Pearls: Autore Gets Fired Up, Shane Co. Commits to Japan



All You Need Is Lava

From the Fire & Ice collection by Australian pearl jeweler Autore comes an 18k gold and titanium (favored for its light weight) pendant necklace inspired by molten hot lava. A dozen round 11 mm–14 mm Tahitian pearls are complemented by a 0.06 ct. orange sapphire, 0.43 ct. t.w. colorless diamonds, 3.18 cts. t.w. natural uncut diamonds, 18.25 cts. t.w. black diamonds, and a 3.65 ct. Australian black opal. The suggested retail price is $75,000. (Autore, West Hollywood, Calif.; 310-860-2680; pearlautore.com.au)

Lustrous Relief Efforts

Tom Shane’s recent pearl promotion was one part philanthropy and one part business savvy. The owner of Shane Co., with 20 stores in 13 states, offered to donate 10 percent of all cultured pearl sales from March 21 to April 17 to relief efforts benefiting Japanese survivors of the Great Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami; 50 percent will go to the Red Cross, and the remaining sum will be divided among other organizations.

Tom Shane sorting pearls in Japan

“The need to rebuild parts of Japan is real and great, and so many are suffering so much,” says Shane. He was overseas in Bangkok buying sapphires when the disaster struck; within 24 hours, he helped record a new radio ad alerting customers of his charitable effort.

“Tom spends a third of his life in Asia,” says Price Blanchard, Shane Co.’s executive vice president of merchandising and marketing.?While pearls constitute a relatively small part of the stores’ business, Shane buys the majority of his pearls from Japanese farmers and hopes the effort will translate into increased pearl jewelry sales, thereby supporting the Japanese economy.

“Our thinking was that making something Japanese into the vehicle for the donations would reinforce the fact that we do, indeed, buy from the pearl farmers,” Shane says.

At press time, more than $24,000 had been raised. In addition to once-daily radio ads, Shane Co. updates customers on the aid effort on Twitter and its Facebook fan page, as well as by email and ­in-store sign­age. Preliminary feedback—from as far away as the affected areas—confirms that people have taken notice.

“Yesterday I got an email from a gentleman in Japan thanking us for doing what we are doing,” Blanchard says. “We would love for other retailers to join us in this effort.”