Gold: CIRCA Jewelry Buying & More

Birds of Paradise

A one-of-a-kind locket in 18k yellow and white gold and 20k rose gold weighs 300 grams and measures 2.5 inches long by 0.375 inch deep. With 479 pavé-set round diamonds (on the front and back) totaling 3.68 cts., the pendant was inspired by a piece of Japanese history—a carved-wood Edo-period box featuring cranes. The birds, which have long been a symbol of the soul, symbolize good luck, long life, marriage, and—when shown in flight—freedom from limitations. ($125,000; Kim Kaufman Designs, New York City; 914-462-0605;

Secondhand Success Stories

Ricky Bromberg is happy to take diamond trade-ins at his 174-year-old store, but has less enthusiasm for estate transactions. “Buying old jewelry is just not something that we do on a day-to-day basis,” explains the president of Bromberg & Co. in Birmingham, Ala.

So he was intrigued when his brother Clayton—president of Northeast Florida’s Underwood Jewelers—hosted CIRCA public buying events in his Ponte Vedra Beach and Jacksonville locations. Clayton also lacks an estate department, but when the recession hit, he began seeing more and more customers with merchandise to sell. “CIRCA was better than any outfit we’d ever worked with as far as consistency and how they spoke to our customers,” Clayton says of the 9-year-old global jewelry-buying company. His events, held last March, went well, to say the least: “We had more appointments the first 30 minutes than the team could handle the rest of the day.” 

CIRCA rep Craig Miller with a client at Bromberg & Co.’s Mountain Brook store

Buoyed by his sibling’s success, Ricky Brom­berg decided to hold two separate two-day events in his Summit and Mountain Brook stores. While CIRCA reps did appraisals, store staff acted as hosts, ensuring guests were comfortable with seats and beverages. “We thought a CIRCA event might help our customers liquidate things they no longer want, in an environment they’re comfortable with, and possibly use those dollars to buy something new,” says Ricky. To alert Bromberg & Co. shoppers, CIRCA paid for a direct mailing and helped fund four full-page black-and-white newspaper ads. Some 60 daily slots were scheduled (and filled) on event days; walk-ins were also accommodated. “There were easily 100 people through the stores on both days,” says Ricky.

CIRCA reps cut checks for consumers who accepted their appraisals, and Bromberg & Co. received a 5 percent to 10 percent commission. Meanwhile, anyone who bought new ­jewelry that day was permitted to sign over CIRCA checks to Bromberg & Co., which then gave them 20 percent more spending money. Plus: Thanks to the store’s new CIRCA agent status—and vice versa, as CIRCA is its authorized purchasing agent—it can still take in pieces and obtain quotes after events.

“The events were more of an art and less of a science,” Ricky says. “One customer might have a lot of pieces, others had only one—it was difficult to run like clockwork.” But would he do it again? Yes—just not too soon: “We wouldn’t want to overfish the waters.”

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