New York State Gov. David Paterson proposed a sales tax on luxury items, including jewelry. Under the proposal, those purchasing jewelry in excess of $20,000 would pay a 5 percent sales tax, according to media reports.

Wise Jewelers, Mount Vernon, Ohio, founded in 1828 and considered Ohio’s oldest jeweler, will close. Owners Brian and Jennifer McNamara said the tough economy and high gold prices are among the reasons.

Sonny’s Diamonds & Jewelry in Denver is shutting its doors after nearly 30 years in business. The store’s lease is ending, and, unable to find a suitable new location, the owners decided to close, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

Royal Asscher is launching a charity project called Star of Africa, which aims to improve infrastructure in Sierra Leone by creating funding for education and self-sufficiency programs. Lita Asscher said the project will focus on providing health, education, and economic stability.

QVC will lay off 900 employees over the next 14 months. The West Chester, Pa., company said it would add 200 new positions, for a net reduction of approximately 700 positions, 5.8 percent of its U.S. workforce.

The second GIA Gemological Research Conference originally scheduled for Aug. 21–23, has been canceled due to the downturn in the global economy, organizers said on the conference Web site.

Citing difficult market conditions, upscale Swiss watch brand Maurice Lacroix made significant changes in its U.S. operation last October. U.S. president Randi Shinske, director of marketing Fran Pennella, and others at the brand’s U.S. office at Hackensack, N.J., were let go.

Sally Morrison, director of the Diamond Information Center, was honored at the 12th annual Treatment Action Group Research in Action Awards, held at the Astor Center in New York City. On hand at the Dec. 14 event to present Morrison with her award was actress, activist, and friend Julianne Moore.

Fortunoff‘s new owners announced plans to move its Manhattan location to the Lord & Taylor flagship at Fifth Avenue and 39th Street, the New York Post reports. The new boutique, with its own separate doorway on Fifth Avenue, is due to open this month. RDC Equity Partners, which owns Lord & Taylor, purchased the Fortunoff chain last March.

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