JCK Business Report

New PRICE GUIDE for Estate Jewelry Valuations

Pricing estate jewelry can be tricky, whether you’re trying to put a price tag on dazzling, jewel-encrusted designer pieces or seemingly throwaway plastic costume jewelry.

Companies that buy, sell or appraise estate jewelry might want to take a look at the extensive jewelry auction sales data available to them on the recently released Jewelry Auction Findings CD-ROM.

Prepared by Artfact Inc. of Providence, R.I., the CD-ROM is a compilation of auction data for 122,000 jewelry items in worldwide auctions from 1992 to the present. The purchase price of $695 includes updates for future auction sales in 1998. Updated auction sales data for subsequent years will be available for $595 annually.

The initial copy of Jewelry Auction Findings, launched in late December, provides auction sale price data for jewelry items priced as low as $10 and as high as $25 million, plus 20,000 color photos and full details from auction sales catalogs. In some instances, entries include a complete description, information on condition, provenance, history, bibliography, gem lab certificates and other vital data which might indicate or affect value. The company expects to release future auction sales data two or three business days after prices are released by an auction house.

Stephen J. Abt, III, president and CEO of Artfact, says the company has compiled worldwide auction data for the past eight years for a wide range of high-value personal property items such as fine arts, decorative arts, antiques and jewelry. The jewelry-only CD-ROM was developed in response to requests from jewelry dealers and appraisers.

Abt says the CD-ROM is designed so that computer novices can easily search and sort sales data by virtually any information provided in the original catalog listing – for instance, by size, price range, cut or color of stone, style of the piece, construction materials or technique, designer, maker, model number, serial number range, former owner, country of origin, shape and subject or design motif.

He anticipates that Jewelry Auction Findings will help jewelers keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s selling well so that they can make sound inventory decisions. It could, for instance help jewelers assess sensible purchase prices for jewelry offered at auction, by a bank trust department or estate lawyer, or by a walk-in customer.

A search also could help a jeweler decide that a piece might not sell well in his own region but would find a ready market in another city. “This type of rational pricing data should help provide fluidity for estate jewelry from market to market,” says Abt. “It could also help jewelers take advantage of market disparities.”

Jewelry Auction Findings also is expected to help jewelers document values to customers, using print-outs of comparable jewelry sales. “This protects customers more than anyone else because it documents the appraised value to the insurance company,” he notes.

The CD-ROM can be used on any Macintosh computer or PC using Windows ’95 with a web browser and a CD-ROM drive (preferably 6X or faster). Jewelers can access historic data by using the web browser to search through the CD-ROM drive. A modem allows users to add more recent auction data (or software upgrades); they simply select a search option to pull data from the company’s Internet site.

Design Profile: MATCHING PRODUCT AND DISPLAY

Designer: Pam Levine, founder and president of New York-based Levine Design, which specializes in visual merchandising, packaging and display design.

Client: Stefan Hafner for Bernard Grosz Inc., a New York-based importer of Hafner’s high-end Italian designer jewelry.

Product: “Diamonds in Motion,” a line of diamond necklaces and bracelets with a flexible, springwire design.

Goal: To design a logo and custom jewelry display that represent the “quality, image and unique design of the product.” The display should integrate well with the environment of virtually any upper-end guild store and draw attention to the product.

Target customer: Fine jewelry customer. Bracelets start at $6,000 suggested retail and the necklaces at $12,000.

Design challenge: When the Diamonds in Motion necklace and bracelet were displayed on a traditional design form, customers sometimes thought the jewelry was a neatly-arranged, conventional tennis bracelet and diamond “tennis” necklace.

The designer’s mandate was to draw attention to the fact that Diamonds in Motion is a flexible springwire product, yet also a “fine” line of jewelry. The display’s design should imply that the necklace consistently drapes around the neck in a well-defined circle with the diamonds in front and the clasp in back.

The client also wanted the display to allow viewing of the jewelry from all sides.

Design elements:

Display – The curving frosted resin display, representative of Lalique glass, is intended to suggest an upscale image and a sense of movement. Unlike conventional bust forms, the glass-like display also lets light in, enhancing the sparkle of the diamonds. The glass-like material provides a neutral design element that fits in with virtually any store’s decor.

The flexible quality of Diamonds in Motion jewelry is communicated to customers through the way that jewelry is taken off and placed on the display, which holds up to four necklaces and any number of bracelets. The bracelets flex open to snap onto a groove that runs the length of the piece. Each necklace retains its circular shape as its two ends are flexed in opposite directions to lock the clasp through one of four holes on the display.

Logo – The curve of the logo is designed to suggest the Diamond in Motion marketing theme, and fits neatly on both the display and printed marketing materials. The classic, contemporary typeface is selected to reinforce the marketing message that the jewelry, likewise, is a contemporary interpretation of a classic design.

What made the design a success:

Client – “The display has certainly helped sales by showing what the piece can do,” says Bernard Grosz, who adds that the Diamonds in Motion line has been a very “hot” item for his company. “Because the necklaces stand up in the case, people really stop and look.”

Designer – “What made the design a success is the fact that it really exemplifies the product, showing it off to its best capacity in a highly functional design that integrates well into virtually any retail environment,” says Pam Levine. “The product is exhibited in a way that’s elegant, not intimidating and yet unique enough to stop traffic. People will really stop and notice it, which is really what displays are about.”

Exceptionally successful and creative jewelry display and packaging designs will be featured in upcoming issues. To submit designs for consideration, please send camera-ready art to Jessica Stein Diamond, Senior Editor, JCK Magazine, 201 King of Prussia Road, Radnor, PA 19089.

Quick Tips for Slow Times

Do you ever have days when customers all show up at once, leaving sales associates with some serious thumb-twiddling time during the rest of the day?

To help your store use these lulls productively, Performance Concepts, an Olympia, Wash.-based training and staffing consultancy, has generated this first of several lists of tasks.

  1. Call customers to inform them that their repairs are available for pickup.

  2. Make notes on repair slips of specific merchandise that may be of interest to customers who are picking up their repairs.

  3. Clean counter tops.

  4. Replenish counter supplies (sales slips, invoices, etc.).

  5. Set all the watches. Replace batteries if necessary.

  6. Check all merchandise for worn, faded or dirty tags. Make new tags where necessary.

  7. Clean giftware.

  8. Dust air conditioning vent outlets. (You won’t have to clean giftware as often if your vents are clean.)

  9. Clean telephone receivers and touch tone buttons. (Did you ever notice how nasty they can get?)

  10. 10. Pull copies of old appraisals and remind customers when it’s time for re-evaluation.

  11. Practice selling skills with another associate.

  12. Straighten gold jewelry. (Save the pearl and colored gem jewelry for future slow moments.)

  13. Alphabetize vendor catalogs.

  14. Get updated copies of catalogs not replaced since 1988. Throw out catalogs not replaced since 1978.

  15. Read current and back issues of JCK!

Ad Campaign profile: FOSTERING A FAMILY FEELING

Jeweler: Lacy & Co. Location: El Paso, Tex.

Originator of campaign theme: Diane Allen & Associates, an advertising and public relations firm located in Baton Rouge, La.

Prepared by: Diane Allen & Associates.

Media: El Paso Times newspaper (circulation: 106,000), KTSM-FM (adult contemporary) and KTSM-AM (talk) with a combined audience of 74,600 listeners, KLAQ-FM (adult oriented rock) and KSII-FM (adult contemporary) which have audiences of 72,700 and 48,400, respectively.

Campaign duration: The four print ads in the generation campaign ran once each on four consecutive Sundays beginning with the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The radio ad ran 181 times between Nov. 12 and Dec. 24.

Cost: $18,685 (for creative, production and media placement).

Campaign background: While Lacy & Co. has been in the El Paso market for only five years, the retailer wanted to create awareness of Lacy & Co.’s 50+-year history as a family business in Texas. Ellen Lacy, her parents and her daughter, Stephanie, represent three generations of the same family with a history and current presence in the jewelry business. Ellen also wanted to raise awareness of the fact that she and her husband, Charles Lacy, who also is a jewelry professional, work together.

Campaign objectives:

  • Raise awareness of the store’s considerable history as a family-owned jewelry store to promote feelings of confidence and trust among consumers.

  • Make consumers feel like they’re doing business with people they already know.

  • Stress the store’s tradition of personal service: it’s a direct benefit that customers receive from shopping at the store.

  • Help consumers make the connection between the importance of choosing a jeweler who has generations of experience and integrity and the importance of choosing fine jewelry that will be passed down from generation to generation.

  • Provide a unifying theme for all future advertising that separates and elevates Lacy & Co. from the competition.

Target customer: New customers who are interested in quality jewelry and in a store with integrity and longevity.

Effectiveness: Though results from the image ad campaign can’t be tracked directly, the store did post a 38% sales increase in December while the ads ran. Says company president Ellen Lacy, “I’ve never had people comment on an ad campaign like they did on this one, and it brought new customers into the store who were aware of the fact that we are a family-owned company that’s been in business a long time.”

Percent of store revenues spent on advertising: 7% to 8%

Store revenues: not disclosed – over $1 million

Exceptionally successful and creative jewelry store advertising campaigns will be featured in upcoming issues. To submit your store’s campaign for consideration, please send camera-ready art plus information about the campaign’s impact on store revenues to Jessica Stein Diamond, Senior Editor, JCK Magazine, 201 King of Prussia Road, Radnor, PA 19089.

TOMORROW’S HOT COLOR?

Green, especially lime green, is everywhere in today’s fashion world. It is a color “in full bloom,” in the words of Cynthia Marcusson, owner of Cynthia René Co. in Fallbrook, Calif. For jewelers, she says, it’s best represented by peridot.

And what’s next in color? Marcusson told a full-house seminar at the recent JCK Orlando Show that chrome yellow is now “in bud.” She recommends checking out your stock of yellow sapphire, citrine and lemon quartz. Could be they’ll all be in full bloom before you know it.

You can’t be too careful with over-the-phone charges

It was a nice sale. A little unusual, but everything seemed in order.

A caller from Brooklyn, N.Y., asked to purchase a Rolex watch. The caller explained that the watch was difficult to find. He said he had called Rolex Watch USA, which had given him the name and phone number of this Midwest store.

The jeweler agreed to sell the watch but required verification of the credit card before shipment. The jeweler then called Rolex Watch USA to verify that the watch model was in short supply. The watch company confirmed the fact and also confirmed that it assists callers by providing names of jewelers who sell Rolex watches. The jeweler then called the credit card company and received an authorization number for the sale and verification of the customer’s address.

Armed with that information, the jeweler sent the package on a Monday via the U.S. Postal Service as registered and insured mail. On Friday, the credit card company informed the jeweler that there was fraud involved in the sale because the customer had used a stolen card; the credit card charge would be reversed.

Apparently, after stealing the credit card, the thief had called the credit card company and changed the address for the account. That explains why, when the jeweler called the credit card company to verify the customer’s address, it checked out. Because the jeweler did not have a signed receipt, however, the credit card company would not accept liability.

Would this loss be paid under the store’s Jewelers block policy? No. Most Jewelers block policies do not pay for “voluntary parting” of property due to acceptance of credit cards that are illegally obtained or used. This story has a happy ending, though.

The jeweler wasn’t ready to call it quits. He contacted the Jewelers’ Security Alliance and discussed his options, including the possibility that this was mail fraud. The jeweler then called his local post office, which directed him to a regional post office, which directed him to the post office that corresponded with the destination ZIP code.

Finally, the jeweler reached the Brooklyn postal inspector who said, “I have your watch on my desk!” Deliveries of registered, insured high-value packages to this address had raised suspicions at the Brooklyn post office. The postal inspector was investigating the situation when the jeweler’s package arrived. He returned the package to the jeweler, unopened.

Lessons learned.

  • There is always danger when accepting credit card payment over the phone. Verifying the credit card account and address is an essential step, but it’s not fool-proof.

  • According to Rolex Watch USA, the company generally will provide names of authorized Rolex dealers in the caller’s region. If a caller from outside your region says he or she was referred to your store by Rolex (or any other high-end company, for that matter), take extra precautions.

  • Send the package via first class registered mail. If you discover that fraud is involved in the transaction, contact the postal inspector at the destination ZIP code. As long as you’re using the U.S. Postal Service, the postal inspector can delay delivery if there is sufficient evidence of mail fraud.

  • Of course, never ship a credit card purchase to a post office box.

  • Be prepared to request a form of payment that is less risky for you, such as a money wire to your bank. Post specific instructions for how customers can make such payments next to your phone. If the customer really wants the item, he or she will take the steps necessary to make the purchase.

  • Consider these issues before you agree to accept credit card payment over the phone: (1) If the customer lives outside your normal retail area, why is he or she buying from your store instead of making the purchase closer to home? (2) If the customer lives in the area, does he or she have a reasonable explanation for ordering the item over the phone rather than coming to the store in person? (3) Is the risk of losing this piece worth the sale? Can you afford to lose this one?

Since fraudulent payment by credit card is not covered under most Jewelers Block policies, be prepared with an alternate payment option that is more secure for you. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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

JCK Business Report Key Stats

Millions of dollars worth of jewelry sold by QVC last year: $900

Millions of dollars worth of jewelry sold by iQVC, the company’s new Internet sales site in December alone: $5

Millions of dollars worth of gold jewelry sold during a special Saturday promotion in January: $27

Number of umbrellas with Monet’s “Waterlillies” on them that sold at $31 each during three minutes of QVC’s coverage of souvenir merchandise from a Claude Monet exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum: 600

Number of copies of the show’s $45 catalog that sold in four minutes on QVC: 500

Percentage of jewelers who will stage a watch “event” this year: 18%

Percentage of jewelers who carry pens: 58%

Average percentage of total volume pens account for with these jewelers: 1%

Percentage of jewelers using a computer for inventory control: 92%

Percentage using one for jewelry design: 2%

Number of articles about computers that were published in JCK in 1995: 42

Number of articles about computers that were published in JCK in 1980: 3

Percentage of U.S. small businesses that have Internet access: 32%

Percentage that are planning to link up in 1998: 10%

Percentage of small businesses using the Internet that have a web site: 27%

Percentage of small businesses using the Internet that use it to purchase business products and services: 40%

Percentage of those who surf the Internet who are men: 65%

Dollar value of purchases made through the Internet in 1997: $2.4 billion

Dollar value of purchases made through catalogs and other direct mail firms last year: $53 billion

Overall retail spending for the year: $1.9 trillion

Percentage of all colored stone jewelry purchased in final quarter of 1997 that contained diamonds: 19%

Percentage of all colored stone jewelry purchased in the same period of 1996 that contained diamonds: 7%

Percentage of colored stone jewelry bought in final quarter of 1997 that contained emeralds: 7%

Percentage containing emeralds for same period in 1996: 24%

Chance that both partners in a marriage will survive to their 50th anniversary, compared to the beginning of this century: 3.25 times higher

Median age of men at marriage: 24.5

Median age of women at marriage: 26.9

Divorce rate per 1,000 married women ages 15 and older in 1996: 19.5

Total number of divorces granted in 1996: 1,150,000

For jewelry stores with revenues over $1.5 million, percentage of total revenues coming from diamond jewelry: 27%

For jewelry stores with revenues under $500,000, percentage of total revenues coming from diamond jewelry: 22%

For jewelry stores with revenues over $1.5 million, percentage of total revenues coming from watches: 7%

For jewelry stores with revenues under $500,000, percentage of total revenues coming from watches: 4%

Number of pearls typically sorted through to assemble a high quality 47-pearl necklace: 10,000

Number of oyster hours needed to grow the cultured pearls that make up that high quality strand: 800,000

March Key Stats Sources

1,2,3 QVC; 4,5 The New York Times; 6,7,8,9,10, JCK Retail Panel; 11,12 JCK Editorial Index; 13,14,15,16 American City Business Journals; 17,18,19,20 Kiplinger’s Washington Letter; 21,22,23,24 Chilton Research Services; 25,26,27 MetLife Statistical Bulletin; 28,29 National Center for Health Statistics; 30,31,32,33 Jewelers of America Cost of Doing Business Survey; 34,35 Cultured Pearl Information Center.

ROCK SAVVY?

By Gary Roskin, GG, FGA, Gemstone Editor

Whether you’re stumped by precious stones or a gem expert you’ll enjoy mulling over the following quiz. Each multiple choice question has one correct answer. It’s up to you to find it.

  1. The standard diamond tester pen (a thermal conductometer) will respond “diamond” to what five “gems”? a. Natural diamond, synthetic colorless sapphire, moissanite, benitoite and goshenite.b. Natural and synthetic diamond, natural and synthetic colorless sapphire and cubic zirconia.c. Natural and synthetic diamond, natural and synthetic colorless sapphire and moissanite. d. Natural diamond, synthetic colorless sapphire, moissanite, benitoite and leaverite.

  2. If you see rainbow colors in a diamond’s fracture, this strongly indicates: a. That the fracture is filled, showing the flash effect colors.b. That the fracture is not filled and it’s showing natural iridescence.c. That the diamond is synthetic. d. That the diamond is Canadian.

  3. If you wipe dust off a diamond without washing the diamond first, will you scratch the surface of the diamond?a. Absolutely. You should always wash a diamond first, so it won’t get scratched by dust.b. Sometimes. If you rub hard enough, you can scratch the diamond.c. No. Only a diamond can scratch another diamond. d. Yes, but only if there is a lot of dust.

  4. Can you identify diffusion treatment of a sapphire without immersing the gem in methylene iodide (3.32 liquid)?a. Yes, it might be possible using dark field illumination and a Kleenex.b. Yes, by checking for strong blue ultraviolet fluorescence under a black light.c. No. You can only tell diffusion treatment by immersing the stone in 3.32 liquid. d. Yes, by looking at the surface of the sapphire under strong overhead lighting.

  5. Is it really possible to have a “Flawless” grade diamond?a. Absolutely not. There’s no such thing as a Flawless diamond.b. Yes, but graded only under 20X magnification.c. No. The best grade a diamond can get is Internally Flawless (I.F.). d. Yes. There is a Flawless grade and there are Flawless diamonds.

  6. Is it true that most cultured pearls are bleached?a. Yes. The conchiolin layer in most drilled cultured pearls is bleached with hydrogen peroxide.b. Yes. The nacre layer is bleached with hydrogen peroxide.c. Yes. All cultured pearls are bleached, whether they’re drilled or not. d. Yes. The conchiolin layer only in drilled cultured pearls is bleached with Clorox.

  7. If diamonds are the hardest gem, can a diamond be broken?a. No. Diamonds are the hardest gem and cannot be broken.b. No. Diamonds cannot be broken. Also, they’re not the hardest gemstone.c. Yes. But hardness is not the same as toughness. d. Yes. But only Superman can break a diamond.

  8. If you look at a gemstone and see rounded facet junctions, does this prove that the gemstone is glass?a. No. Softer gems polished with a slurry of polishing compound can have rounded junctions.b. No. Diamonds can often have rounded facet junctions, especially if the diamond is mounted in a ring.c. Yes. Only glass can have rounded facet junctions. d. No. All imitation gems have rounded facet junctions.

  9. Is it true that sapphire is the same gemstone as ruby, just a different color?a. No. This is bogus information.b. Yes. Both are corundum, Al2O3.c. Yes. Both are beryls, Be3Al2Si6O18. d. No. But since everyone says so, it’s okay to use it in a sales pitch.

  10. Is “red emerald” really an emerald?a. Yes. Emeralds can be both red and green.b. No. “Red emerald” is actually a ruby. Emeralds are green only.c. No. “Red emerald” is actually red beryl. Emeralds are green only. d. No. “Red emerald” is not related in any way to real emeralds.

  11. Is jadeite tougher than diamond?a. Yes. Due to its interlocking crystal structure, it is more difficult to break.b. No. There are no gemstones that are tougher than diamonds.c. No. Cubic zirconia is tougher, but jadeite is not. d. No. Due to its interlocking crystal structure, jadeite splinters relatively easily.

  12. Gemology answer key

Buying Trends: INDEPENDENTS GAIN, SO DO UNIT PRICES

Customers sure are interesting. They say they turn to independent jewelers for professionalism and integrity, yet they ring up the bulk of their jewelry purchases elsewhere.

Source: Chilton Research Services surveys on jewelry buying behavior during final quarters of 1996 and 1997.

“Buying Trends: INDEPENDENTS GAIN, SO DO UNIT PRICES”

“Customers sure are interesting. They say they turn to independent jewelers for professionalism and integrity, yet they ring up the bulk of their jewelry purchases elsewhere.”

Source: Chilton Research Services surveys on jewelry buying behavior during final quarters of 1996 and 1997.

Where consumers say they would buy jewelry when “a primary concern in selecting the source is professionalism – namely honesty and integrity” and where they actually buy:

October/November/December 1996

Type of outlet % of consumers who say they’d buy jewelry at this outlet because of its honesty and integrity % of consumers who bought at this outlet
Independent jeweler 48.50% 2.10%
Department store 13.3 24.7
Chain jewelry store 21.5 33.2

October/November/December 1997

Type of outlet % of consumers who say they’d buy jewelry at this outlet because of its honesty and integrity % of consumers who bought at this outlet
Independent jeweler 44.60% 12.00%
Department store 11.7 17.3

Final three months of
1997 1996
“Meanwhile, the robust economy in 1997 translated into a modest shift toward more expensive jewelry.”
% of consumer jewelry purchases retailing for under $100 33.50% 46.00%
“for $501 to $2,000” 8.7 6.2
for $101 to $500 38.1 32.4
“for $2,001 and up” 4.6 4.4