, so organizers have decided to hold next year’s conference a little later. It’s set for April 28 in Houston, Tex.

The Chicago conference covered many aspects from different fields of appraisal (Fine Arts, Antiques and Residential, Machinery and Equipment, and Gems & Jewelry.) Experts from a variety of gem and jewelry professions lectured on such topics as “Evaluating Art Jewelry,” “Quest for Appraisal Excellence,” “Jewels of the Maharajah” and “Cartier: The Excellent, The Mediocre and the Faux.”


The Jewelry Information Center plays an important role that’s unduplicated in the industry, placing positive stories in the consumer news media and making consumers excited about wearing and owning jewelry. But JIC needs to revitalize itself by better defining the benefits of membership.

These are the major findings of a study based on in-depth interviews with about 50 JIC members and prospective members. JIC commissioned Marketing Missions, a marketing intelligence company, to conduct the study to gather information that would help to increase membership, define the needs of each membership constituency and enhance programs to expand recognition of JIC activities.

The study outlined three key roles for JIC. It should:

1. Stress promotion, still JIC’s No. 1 role. JIC should help the industry to reach consumers in creative ways in order to capture a bigger market share of discretionary spending.

2. Serve as a vanguard for the jewelry industry. JIC should act as a clearing house of information on demographic trends, fashion and lifestyle changes and spending trends.

3. Inform and educate consumers. The study suggests JIC should try to duplicate the success of such organizations as the World Gold Council, De Beers and the Platinum Guild International in creating demand. This process must start, says the study, with more interaction between retailers and manufacturers and ongoing public relations work.

The study also listed four recommendations for development of a JIC action plan:

1. JIC must produce tangible, measurable results in the areas of public relations and promotion. Suggestions include creating a promotional calendar of events that members and the news media can follow, developing a new JIC brochure to revitalize interest in the organization and planning, tracking and following up with communication to members and the news media.

2. Above all others, help jewelry retailers. Suggestions include developing a kit to teach retailers how to generate news media interest in jewelry and their stores.

3. Court the media. Consider how to nurture media relations with a constant flow of useful information and seasonal “pushes” for particular products.

4. Maintain active communication with JIC members. Suggestions include a newsletter to members, prospective members and the news media covering such topics as JIC plans, promotions and case studies. Members also should be involved in promotional efforts through news media interviews, newsletter bylines and seminars.


The Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association welcomed more than 400 people to the first-ever Alumni Gala and Tucson Two-Step, held in February during the Tucson gem and mineral shows. The event, held in the Doubletree Hotel Grand Ballroom, featured a dinner buffet, live country and western music, two-stepping and country line dancing, and the presentation of chapter awards for 1994.

The North Texas Chapter was named Outstanding Chapter of the Year. The Northern California Chapter received the Chapter Newsletter Award. The Korea, Michigan, New England, North Texas and Northern California chapters were named Regional Chapters of the Year. And the Quebec Chapter earned the distinction of Best New or Reactivated Chapter of the Year.

Named Regional Members of the Year were Melinda Adducci of the Michigan Chapter, John S. Cryan III of the Delaware Valley Chapter, Frank Everts of the North Texas Chapter, Kil Pyo Hong of the Korea Chapter, Rhonda Jacobson of the Georgia Chapter, Gloria Maggi of the Long Island Chapter and Anita Wilde of the Metro Phoenix Chapter.

Members of various chapters were honored for volunteer service. They are: Melinda Adducci, Bob Bedra, Linda Bocchino, Tony Bocchino, Art Brom, Janet Burgess, Neola Caveny, Kenneth Chang, Tom Chatham, Irving Clark, Jo Ellen Cole, Steve Cravitz, Shirley Cunningham, Bela Dvorcsak, Kathleen Donovan, Richard Drucker, Frank Everts, Al Gilbertson, David Harris, Rhonda Jacobson, Kiran Khaitan, Gail Levine, Mike Levinson, Gloria Maggi, Ruth May, Sofus Michelson, Mary Moses, Bill Sites, Memory Stather, Karen Sternberg, Don Tomace, Steve Turner, Starla Turner, Sharon Wakefield, Pam Welborn and Anita Wilde.


Peter C. Fuller of Fuller Box Co., North Attleboro, Mass., is the new chairman of the Jewelers Board of Trade, East Providence, R.I.

Other officers are Howard M. Kilguss of Excell Mfg. Co., Providence, R.I., first vice chairman; Theodore L. Bonsignore of Krementz & Co., Newark, N.J., second vice chairman; and Nathaniel C. Earle, Rumford, Conn., president, secretary and treasurer.

The executive committee consists of Fuller, Kilguss and Bonsignore, as well as Donald LeStage III of LeStage Mfg. Co., North Attleboro; and Roger H. Gesswein Jr. of Paul H. Gesswein & Co., Bridgeport, Conn.

Newly elected directors are David P. Biddle of Golay Buchel-USA Ltd., New York City; George Byam of Terryberry Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; Suzanne L. Conley of Suco Inc., Cranston, R.I.; Hugh G. Glenn of Glenn Corp., New York City; and James J. Occhiogrosso of ABN AMRO Bank, New York City.


The Central Illinois Guild of the American Gem Society recently hosted a conference that centered on enhancing gemological and customer service techniques.

“These meetings create a forum for open discussion on topics such as glass-filled diamonds,” says Janette Brown of Quincy, Ill., president of the guild. “This, in turn, allows us to provide for proper identification and disclosure methods, protecting against fraudulent practices.”

Also at the conference, a diamond cutter related his experiences traveling to the diamond centers of Johannesburg, Antwerp and Tel Aviv and offered an outsider’s perspective on how well retailers meet their customers’ needs and expectations.

Central Illinois Guild, 800 State St., Quincy, Ill. 62306; (217) 223-0027.


A new 209-page membership directory is now available from the Appraisers Association of America.

The spiral-bound directory lists more than 1,000 appraisers in 50 major categories and 600 subcategories. The directory is arranged by state and then city, with members’ names in each city listed alphabetically. You can cross-reference with the help of an overall alphabetical list of members or a detailed list of appraising specialties. Certified members of the association are indicated with an asterisk, and their specialties are underlined.

“I am sure this directory will be the most easily accessible and complete source for finding an appraiser in personal property and allied disciplines,” says AAA President Alex J. Rosenberg. “Users of appraisal services… should find this edition truly indispensable.”

To order a copy, send $14.95 (which includes third-class postage) to Appraisers Association of America, 386 Park Ave. S., Suite 2000, New York, N.Y. 10016; (212) 889-5404, fax (212) 889-5503.


Takashi Wakuyama, president of Seiko Corp. of America, Mahwah, N.J., will receive the 1995 Industry Man of the Year Award from the New York State Jewelers Association. The award will be presented at NYSJA’s 86th annual convention May 20-22. The presentation will be made by Hugh Glenn, president of Glenn Corp., NewYork, N.Y.

The choice of the honoree reflects the theme of the conference: “The Watch Industry Rides the Waves into the 21st Century.”

This year, in a departure with tradition, the conference will be held at a different location, the Marriott Wind Watch Hotel and Golf Club in Hauppauge, N.Y.


The International Appraisal Conference of the American Society of Appraisers will be held June 19-21 in the Adams Mark Hotel in Denver, Colo.

The conference will feature seminars and other presentations aimed at appraisers of all types of property, including jewelry. Included will be ASA chapter award presentations, guest speakers and a trade show.

For information on the trade show, call Maureen Boyer at the Exhibits Convention Service Center, (800) 525-6338. To register or more information on the conference, contact American Society of Appraisers, P.O. Box 17265, Washington, D.C. 20041; (800) ASA-VALU. If you have a computer with modem, learn more about the conference by going online with the Appraisal Profession Online network; set your modem to dial 1-703-478-5502.


Anthony D. Ostrom is the new president of the Boston Jewelers Club. Ostrom, vice president of Tiffany & Co., Boston, was elected at the club’s recent 106th annual meeting.

Other officers are D. Colby Lunt III of Lunt Silversmiths, Greenfield, Mass., vice president, and Robert W. Paul of Warwick, R.I., secretary-treasurer.

The club also announced its 1995 outing will be held June 5 and its beefsteak dinner, Nov. 3.

Boston Jewelers Club, 15 Nightingale Ave., Warwick, R.I. 02889; (401) 737-5757.


The Canadian Jewellers Association has chosen Karen Bassels to fill the new position of associate general manager.

Bassels formerly ran the association’s annual trade show and developed its credit information portfolio. She now will create an “association within the association” to focus on the needs of jewelry manufacturers, importers, distributors and traveling sales representatives. She also will build relationships with similar organizations in other countries to help boost Canadian jewelry exports.


The American Gem Society announced it will be working with N.W. Ayer in its 1995 women’s diamond jewelry print advertising program. The national campaign targets men and is designed to provide information they need to make knowledgeable diamond buying decisions.

The program includes two ads. One features a diamond heart pendant; the other, three diamond bracelets. All pieces are provided by AGS Supplier firms.

The campaign starts this spring and will continue through Christmas. It will be supported with $3 million in national ad funding.


A seminar program and social events highlighted the 49th convention of Jewelers of Louisiana Inc., held recently in Alexandria.

Keynote speaker was Ginger Dick, an industry author, speaker and marketing expert. Her topic was “Promotions for the Off Season.” Jennifer Johnson of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office spoke about going-out-of-business sales, truth in pricing and local trade shows. Ulla Raus and Shannon Calloway of the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology offered a review of advances in bench technology. Chari Bierlien, G.G., spoke about fracture-filled diamonds.

The association named Joan Thompson of ArtCarved Wedding Rings as Salesperson of the Year and Richard Melancon of Melancon Jewelers in Abbeville as Jeweler of the Year. Johnny Tate of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in Baton Rouge won the association’s custom design contest with an 18k yellow gold ruby and diamond collar clip.

Social events included a welcoming-night barbecue and the association’s annual banquet and casino/auction.

The association’s 50th anniversary convention will be held July 15-16 in Baton Rouge. All past presidents will be honored, so the association is seeking pictures, articles and information from the past, including anything relating to the Louisiana Retail Jewelers Association and the Louisiana Horological Association.

Jewelers of Louisiana Inc., 11413 Sullivan Rd., Baton Rouge, La. 70818; (504) 261-6763.

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