Letters

WHO WILL SURVIVE?

I read with interest your article entitled “Where Will Consumers Buy Their Jewelry in 1999?” in the May issue of JCK. Every time I see one of these kinds of articles, I have to smile because I think that one of the mistakes commonly made in drawing the conclusions is a gross underestimation of the staying power of the small independent jeweler. My experience as a vendor serving this part of the jewelry distribution system says that the human capital these folks have invested and are investing in their businesses every day more than offsets their lack of financial capital, sophisticated inventory control and management systems and high-visibility locations.

What is the worth to a consumer of the integrity of a businessperson with long-term roots in the community? What is the value of knowledgeable service in an increasingly impersonal world? How better to deal with competition than with a low-overhead operation run by a buyer who has the ability to respond quickly to a market with which he/she is intimately familiar?

These are the kinds of questions that would make me a bit more humble in predicting the demise of this important sector of our trade.

Just before the last recession, I seem to remember a lot of articles drawing some of the same conclusions, concerning the national jewelry chain stores who were to be the big winners…this, of course, right before many of the nationals filed bankruptcy in the tough economic times that followed. Who survived? The independent who then became the darling of the trade until the nationals got back on their feet with the help of our crazy bankruptcy rules that allow management failures to rise again.

I may be wrong…but I am keeping my business right where it is…closely connected with what I believe is still one of the most stable parts of the jewelry business…the small independent jeweler.

Scott J. Sheely

James J. Sheely

Lancaster, Pa.

DIAMOND GRADING VIEW

As a graduate gemologist and the owner of a small, yet growing jewelry store, I’m writing this letter in response to the article “Diamond Grading Reports: Flawless or Imperfect?” There really should be no issue on the subject of diamond grading reports by independent laboratories. Color and clarity grades are subjective and may slightly differ from one experienced grader to the next. That’s why labs have more than one person grade each diamond. Although the labs do make some mistakes on the grading reports they issue, it’s up to jewelers to either disclose any discrepancies with the grading report or to make sure that the diamond is graded correctly.

Any jewelers who sell diamonds with grading reports have an obligation to their customers to make sure that the diamonds they sell correlate with the diamond reports that go with them. If jewelers don’t have the ability to grade the diamonds they sell or if they don’t want to take the time to grade the diamonds, they shouldn’t be in the business.

It seems very simple. Jewelers buy diamonds and sell diamonds. Having the diamonds graded is merely a service provided by a few different independent laboratories. Most jewelers have the choice of which lab to use, meaning they should have their diamonds graded by the lab that makes the fewest mistakes. If they don’t like the service provided, they can use another lab or use no lab at all.

Diamond grading reports can be a tremendous selling aid if used properly by an experienced jeweler. There are few absolutes in life, and diamond grading reports are not an exception.

Chris Griggs, GG

Pacific Valley Gemstones

Monterey, Cal.

IN SEARCH Of MORE HONOR

Kudos for your recent editorial, “Whom to trust?” Trust is the very brick and mortar (albeit crumbling) of the trade and the media continue to enjoy a feeding frenzy when that trust is challenged or tarnished. But we must remember that what serves to warn the consumer of “rip offs” benefits the honorable jeweler. Or should. Many professionals continue to tend their flocks, stand on their reputations and serve the community. I know and talk to those “gems” every day.

But let us face facts: there are now more people in the trade than the available business can support, hence the desperation that so pollutes. The question most likely to be uppermost (or “lowermost”) in some minds is, “How can I get this customer’s dollars first?” Without the supreme luxury of a memorandum society, most could not keep their doors open.

The misleading (“wholesale to the public”) claims omnipresent today force customers to shop. They’re no dummies. “Keystone” is now part of every looker’s vocabulary. Of course we all should want a more honorable industry, much as we all want honorable politicians and government, scandal-free banks, stainless religious leaders and faithful spouses and lovers.

Clearly, in some cases, ethics do not necessarily pay the rent. A well-unified industry response &endash; which you suggest &endash; is a crackerjack idea but akin to hoping government will stop neighborhood crime. All any one person, not we, can do is act responsibly within our community. To paraphrase the old adage, “Charity begins at home,” “Trust begins at home.” With trust, each individual can glisten as a bright facet of what the public perceives as a tarnished trade.

The best training and committee efforts aside, trust and ethics cannot be introduced like a new designer line. They are a by-product of a moral belief system instilled over generations by family, society and life itself. Either ya got it or ya don’t. Hang in there until the deadwood falls, folks.

Benedict Ives

A. Chador & Co.

San Francisco, Cal.

LAWSUIT CLARIFICATION

Your short article in the Upfront section of the June issue on Fred Feldmesser’s lawsuit against Cartier presents the predicament gem dealers face when consigning their gemstones to major retailers.

However, your article incorrectly listed $105,000 as the retail price of Mr. Feldmesser’s Kashmir Sapphire. The $105,000 price is the wholesale price and not the retail price of the ring.

Secondly, the lawsuit which I filed on Mr. Feldmesser’s behalf does not allege that anyone from Cartier’s staff wore the ring during the consignment. The precise language of the lawsuit is that the ring “sustained damage while in [Cartier’s] possession, custody and control, which damage was known to [Cartier] and occurred as a result of mishandling, or after the loan of the ring to a third party.”

Frankly, Mr. Feldmesser does not know how the damage was done, which is one reason why he is pursuing this lawsuit. Perhaps Cartier will offer an explanation.

Andrew M. Fischer

Jason and Fischer

Attorneys at law

Boston, Mass.

AN UNFORTUNATE OMISSION

In receiving the April issue of JCK, I was excited at the prospect of reading your special report on the use of computers in the jewelry industry. As the article states, “the computer has become an essential tool in the daily business life of most U.S. retail jewelers.”

Applications Systems Corp. has been selling and installing computer systems within the industry since 1980. Our 15 years of service, exclusively within the jewelry industry, makes us the most experienced and oldest company selling computers and services to the industry.

Our client list includes some of the top names in the industry, ranging from the small single store retailer to retail chain operations. Our software controls the operations of well over 1,000 jewelry stores within the U.S., including the Caribbean.

I find it appalling that Applications Systems Corp. is not included in the directory of vendors, listed in your special report, supplying software to the industry. We offer three different software packages. One for the small jeweler, one for the multi-store operation and one for the manufacturer and diamond dealer. There is not one other vendor in your directory which offers a separate product to each sector of the industry or has contributed as much to the industry or to the growing use of computers by today’s jeweler.

Barry Kraft

Applications Systems Corp.

Boston, Mass.

JCK regrets the omission of Applications Systems Corp. from the list of software suppliers. The companies invited to submit information for the directory were included on a list supplied to JCK by a reputable authority in the industry. Inadvertently, ASC’s name was not on that list. We trust the information provided by Mr. Kraft will be of value to jewelers who are in the market for new software systems.