JCK Annual Salary Study

Blame it on growing expenses, high reinvestment or profit-taking, but a nearly 15% increase in retail jewelry store sales in 1995 did little to boost salaries. From the president’s office to the office staff, salaries ran about even with those of 1994, which ran about even with those of 1993.

Interestingly, jewelry store employees with specialized technical knowledge saw their salaries grow substantially. That’s one indication the skills of gemologists, goldsmiths, benchworkers and watchmakers are increasingly important as independent jewelers, in their battle for market share, offer services that mass merchandisers don’t.

That’s a capsule look at the latest JCK salary study, an annual review of salary and benefit plans among the members of the JCK Retail Jewelers Panel. The panel’s 650 members represent primarily independent stores across the nation.

Results of the study can’t be compared exactly with those of previous years because not all stores participate in every study. In addition, this year’s study was configured differently to obtain separate figures for men and women in all job categories. But a general comparison shows some clear trends.

The median salaries for many of the highest executives remain stagnant (around $50,000 for men, $30,000 for women). The next layer of authority (vice presidents, treasurers and controllers) fared even worse, with salaries generally lower than in 1994. The same was true for store managers and assistant managers.

But jewelers, gemologists, goldsmiths and buyers enjoyed approximate median increases of 10%. The median salary for this category was $30,333 for men and $19,000 for women(there was a fairly small sample of women in this category). Increases and salaries were about the same for watchmakers.

The news was even better for benchworkers and jewelry repairers. Their overall median salary passed $30,000 for the first time with increases in excess of 30%. (Turn the page for a complete list of job categories and salaries.)

Median salaries were higher for men than for women in most of the top and middle management categories. However, women in the study had higher median salaries than men in several categories, including vice president/treasurer/controller, assistant manager and benchworker/jewelry repair.Women also had higher median salaries than men in the bookkeeper/accountant and office staff/miscellaneous categories.

Male store managers saw their median salary increase 3% while their female counterparts’ decreased 4% from the previous year. And the median salary for male and female salespeople fell nearly 4%.

Meanwhile, 25% of the jewelers in the study say they pay salary only. Nearly the same number also pay commissions. About half offer individual bonuses to reward special efforts, while 39% offer spiffs and 24% offer group bonuses.

Salary-only firms are concentrated in the highest and lowest sales volumes. Commissions are most popular among medium-size businesss ($700,000-$999,999 annual sales volume) and the biggest (over $2.5 million).

Benefits: The top benefits — as usual — were paid vacation, paid sick leave and merchandise discounts. And it’s no surprise the higher a jeweler’s sales volume, the better the benefits package for employees (see chart on page 69).

Growing in popularity are financial aid for education (offered by more than half of the study participants), unpaid maternity leave and various insurance programs.

Medical, pension and insurance benefits were funded primarily by the company and employee together (40% of respondents). Three out of 10 companies fund these programs themselves. A negligible number require employees to fund the programs themselves. Not surprisingly, the bigger the company, the more likely it is to contribute to the programs.

Satisfaction: Do the salary and benefit programs yield the desired result: productive employees?

Forty-seven percent of respondents are very satisfied or extremely satisfied with the results. However, a substantial 35% are only somewhat satisfied, indicating there could be changes in the future. The most satisfied with their compensation plans are those with the highest sales volume: 92% in the $2.5 million category are very pleased or extremely pleased. However, jewelers in the next largest category ($1 million to $2.5 million) are the least satisfied.

Asked to rate how fairly their compensation plan rewards employees, half are very pleased and a quarter are somewhat pleased. These ratings are fairly consistent among businesses of all sizes.

THE BENEFITS PACKAGE
Paid vacation, paid sick leave and merchandise discounts top the list of benefits offered by jewelers.
Sales Volume

Total Under $300,000 $300,000 – $699,999 $700,000 – $999,999 $1 million – $2.5 million Over $2.5 million
Paid vacation 84% 60% 79% 88% 94% 92%
Paid sick leave 62% 20% 42% 63% 65% 100%
Defined pension plan 16% 0% 5% 25% 29% 25%
401k savings plan 16% 10% 5% 13% 18% 50%
Educational assistance 51% 30% 37% 63% 59% 83%
Merchandise discount 88% 70% 84% 88% 94% 100%
Dental insurance 24% 0% 11% 13% 35% 67%
Life insurance 40% 0% 16% 63% 47% 67%
Medical insurance 69% 20% 63% 88% 82% 92%
Short-term disability 17% 0% 11% 25% 18% 25%
Long-term disability 13% 10% 11% 13% 18% 25%
Unpaid maternity leave 41% 30% 32% 50% 41% 50%
Paid maternity leave 16% 0% 5% 0% 18% 42%

JCK SALARY STUDY: WHO EARNS WHAT

Job title ’95 total ’95 base ’94 total ’95 total salary range
Chairman, president, owner, partner (men)
All stores $50,045 $49,933 $50,000 $15,600-$346,500
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $91,245 $85,120 $73,000 $30,000-$346,500
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $37,316 $22,080 $41,600 $15,600-$87,000
Chairman, president, owner, partner (women)
All stores $30,000 $25,000 $50,000 $10,400-$229,999
Stores with annual volume over $1 million*
Stores with annual volume under $1 million*
Vice presidents, treasurers, controllers (men)
All stores $38,000 $38,000 $48,880 $20,600-$100,909
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $56,250 $49,912 $50,000 $35,000-$100,909
Stores with annual volume of less than $1 million $23,000 $18,000 $19,580 $20,600-$25,400
Vice presidents, treasurers, controllers (women)
All stores $42,078 $38,978 $48,800 $28,000-$54,000
Stores with annual volume over $1million $45,578 $41,478 $50,000 $36,000-$54,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million*
Store managers (men)
All stores $40,617 $34,652 $39,400 $22,000-$60,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $45,121 $36,576 $40,630 $27,000-$60,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $36,317 $32,047 $31,000 $22,000-$50,000
Store managers (women)
All stores $31,298 $25,399 $32,650 $12,000-$68,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $35,063 $30,275 $40,000 $15,000-$68,000
Stores with annual volume of less than $1 million $20,939 $20,260 $26,000 $12,000-$46,600
Assistant store managers (men)
All stores $26,000 $18,000 $25,000 $15,000-$40,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $31,213 $24,125 $30,500 $19,500-$40,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $17,900 $14,750 $17,300 $15,000-$20,800
Assistant store managers, buyers (women)
All stores $26,938 $20,500 $25,000 $17,000-$33,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $26,938 $20,500 $30,500 $22,000-$32,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $25,000 $23,000 $17,300 $17,000-$33,000
Jeweler, gemologist, goldsmith, buyer (men)
All stores $30,333 $29,875 $26,000 $16,000-$56,515
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $31,500 $29,750 $29,500 $22,000-$56,515
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $30,300 $30,300 $24,850 $16,000-$41,000
Jeweler, gemologist, goldsmith, buyer (women)
All stores $19,000 $16,640 $26,000 $16,000-$38,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million*
Stores with annual volume under $1 million*
Benchworker, jewelry repair (men)
All stores $30,215 $25,083 $22,500 $4,788-$46,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $31,333 $27,667 $23,350 $18,000-$46,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $27,921 $24,921 $19,800 $4,788-$40,000
Benchworker, jewelry repair (women)
All stores $32,050 $30,950 $22,500 $10,930-$36,500
Stores with annual volume over $1 million*
Stores with annual volume under $1 million*
Watchmaker (men)
All stores $31,684 $31,684 28,000 $18,299-$51,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $35,698 $22,371 $33,500 $20,000-$51,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $22,371 $22,080 $41,600 $18,299-$31,684
Watchmaker (women)*
General sales (men)
All stores $30,096 $26,750 $31,200 $15,770-$42,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $34,275 $30,272 $35,500 $18,200-$42,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million*
General sales (women)
All stores $17,380 $15,600 $18,100 $7,050-$32,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $17,937 $17,068 $20,200 $13,333-$32,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million* $19,705 $14,193 $13,300 $7,050-$29,000
Bookkeeper, accountant (men)*
Bookkeeper, accountant (women)
All stores $23,000 $22,025 $25,000 $7,000-$41,391
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $26,614 $25,500 $25,500 $14,500-$41,391
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $9,900 $9,050 * $7,000-$15,000
Office staff and miscellaneous (men)
All stores $14,876 $14,876 $16,000 $8,000-$39,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $19,750 $18,500 $16,000 $10,000-$39,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million*
Office staff and miscellaneous (women)
All stores $15,000 $600 $16,000 $10,500-$31,000
Stores with annual volume over $1 million $14,887 $1,750 $16,000 $10,500-$31,000
Stores with annual volume under $1 million $13,960 $500 $16,000 $12,200-$16,890
*The sample size in this category was too small to warrant a breakdown.

JCK has slightly revised the salary chart this year, based on reader response to previous studies. The biggest change is a separate listing for men and women in all job categories (previously only store managers and general salespeople were listed by gender).

Also, we moved buyers from the assistant store manager category to the jeweler/gemologist/goldsmith category to better reflect job levels.

And finally we added a base salary category to indicate how much of the total is base and how much is commission and bonuses.

This means 1995 figures can’t be compared with those from 1994 (except in the case of store managers and general salespeople). In all other cases, the 1994 figures are listed merely as a reference point.Also note identical salaries are listed for men and women in most 1994 categories because a breakdown by gender was unavailable.

The questionnaire was mailed to the 650 members of the JCKRetail Jewelers Panel in July 1996. The response rate was 18%.