Senate Votes Minimum Wage Hike

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to boost the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour recently. The bill also provides small-business tax cuts to help offset the cost of the wage increase. The increase in the minimum wage, the first in 10 years, was approved by a 94–3 vote. The Senate bill will go back to the House of Representatives, which earlier passed a bill with no provision for tax cuts.

Fabrikant Negotiates New Financing Arrangements

Diamond and jewelry wholesaler M. Fabrikant & Sons has negotiated additional financing arrangements with its senior secured lenders, while the company continues to pursue a full range of strategic alternatives, including the sale, refinancing, or reorganization of the firm. Fabrikant said in a statement that it believes its Chapter 11proceedings currently provide the best opportunity to maximize the value of its assets and its business for all stakeholders.

De Beers Sales Fall

De Beers ‘ rough diamond sales totaled $6.15 billion for 2006, down 6 percent from 2005 figures. The company said the decline resulted from “reduced Russian supply available to the DTC and the continued challenging environment in the wholesale market for rough diamonds, where a lack of liquidity, margin pressure, and increased financing costs impacted pipeline demand.” It notes that demand for diamond jewelry was growing steadily and said its retail chain had “an excellent year,” with growth in Japan and “promising” performances in the United States.

Retailers Voice Support for No Dirty Gold

Eleven jewelry retailers announced their support for the No Dirty Gold campaign’s Golden Rules criteria for more socially and environmentally responsible mining, bringing the number of jewelry retailers supporting the criteria to 19. Companies added to the list this year are: Ben Bridge Jeweler , Birks & Mayors , Boscov’s , Brilliant Earth , Commemorative Brands (parent company of Balfour , ArtCarved , and Keystone class ring brands), Leber Jeweler , Fred Meyer /Littman Jewelers , Michaels Jewelers , QVC , TurningPoint , and Wal-Mart . The campaign also added Target Corp. to its “laggards” list, saying it had not made the same commitment as other retailers.