JCK Business Report

Ad Campaign Profile: Building a Quality Image

Jeweler: Hands Jewelers Location: Iowa City, Iowa – population 61,000

Genesis of ad theme: Freelance graphic designer Ron McClellan developed the ad theme based on the rural look of the cloisonné pendant which is set with Lazare Kaplan diamonds.

Prepared by: Ron McClellan and William G. Nusser Jr., Hands Jewelers owner and president

Medium: Season program for the 2,500-seat Hancher Auditorium, a regional performing arts center located at the University of Iowa that attracts audiences from an approximately 90-mile radius.

Duration: During the September to May performance season, the ad appeared on the inside cover of playbills for nearly 40 cultural events (dance, theater, classical music, world music, jazz, Broadway musicals and children’s programs).

Cost: $5,000 for ad space and $2,000 for production. Internal labor cost has not been estimated.

Campaign background: For each of the past nine years, Hands Jewelers has developed an ad specifically for Hancher’s playbills. Each year the ads feature jewelry items priced over $5,000 set with Lazare Kaplan diamonds. The pieces typically sell within a few months.

The program ads are designed to be visually appealing and to touch upon themes of interest to the performing arts center’s well-educated audience. The graphic design and ad copy are created to be looked at many times over by season ticket holders.

Campaign objectives:

  • Increase awareness of Lazare Kaplan diamonds

  • Increase sales of diamonds over one carat

  • Promote the image of Hands Jewelers as the place to go for high-quality, memorable jewelry

  • Strengthen Hands Jewelers’ regional customer base

  • Appeal to Hancher’s primarily rural, well-educated audience. “Everyone in Iowa, whether they live in cities or not, relates to the land,” says Nusser. “Those of us who are natives all came from farm families.” The community’s largest employer is the University of Iowa.

Target customer: The Hancher auditorium attracts Hands’ three target demographics: the engagement ring market (20 to 34 year olds), those in their acquisition years (35 to 54 year olds) and the mature market (55+ year olds). Arts program advertising is designed to attract and retain these lifelong customers.

Effectiveness:

Near-term: Of the two rings, priced over $20,000 each, that were featured in the ad, one sold by Christmas, the other by April. The $16,000 pendant, on loan from Lazare Kaplan, never sold, but attracted more than 15 customers a month during the nine-month season. Inexplicably, most of those who came to see the pendant were in their 20s. Sales resulting from the increased store traffic were not tracked.

Long-term: The cumulative effect of the nine years of program ads (and other marketing strategies) featuring jewelry designed with Lazare Kaplan diamonds has been significant. Of the store’s loose diamond sales, 90% are now Lazare Kaplan diamonds – up from 5% when these were first introduced. Sales of diamonds over 1 carat have also grown dramatically. The store now sells more than 12 pairs of 1.5- to 2-ct. diamond earrings priced at $20,000 and up each year.

Percent of store revenues spent on advertising: 3.5% to 4%

Store revenues: not disclosed; over $1 million

Exceptionally successful, creative jewelry store advertising campaigns will be featured in upcoming issues. To submit ads for consideration, please send camera-ready art (slides, photos or transparencies) plus a brief description of the campaign’s business impact to: Jessica Stein Diamond, Senior Editor, JCK Magazine, 201 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor, PA 19089.

Estate Tax Bite Shrinks for Family-Owned Businesses

Starting this year, more of the value in a family-owned business can be passed on tax-free to the next generation through an estate. That’s a real benefit when you consider that estate taxes can run as high as 55%.

The maximum value of a qualified family-owned business that can be passed on tax-free through an estate is now capped at $1.3 million. That’s a significant improvement over the $600,000 exemption for a single estate that had applied regardless of whether or not the estate contained a family-owned business.

The ’97 change in tax law works this way: the portion of the business that can be passed on tax-free is calculated by subtracting the total personal estate exemption claimed from $1.3 million.

Say, for instance, that an individual passed away today. His estate contains a $1 million business and has claimed the full personal estate exemption currently available ($625,000). The maximum allowable value of the family-owned business that could be transferred tax-free through the estate would be $675,000 ($1.3 million minus $625,000).

Of course, the ’97 tax law also gradually increases the allowable personal estate tax exemption from today’s $625,000 to $1 million in 2006. That means the benefit of the new $1.3 million exemption for family businesses declines with each successive year.

“This can be a limited benefit due to the technical requirements for eligibility under the law,” says Irv Levy, C.P.A. “But it is certainly good news and in the appropriate situation can save substantial amounts of money.”

Levy is a principal in the tax department of Buffalo-based Freed Maxick Sachs & Murphy, P.C., one of the 100 largest CPA firms in the U.S. He advises anyone planning to leave a family business to the next generation through an estate to evaluate this new tax benefit in consultation with a tax advisor. “There are many other creative wealth transfer strategies that can be implemented to reduce the cost of transferring a business from one generation to the next.” he adds. “But this is absolutely a benefit that could prove to be very valuable.”

Jewelry Line Belongs in Trunk

Joe Larson (not his real name), a traveling salesman, had called on jewelers at two Florida retail stores and was driving to a nearby town for his third call of the day. As he waited in a line of traffic at a red stoplight, a man walked up to the driver’s window of his car and asked for directions.

Joe rolled down his window slightly and told the stranger that he didn’t know his way around the city. Just then, a second man smashed the window on the passenger side of his car, reached in and grabbed Joe’s line from the seat.

Within seconds both suspects were gone.

Would this loss be paid under his company’s Jewelers Block policy? Probably.

To be covered under its Jewelers Block policy, the wholesale company must list Joe Larson as a salesperson on the policy’s application or renewal document. If Joe joined the company after the policy was in force, the company should have added Joe to the policy through an endorsement.

The company also should have listed a limit of coverage – for example, $250,000 – that represents the most the insurance company will pay for Joe’s covered loss.

This same type of loss can occur when retail jewelers transport jewelry to a repair shop, the post office or another store. To be covered under Jewelers Block, the jeweler must have off-premises coverage. Retail jewelers may mistakenly believe that off-premises coverage applies only to traveling salespeople; it actually is needed if a jeweler transports jewelry outside his or her store.

To assure coverage of a loss, the policy requires that Joe take specific steps. He must:

  1. Immediately notify the police that a crime has occurred. The police will conduct an investigation and file a report that is used by the insurance company to document the loss.

  2. Contact the company he represents so that it can notify its insurer of the loss. The insurance policy requires prompt notification.

Joe should make two additional calls.

First he should contact the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) at (800) 537-0067 to report the crime. JSA monitors crime against the jewelry industry and may be able to assist police in their investigation. For example, JSA may have information about similar crimes in the region and clues to the criminals’ identity. Joe should give the police JSA’s phone number.

He also should report the crime to the regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (The FBI is listed in the government section or business pages of most telephone directories.)

Joe and the company he represents will need to provide a written inventory detailing the contents and value of merchandise taken, as well as other records such as sales receipts. Joe should not have kept his inventory records with the line. If he did, it may be difficult to document what was taken or its value. This could delay or even jeopardize the loss payment.

Lessons

Unfortunately, many traveling salespeople don’t know what they need to do to make sure jewelry lines are covered by insurance while they’re on the road. Because salespeople may be held liable for losses that aren’t covered by insurance, they should ask the companies they represent about insurance provisions that apply to off-premises coverage. Remember these points:

  • Make sure you’re listed on the Jewelers Block policy of the company you represent. Some companies might ask you to take out your own policy.

  • In addition to confirming that the line is insured, find out how losses need to be documented.

  • Keep a written inventory of what you are carrying in a safe location, away from your line.

  • Always place jewelry in the trunk. This might have prevented Joe’s loss. The criminals undoubtedly followed Joe from store to store. They watched him place his jewelry on the front passenger seat, providing easy access.

  • Consider installing a special security system in the trunk to protect jewelry further.

Not all losses can be prevented, but you can reduce the likelihood of theft by carefully following security procedures. Make sure you have the proper insurance to cover the loss. Even if you don’t, do not resist. Your merchandise is not worth your life.

This is one of a series of case studies prepared by Ronald R. Harder, president and CEO of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company.

Twelfth Month Puts a Twinkle in the Jeweler’s Eye

December is the best month for diamond jewelry sales throughout the world, according to research recently conducted by De Beers’ Consumer Marketing Division.

The registers ring cheerily during that month, with approximately 18 million pieces of diamond jewelry purchased globally. That accounts for more than a quarter of the yearly total of 67 million pieces sold. These findings, reported in In-Sight – The CSO Magazine, make it clear that cultural factors play a large role in the timing of jewelry purchases.

Christmas accounts for 20% of all diamond jewelry pieces acquired worldwide in the year and 14% of the dollar value. The breakdown of December sales by country (see chart) suggests that the holiday plays the largest role in Europe – especially Germany and the U.K. – and, as would be expected, the smallest role in some Asian and Middle Eastern nations.

Other factors that influence the timing of diamond jewelry purchases include:

  • The importance of the self-purchase market,

  • Other holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Hanukah, Mother’s Day, the Chinese New Year and Ramadan,

  • Spending for occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, engagements or the birth of a child.

However, De Beers’ research indicates that nearly 30% of pieces sold worldwide are purchased without a special occasion in mind. That underscores the fact that selling opportunities abound year-round.

10 Tips For Dynamic Selling

This list of handy selling tips comes from Laura Laaman of Rochester, N.Y.-based Executive Training Consultants:

  1. Greet each customer quickly, enthusiastically and always with a handshake. Look a customer in the eye to establish trust. Try a great opening line like “What special occasion brought you into the store today?” This is a good way to head off the “just looking” response elicited by the usual “May I help you?”

  2. Look for something you like about the customer so you can give them a sincere compliment. Superficial compliments are transparent; customers can see right through them.

  3. Find a way to reach common ground with the customer. Ask his or her name and introduce yourself. Ask great qualifying questions, such as “Is quality something that’s important to you?” The answer is almost always yes. Ask at least 40 questions throughout a sale: “Who recommended ABC Jewelers to you?” or “What do you do?” Do not ask, “What do you do for a living?”; this could offend parents who stay home to take care of their children.

  4. Never ask blunt questions such as “How much would you like to spend?” This leads to unnecessary negotiation with the customer.

  5. Always start the customer at the top of the price ladder. Showing a $2,000 ring might insult a corporate executive who’s willing to spend $30,000. It’s better to step the customer down than up.

  6. Include all parties present in the conversation and sale. Don’t overlook the woman, even if her fiancé is purchasing the engagement ring.

  7. React to buying signals. When the customer shows buying interest by saying, “How much is that?” use assumptive vocabulary that can influence or close a sale. Example: “Today, your diamond engagement ring is only $5,000.” “Today” implies the customer is buying now. “Your” implies the jewelry is as good as owned by the customer already. “Only” implies the jewelry is a great buy.

  8. When describing jewelry or watches, use dynamic vocabulary such as: custom, striking, only, unique and hand-crafted.

  9. Always use positive body language, avoiding crossed arms, bad posture or averted eye gaze. Your rate of speech should be clear and brisk, although not auctioneer style.

  10. After a successful sale, send thank you notes to all customers. Before a customer leaves the store, ask him or her, “Where may we send you correspondence?” – By Keith Flamer

THINGS I HATE TO DO

Ask jewelers what task they most dislike and the answer is simple: firing someone. Given a list of nine business matters they might find unpleasant, here’s how JCK’s Retail Panelists set their priorities:

While a few curmudgeons put working with a family member or a partner on their “most unpleasant task” list, most Panelists felt quite the opposite. A high percentage rated working with family as a most desirable business matter. Perhaps the biggest surprise of this poll was the very strong feelings Panelists have about dealing with unpleasant customers. Asked to rate their feelings on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is “most unpleasant,” almost two-thirds of Panelists gave a 1, 2 or 3 rating to dealing with that customer from hell.

Task % of #1 “most unpleasant” votes given to this issue
Firing an employee 44%
Have trouble paying bills 16%
Dealing with an unpleasant customer 13%
Disciplining employees 7%
Hiring employees 7%
Dealing with an objectionable supplier 5%
Training employees 5%
Working with family members 2%
Working with a partner 1%

My, how far we’ve come!

How can a businessperson get sued for employment practices? One can hardly count the ways.

Here’s a bracing look back at some tongue-in-cheek questions that appeared in an otherwise substantive survey on management practices that appeared in JCK in 1979. If you don’t know the correct answers, it’s probably a good idea to get a professional evaluation of the employment and management practices at your store.

Question #1: You are the owner of a jewelry store in a small town. Recently, both good customers and concerned employees have informed you that one of your married female employees is dating a single male employee. Which of the following would be the best management decision?

A. Ignore the problem because what employees do on their own time is their own business.

B. Fire the one who’s least important to the store.

C. Call the husband anonymously and tell him what his wife is up to.

D. Talk to the two employees privately and explain that the gossip about them is affecting store business and employee morale.

Question #2: You have openings for two general salespeople. After interviewing all the applicants, you settle on the two you want, a man and a woman, each with three years’ retail sales experience in another field. Jim says he wants $150 per week salary; Sally says $110 per week. You hire them both at their requested salaries. Can the differing pay scales for the same position cause you problems?

A. No, because you told them never to discuss their salaries with anyone.

B. No, because you didn’t set the pay scale. You simply paid them what they asked for.

C. Yes, because it is illegal to pay different rates to equally qualified employees for the same job.

D. Yes, but you can defend your case since Jim is married and has children and therefore should earn more.

Question #3: When interviewing a prospective employee, which of the following questions are you prohibited by law from asking (more than one answer is correct)?

A. “Are you gay?”

B. “Do you plan to have a baby soon?”

C. “What did you like least about your most recent supervisor?”

D. “You’re not Catholic, are you?”

E. “Are you on parole or have you served your full term?”

F. “Just where were your parents born?”

G. “Have you ever been arrested?”

Question #4: Dagwood is an honest, loyal, responsible bookkeeper who has worked for you for several years. You are considering giving him a raise. Which of the following factors should not enter into your consideration?

A. Dagwood’s job performance.

B. Cost of living increases since Dagwood’s last raise.

C. Dagwood’s wife Blondie just had a baby.

D. Dagwood has a reputation as a bookkeeping wizard and he could be attractive to other firms.

Question #5: You have an opportunity to buy a store that fits your expansion plans exactly. There is only one problem: The aging owner of the store will not sell unless you agree to employ him as the store manager. You consider the man incompetent. Which one of the following would not be a viable alternative?

A. Nix the deal.

B. Take the deal but set up store performance goals for the former owner with the option to terminate him if the goals are not met.

C. Go ahead with the deal and let him run the store as he has in the past.

D. Examine his weaknesses and staff the store with people strong in his areas of weakness.

Question #6: You are having a bad day. Your usually short temper is even shorter. You get into an argument with a valued longtime female employee over a relatively minor matter. The argument becomes heated and you end up firing her on the spot. As she leaves, she snaps angrily, “I’ll be back with the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission].” You should:

A. Create a case against her to support the firing.

B. Ignore her threat.

C. Apologize, admit you made a mistake and rehire her.

D. Hire a good lawyer.

Romancing the Stone (or) Selling Romance

Looking to inspire your customers – and boost sales – with the romance and mystique of jewelry? Here’s a recommended reading list provided at the JCK Show in Orlando by Samuel A. Getz, president and CEO of Mayor’s Jewelers in Coral Gables, Fla., and Jay G. Lell, the company’s director of training and development.

The History of Art by H. W. Janson

An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, by Harold Newman

Jewelry Concepts & Technology, by Oppi Untracht

The Jewelry Design Source Book, by Diana Scarisbrick

Jewelry: 7,000 Years, by Hugh Tait

The Master Jewelers, by A. Kenneth Snowman

The Power of Gemstones, by Raymond J. L. Walters

Rings: Symbols of Wealth, Power and Affection, by Diana Scarisbrick

Twentieth Century Jewelry: Art Nouveau to Modern Design, by L. Eleuteri

Understanding Jewellery, by David Bennett and Daniela Mascetti

Association Leadership Wish List

With more than 60 national associations in the jewelry industry, chances are good that at any given time the search is on for a new executive director for at least one organization.

Herb Bridge, co-chairman of Ben Bridge Jeweler in Seattle, who chaired the search committee for a new executive director at the American Gem Society, recently shared the organization’s criteria for the position with JCK.

Though the organization’s hire, Robert Bridel, is already on the job, the job requirements may prove helpful to other organizations that may need to fill similar posts in the future.

  1. A minimum of eight to 10 years in the jewelry industry.

  2. An outgoing, sales-oriented attitude.

  3. Strong writing and communication skills.

  4. Effective public speaking skills.

  5. A well-rounded financial background.

  6. Ability to oversee the creation of a 5- and 10-year business plan.

  7. Ability to work within the financial confines of a not-for-profit organization.

  8. Consistent record of upholding AGS standards of ethical business practices.

  9. Ability to work within the AGS’s board and trustee structure.

  10. Strong decision-making abilities and leadership qualities.

  11. Demonstrated skill in creating positive staff morale and a healthy work environment.

  12. Solid industry relationships.

  13. A thorough understanding of what it takes and means to be an AGS member.

Case the Thief Who’s casing your store

By Robert W. Frank CPP, Vice President,Jewelers’ Security Alliance

It was a beautiful, sunny Friday morning in Montgomery, Ohio, in May of 1997. The retail jewelry store owner had just opened the shop, and was looking forward to the business day ahead.

The store began to fill with customers early. The staff was hard-pressed to avoid neglecting someone. Unknown to the staff, one of the customers actually was a thief thrilled with the delay: it gave her more time to case the store.

As the young, innocent-looking blonde woman waited to be served by a salesperson, she counted employees, memorized the store’s floor plan and made a mental note of everything related to security at the store. No one would have suspected her of being a member of an armed robbery gang.

The next day, two armed men robbed the store. Store employees later told the police how the robbers seemed to know all about the store and where everything was located.

According to the FBI and police, who have been hunting this group for some time, they’re part of a well-known street gang in Los Angeles. Typically, they send the young blonde woman in to case the store. Then, armed with handguns and the vital information she provides, they rob the store the next day. The group then flies back to Los Angeles with its loot and sells it promptly to a waiting fence.

In December, the female accomplice was arrested by the FBI in a Los Angeles suburb. At press time, her fellow gang members still were at large.

Windows of opportunity. The dictionary defines casing as planning with intent to commit a crime. This describes precisely what this young women was doing during her visit to the jewelry store. Her assignment was to learn as much as she could about the targeted store’s security and operating procedures.

She wanted to know, for example, whether there were cameras, whether security personnel were present and how many employees worked at the store. She also tried to locate all entrances and high-value items.

Someone casing a store might also ask to use the bathroom in an effort to look at the rear portion of the store and possibly locate the jeweler’s safe. Posing as a customer, he or she might pretend to be interested in making a purchase while at the same time asking innocent-sounding, security-related questions such as, “How many clerks work at the store?” or “When do you go for lunch?”

Most crimes, especially robberies and burglaries, are preceded by some form of casing. It may take place minutes, hours, days or weeks before the actual crime. Casing may occur continuously over long periods of time if – depending on the target and the mission of the thieves – more extensive information is required.

Jewelers should be on constant alert for signs that they’re being cased. This virtually certain precursor to a criminal act provides an important window of opportunity. It’s when a jeweler can spot the criminal and take appropriate steps such as reporting suspicious activity to the police and gathering potentially useful information.

A New Jersey jeweler, for example, was suspicious of several individuals in his store who did not fit the profile of his regular customers. He wrote down the license plate number for their car, and kept it in his log at the store. Ten days later, five armed men robbed the store at gun point. Using the plate number provided by the jeweler, the police were able to apprehend the robbers.

One thief’s preference. A criminal who specialized in stealing from jewelry stores, with a record of more than 20 arrests, recently was apprehended in Atlanta. At the time of this arrest, police asked him how he chose his targets. The robber told police that he usually cased as many as six stores before finding one he felt comfortable robbing. He liked to steal from stores where employees did not seem especially interested in security. He preferred jewelers who were easily distracted and who provided valuable information when answering questions he asked about store security matters.

During another investigation, the leader of a nationwide armed robbery gang was arrested in New Jersey. He provided the FBI with some very interesting insights into his gang’s methods of robbing jewelry stores. He said he always thoroughly cased all of the stores before the actual robberies. The gang would not rob a store that had a two-way mirror through which someone could observe a robbery on the selling floor and signal the police.

He also looked for a time of day during which a targeted store’s display windows would have a great deal of glare from the sun. This would restrict vision into the store by police or passersby during a robbery. These and other security-related concerns were of vital importance to this gang and could be learned only by casing the targeted stores.

Information supplied by both criminals offers evidence of the importance criminals place on thoroughly casing a store before they rob it. With the possible exception of a deranged person or one acting impulsively under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can just about count on some form of casing prior to a theft. And that’s when you can have the greatest impact in solving or, better yet, preventing this crime.

Safety precautions

for the road.

Anyone who drives with valuable jewelry in the car should remember these safety tips provided by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company:

  • Keep your car in excellent mechanical condition.

  • Carry a phone with you at all times. Have a list of phone numbers and addresses of area police departments in a handy place.

  • When you leave a jewelry store, ask a store employee to watch as you drive away. If someone follows, the employee should call you on your car phone. Call the police immediately.

  • To confirm whether you’re being followed, drive evasively: square the block, change lanes, slow down, turn corners. Regularly check to see if you’re being followed.

  • When you approach your destination and when you leave, spend five minutes driving evasively. Drive slowly through the parking lot.

  • Consider purchasing a tire product that permits you to continue driving after a tire has deflated. Tyron USA (908) 707-1494 offers a “well filler” band which can be fitted to the wheel rim; this holds a tire onto the rim following deflation. Michelin offers a “zero pressure” tire that can be driven on when flat.

  • Consider any car trouble a sign that you’ve been targeted. Act immediately. Call the police and drive to a safe location such as a police station, toll booth or bank.

  • Know where you are: street name or highway and direction in which you’re traveling. If you are being followed and call the police from your car phone, you will need to provide your location.

  • When you call police, state your situation plainly: “I’m carrying valuable merchandise and I believe that I’m about to be the victim of an armed robbery.”

  • Keep your car clean. Keep it free of identifying marks such as decals or stickers. You will be harder to follow if your car is inconspicuous and difficult to identify.

  • Use full service gas stations or credit card payment at the pump. If you must pay inside, take your merchandise with you.

  • As stated in the accompanying article: keep valuables in the trunk, keep inventory records separate from the jewelry, and use a trunk alarm.

Additional security information is available in a video, “Danger on the Road: Traveling with Jewelry” and an accompanying security guide. The video is free to policyholders, and can be purchased for $50 or borrowed for $15. Call (800) 558-6411 for copies.

JCK Business Report Key Stats

De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation’s current estimated share of global market for rough or unpolished diamonds: 70%

CSO’s share of global diamond market five years ago: 80%

Decline in typical retail price of smaller diamonds in past year: 20%

Average increase in overall diamond prices since 1986: 50%

The CSO’s largest sight ever (January 1997): approximately $700 million

CSO’s smallest sight in a decade (February 1998): approximately $250 million

Amount by which rate of increase in number of U.S. millionaires between 1990 and 1995 exceeds the rate of increase in the total U.S. population during that period: 20 times

Number of households whose net worth (excluding value of primary residence) exceeded $1 million in 1996: 4.8 million

Percentage increase in number of households with this net worth between 1992 and 1996: 118%

Percentage of family-owned businesses that fail by the third generation: 88%

Percentage of businesses with sales between $1 and $3 million whose management said balancing work and family is a major part of workplace culture: 58%

Percentage of Fortune 1000 businesses which put a similar priority on work-family balance: 28%

Average number of times a typical mall shopper visited a mall in a month in 1995: 3.3

Average number in 1996: 3.0

Increase in department store spending between 1991 and 1996: 39%

Sales per square foot of selling area in an independent high-end jewelry store in 1996: $909.98

Sales per square foot at an independent mid-range store: $433.33

At an independent store with annual sales under $500,000: $310.00

At a typical jewelry chain store: $758.33

Percentage of high end jewelry store revenues in 1992 that came from watches: 13.3%

Percentage in 1996: 5.2%

Percentage that came from tabletop, gift and silver flatware category in 1992: 5.6%

Percentage from this category in 1996: 3.0%

Size of the collectibles market in 1996: $6.8 billion

Figurines’ share of the collectibles market: 47.7%

Dolls’ share: 17.5%

Ornaments’ share: 3.9%

Music boxes’ share: 1.5%

Retail sales of licensed merchandise in U.S. and Canada in 1997: $73.2 billion

Increase in such sales from previous year: 1%

Drop in high profile entertainment/character segment of licensed merchandise: 3%

Percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) saved by consumers in ’60s and ’70s: 20%

Percentage of the GDP saved in ’90s: 15%

Earnings gap between high school and college graduates in 1979: 33%

Earnings gap between same in 1995: 50%

Number of tons of ore that is mined to produce a single ounce of platinum: 10

Number of tons of ore mined to produce an ounce of gold: 3

Number of tons of ore mined for one carat of rough diamond: 250

Percentage of all rough diamonds that are suitable for gem cutting: 20%

Greatest number of facets on a commercially available diamond: 144

Smallest number of facets: 8

Wal-Mart’s gross margin: 20%

Gross margin at MacFrugal’s (which recently agreed to merge with Consolidated Stores): 43%

Average jewelry store margin: 48.7%

Sources

1,2,3,4 Business Week; 5,6 London diamond brokers; 7,8,9 Marketing Tools; 10,11,12 Business Week Enterprise; 13,14,15 Chain Store Age; 16,17,18,19,20,22,23 Jewelers of America, Cost of Doing Business Survey; 24,25,26,27,28 Find/SVP; 29,30,31 Licensing Letter; 32,33,34,35 Business Week; 36,37 Platinum Guild International; 38,39 Jewelers of America; 40,41 JCK; 42,43 Chain Store Age; 44 Jewelers of America, Cost of Doing Business Survey.

How to Spot Casing

  1. Be suspicious of anyone who acts in a manner that’s inconsistent with your regular customer profile. Do not ignore your instincts or hunches. Given your experience, is there something that does not seem right? Is the customer nervous? Does she avoid making eye contact? Is she dressed in a manner designed to disguise her true appearance? Does she ask to use your bathroom?

  2. Is someone asking questions about opening and closing times, the number of employees, location of high-end merchandise, alarm systems or video cameras? Be suspicious of anyone interested in anything related to your security, regardless of whether the conversation occurs in person or over the phone.

  3. You must have a video system in good operating order and retain the used tapes for at least six weeks before reusing them. Should you become the victim of a crime, the police may be able to identify someone who cased your store long after the event.

  4. Look for individuals or vehicles positioned for an unusual length of time with a line of sight to your store or home. Write down plate numbers and descriptions of suspicious individuals and vehicles as well as the time and date of your observations. Save your notes.

  5. All employees should be trained to know how to react when a suspicious situation occurs. Have a plan. For example: establish a pre-arranged signal with all employees. Arrange for one employee to walk outside when suspicious persons are in the store. That person can copy down license plate numbers, observe accomplices or, if necessary, call police.

  6. It’s important to establish a good relationship with your local police department and to bring your security concerns to their attention. This will encourage a positive response should you have occasion to report a suspicious condition. Report all suspicious activity to the police. If in doubt, call the police.

  7. If an incident progresses beyond casing and a robbery takes place, try to remain calm, do only as instructed, and follow police recommendations not to resist an armed robber.

For additional security information, read the JSA Manual of Jewelry Security, Chapter 2, “Robbery.” Jewelers Security Alliance, 6 E. 45 St., New York NY 10017; (800) 537-0067 or (212) 687-0328; e-mail: JSA@polygon.net.