People

WILLIAM S. PRESTON JR., 1919-1997: AN APPRECIATION

When Bill Preston died on Dec. 7, the jewelry world lost one of its most distinguished citizens. He leaves behind many important milestones but none is more important than his work to revise the Federal Trade Commission Guidelines for the Jewelry Industry. His efforts over some five to six years forced the industry to examine its own ethics and honesty – and to take sizable steps to improve both.

These improvements go all the way from open discussion about gemstone treatments to truthful quality marking of precious metals to honest representation of a diamond’s 4 C’s – particularly in total-weight goods. They benefit everyone who makes a living in the jewelry business. More importantly, they benefit every consumer who buys jewelry.

Bill Preston, in a way no other person ever has, made the jewelry industry accountable for its own honesty. He gave it the confidence to do the right thing.

Not everyone bought his crusade, of course. We still have our crooks and those who live by taking ethical shortcuts. But enough followed Bill’s lead to bring great change to our industry. It’s hard to remember that as recently as 20 years ago, most gemstone dealers flatly denied that almost all emeralds are oiled, almost all rubies are heat-treated, almost all cultured pearls are dyed and it was common enough to sell perfect, blue-white diamonds.

The debate on revision of the FTC Guides changed all that. Ironically, by the time the revisions finally came out in 1996, the debate had been over for almost a decade. This was so because of Bill Preston’s crusade, begun in 1979 when he was chosen to lead the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s drive for an updating of the Guides.

Bill’s goals were relatively modest. All he really wanted to do was get the industry to adhere to guidelines the FTC laid down in 1957 and update them to cover technical advances since then. Those Guides already called for disclosure of gemstone treatments and for proper representation of qualities, but were largely ignored.

When Bill took on this job, he figured it would be relatively easy and take a year or so to complete. But when he took his case to the industry – largely the supplier end – he quickly learned otherwise. Very soon he was branded as some sort of do-good vigilante who wanted to upset “industry traditions” and “standard trade practice.” Some of the biggest complaints came from emerald dealers who saw no need to disclose oiling and manufacturers of total-weight diamond pieces who insisted that it was fair for an item listed as “approximately 1 ct. total weight” to actually range from 0.95 ct. to 1.05 cts.

Bill agonized over his encounters with his critics. At the height of his campaign, we talked regularly on the phone. At times, we talked once a week; at times, almost daily. Bill’s deep concern was to raise the industry’s ethical standards without making it impossible for a dealer or manufacturer to make a decent profit. He just wanted to find a fair balance between the needs of the industry and those of the consumer. He was hurt that some suppliers tried to turn a professional investigation into a personal vendetta.

Because Bill had the ability to bend on the little details while staying rock solid in his support of issues of principle, he finally won his way. An industry that had largely ignored the FTC Guides began to pay attention to them and, by and large, obey them. The intensity of the debate was cathartic; it cleaned the jewelry industry both physically and ethically.

This achievement alone would be monument enough for one man’s life. But it was only one of many for Bill Preston. His list of professional honors and accomplishments is staggering: president of what was then Retail Jewelers of America; president of the American Gem Society and recipient of the coveted Shipley Award; president of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

His personal life was equally full of commitment and honor: chairman of the Burlington Traffic Committee (in his home town of Burlington, Vt.); chairman of the Burlington Historic Sites Committee; trustee/director of the Burlington Savings Bank; president of the Burlington Rotary Club and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce; past Commodore of the Lake Champlain Yacht Club. The list goes on and on.

There was military service, too. Bill enlisted in the infantry in 1942 and rose to the rank of major, second in command of his battalion in the 100th Infantry Division. But most of all there was family – his wife for 54 years, Janet; son Sandy, who followed him into the family jewelry business (sadly the business failed before Bill “retired” for the last time though Sandy continued with his own firm); daughter Suzanne, a professor of African Art History at Harvard; daughter Betsy, with various business interests; and son Wright, a banking executive. They and his grandchildren were, as the family recalled in their annual Christmas letter, Bill’s “pride and joy.”

A local newspaper had this to say about Bill Preston after his death. “Known for his determination, energy, honor, sense of fairness, sense of humor, love of trout fishing, love of life and courage in the face of difficulty, he will be greatly missed by his family, friends and acquaintances.”

Truly he will be. – George Holmes

APPOINTMENTS

Neiman Marcus appointed Steve Magner to head The Galleries of Neiman Marcus, a new concept announced last October. These smaller-format, 10,000- to 15,000-sq.-ft. stores will offer precious jewelry, gifts and home accessories. The first test unit is scheduled to open in Beachwood Place outside Cleveland next fall. Magner currently is vice president/divisional merchandise manager of precious jewelry for Neiman Marcus and will keep this responsibility.

L. Richard “Rick” Kugelman was promoted to executive vice president of the U. S. divisions of Goebel of North America. He will play an expanded role in strategic planning and corporate development.

Gallery of Diamonds in Costa Mesa, Cal., announced that Terry Ogles has joined the firm as a custom designer.

The Home Shopping Network appointed Robert J. Rosenblatt as executive vice president and chief financial officer and David T. Aldridge as chief information officer. Rosenblatt joins Home Shopping from Bloomingdale’s, a division of Federated Department Stores, where he was senior vice president and chief financial officer. Aldridge was vice president and chief information officer of PHH Corp., a mobility services organization.

Sallyann Whittingham was named marketing manager of Brink’s Bangkok office. She has been in the firm’s New York office for the past three years. Krista Oliver was named a Brink’s sales executive. Previously she was in customer service. Brink’s also announced the opening of two new locations, in Springfield, Ill., and Lafayette, La.

Rose Marie Bravo, worldwide chief executive of British luxury goods company Burberrys Limited, was named to Tiffany & Co.’s board of directors. Bravo, formerly the president of Saks Fifth Avenue and the chair and CEO of I. Magnin, also sits on the board of the National Italian American Foundation and the advisory boards of both the Fashion Group International and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

CARTIER’S RALPH DESTINO NAMED TO TOP GIA POST

Ralph Destino, chairman of Cartier Inc., was elected executive chairman of the Gemological Institute of America. He succeeds Frank H. Maier Jr., who has held the post for the past five years and now becomes vice chairman. Richard T. Liddicoat continues as chairman.

Destino has been a GIA governor since 1992. He is beginning his 25th year with the Cartier group, having served previously as president of Cartier (Far East) Ltd. and as president of Cartier Inc.

Contests

Contests announce entry deadlines

The American Pearl Company announced entries for the Fourth Annual Vision Award Pearl Jewelry Design Competition are due by May 8. Awards include cash prizes and gift certificates from the company. Judging and award presentations will take place at The JCK Show in Las Vegas in June. For information and entry forms, contact Anne Smith at American Pearl, (615) 350-6600.

Lapidary artists are invited to enter the annual American Gem Trade Association Cutting Edge Award Competition. Entry deadline is March 27. The competition is open to gemstones of natural origin which have been cut by a professional lapidary artist. A maximum of 18 lapidaries will be honored in the following categories: faceting, carving, combination, pairs and suites, objects of art and a new classic gemstone division. For entry forms, call (800) 972-1162.

Entries for the 1998 MIDORA Design Award are due at the Leipzig Fair by Feb. 27. Designs should be submitted initially as two-dimensional presentations in A4 format. They will be judged on interpretation of the theme – which is “Jewelry meets Nature” – as well as form, effect and execution of the pieces. Contact Leipzig Fair, MIDORA Project Coordination, P.O. Box 100 720, D-04007 Leipzig, Germany.

GIA online debuts

The Gemological Institute of America announced GIA Online, the successor to GIA-Net. James Marker, GIA Online System Operator, says it gives distance education students immediate feedback when they submit course questionnaires. If they have trouble with a question, the system tells them what course material to review or to contact a GIA instructor for one-on-one instruction. Instructors are readily available via e-mail or phone. GIA staff also can use special databases to monitor progress of on-line students.

GIA Online offers message forums and on-line chat, a searchable database of job opportunities, new GIA press releases and an on-line GIA Alumni Association membership roster. A series of chats about industry-related subjects was scheduled to start last month.

Access to the GIA Online system is complimentary. The address is giaonline.gia.edu; those without Internet access can reach it via modem at (760) 421-4041.

HRD ON INTERNET

The Diamond High Council (HRD) recently launched its website on the Internet. The address is www.diamonds.be. It offers:

  • Information on how to buy diamonds in or from Antwerp.

  • Announcements of local and foreign Belgian diamond events; Antwerp diamond conferences; gemological conferences; and trade fairs where Antwerp will be represented.

  • A statistical update on Belgian diamond imports and exports.

  • An overview of HRD services, with information on training, certification, public relations, publications, promotional materials, and a map of the “Antwerp diamond square mile.”

OTHER NEW WEB SITES

  • Mervis Diamond Importers designed its new site, e-diamonds.com, to provide customers with the convenience of buying diamonds on-line. It lists low-priced quality diamonds in a variety of shapes and weights. It is targeted for customers in the Washington metropolitan area who are familiar with the company’s decade-long radio advertising campaign, “Nobody pays retail anymore, why should you?” Mervis Diamond Importers has locations in downtown Washington, D.C., Tysons Corner, Va., and Rockville, Md.

  • The Outlet Mall Network’s new on-line site, located at www.theoutletmall.com, offers name-brand products at discount prices. A list of the site’s manufacturers includes Bali, Bell South, Black & Decker, Casio, Hitachi, Oster/Sunbeam, Panasonic and Regal/Melitta. OMNI designed the site to complement a cable show with a shopping club format scheduled for launch early this year. The television show, “The Outlet Mall Network,” will air six hours a day on different stations in different markets each Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Supplier News

Foy To Start New Jewelry Company

Preston Foy is launching Allure Designs Limited, a new jewelry company in Bucyrus, Ohio. Foy was national sales manager for Stuller Settings for four years before joining De Beers’ Diamond Promotion Service. He was with DPS for 10 years, most recently as national director.

Allure will offer platinum, gold and diamond jewelry priced from $200 to $500. Foy’s partners, Val Fawley and Mike Romanoff, field-tested the line throughout 1997 through their own company, Val Castings. Foy says the line is designed to offer retailers fashion-forward styles at prices that translate into healthy margins.

Allure Designs Limited, 106 E. Rensselaer St., Bucyrus, OH 44820; (888) 221-3365.

Yves Lothé Opens two Wholesale Showrooms

Yves Lothé held dual grand opening celebrations on Dec. 1. for its two U.S. wholesale showrooms on Newbury Street in Boston and Fifth Avenue in New York. Both showrooms feature the firm’s five main collections, made in Norway and the U.S.:

  • The Classic – a series of bracelets, necklaces and brooches inspired by traditional symbolism and historic themes set with precious stones.

  • The Contemporary Bracelet – gold bracelets woven in the fashion of Europe’s ancient goldsmiths.

  • The Legacy – coins, stamps and motifs of first millennium Europe, integrated into contemporary themes and settings.

  • The Four Seasons – the Japanese cherry tree branch, a symbol of the seasons of nature, rendered in platinum and pink, yellow and red gold.

  • The Flora de Astrology – Flowers of the Zodiac, reproduced as brooches in shades of 18 and 22k gold, with colored diamonds sprinkled to look like drops of morning dew.

The firm also plans to introduce lines of women’s leather and fur coats and jackets, as well as perfume.

Both stores are by appointment only. Yves Lothé, 38 Newbury St., Ste. 601, Boston, MA 02116; (617) 266-7200, fax (617) 266-7737. 680 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1705, New York, NY 10019; (212) 265-8833, fax (212) 265-6782.

Leslie’s Issues

Calendars

Leslie’s, a leading importer of gold jewelry located in Greenwich, Conn., issued its annual calendar to retailers. The calendar, metallic gold in color, features one-month-per-page layout. To receive one, call (800) 221-2628.

Associations

IJO ADDS 13 LINES

The five jewelers who made up the current “Buyers’ Review” committee for the Independent Jewelers Organization accepted a record 13 new manufacturers’ lines to be included in IJO’s semi-annual shows.

Traditionally, IJO invites a panel of its retail members to select new show exhibitors. “It’s always been [our] policy to have the members themselves make all the decisions on which suppliers serve the group,” said Mary Moses, Buying Group Director.

The new additions to the buying group are: Arzy Co., Los Angeles; CKC, Scotch Plains, N.Y.; Croton Watch Co., New York City; W. G. Ellercamp, Peterborough, N.H.; Robert S. Fisher, Newark, N.J.; Fuller Fine Jewelry, Pawtucket, R.I.; Kingstar, New York City; Klein Noble Ardian, Rockville Center, N.Y; Harry LeBeau, Philadelphia; Nancy B, Culver City, Cal.; Sidka, New York City; Alvin I. Solomon Co., North Hollywood, Cal.; and David Stern Designs, Boca Raton, Fla.

All 13 will exhibit at IJO’s spring show in Palm Springs, Cal., Feb. 21-26.

NEW YORK JEWELERS help MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION

The Consolidated Jewelers Association of Greater New York turned its 41st annual banquet into a fund-raiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York, a group that helps finance wishes made by terminally ill children.

Donations were made to the Harry Wexler Memorial Fund – established in memory of the association’s founder and first president, Harry Wexler – and in memory of Ben Kaiser, the late chairman of Baume & Mercier, who died last year. To mark the event, a commemorative plaque was given to Steven Kaiser, his son, who now heads the company.

In a talk at the event, Alvin Mintz,

president of the association, gave special praise to Mark Offenberg and Ellis Sion for their work for the association’s “anti-deceptive discounting campaign.”

Barbara Goldstein, the association’s administrator, was awarded a gift for her work on behalf of the group.

JIC SPREADS THE JEWELRY WORD

The Jewelry Information Center and its energetic president, Lynn Ramsey, went here, there and everywhere in the final quarter of 1997 to encourage jewelry buying, then entered the new year by launching a campaign to raise consumer interest in colored gemstones.

Summing up this burst of activity, Ramsey said, “In addition to exciting consumers about fine jewelry, we want to make them more confident about buying it.”

Among JIC’s fall activities and achievements:

  • A 60-second radio spot was distributed nationally to 1,500 stations as part of National Consumers Week. The key message: shop at a professional, well-established jeweler.

  • JIC-generated stories on fall trends and careers in the jewelry industry were distributed to 1,500 Associated Press member newspapers, Reuters international news service ran JIC tips on jewelry buying and Copley News Service, reaching 1,000 newspapers, ran a JIC jewelry-trends story.

  • JIC coordinated industry response to an NBC Dateline episode critical of jewelers’ lack of knowledge about fracture-filled gemstones.

  • JIC co-hosted with the Cultured Pearl Information Center a lunch for 60 consumer press editors.

  • Lynn Ramsey gave interviews on more than 20 TV and radio stations around the country with tips on buying fine jewelry. She also gave personal interviews to media in Cleveland and St. Louis. “As a part of a long-range plan, we hope to visit at least two or three cities a year to get better acquainted with both the press and the trade,” she said.

  • In December, the JIC ran a full page in Elle magazine with seven reasons why consumers think fine jewelry is so special.

JIC then kicked off the new year with a new monthly newspaper column called “A World of Gems,” which is being distributed to about 6,000 papers nation-wide. “Consumer education is at the top of our priority list,” said Ramsey. “There’s a growing need for consumer information on what to look for in quality gemstones and how to care for them.”

The new column will highlight interesting jewelry. It can be sponsored by a local jewelry advertiser or tied to a promotion on birthstones or other colored gemstone topics.

FEINBERG JOINS AGS BOARD

The American Gem Society appointed Marcee M. Feinberg, marketing director of Lazare Kaplan Inc.’s U.S. operations, to its board of directors. A 23-year veteran of the jewelry industry, she is a registered AGS supplier and serves on both its conclave and supplier committees. She has taught classes at its annual conclave and is a past president of the New York/New Jersey AGS Guild.

Appraisal groups plan conference

Three national appraisal organizations have signed an agreement to hold a joint conference in the year 2000.

The American Society of Appraisers, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and the Appraisal Institute have tentatively scheduled the event for July 18-23, 2000, in San Diego, Cal. The conference will be titled “Valuation 2000.”

American Society of Appraisers, P.O. Box 17265, Washington, DC 20041-0265; (800) ASA-VALU or (703) 478-2228, fax (703) 742-8471.

Trade shows

Atlanta Show stresses Education

In response to requests for a more practical, business-oriented event, The Atlanta Jewelry Show will offer three days of educational seminars March 1-3 at Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Centre. The show is sponsored by the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association.

Ron Laughlin of Leadership Resource will tell how to turn first-time buyers into long-term customers; David Geller will talk about making your repair and custom design departments profitable; and Shane Decker will deliver the second part of a three-part series on how to create sales from scratch.

For more information, call (404) 634-3434.

IFBS Previews Fall Lines In March

International Fashion Boutique Show will showcase early fall collections at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center March 21-24. Many leading and lesser-known designers will be unveiling new lines; more than 900 collections of women’s apparel, accessories, jewelry and footwear will be shown.

Goods-to-Go, formerly called Jewelry Showcase, is one of the show’s special sections. It highlights jewelry, accessories, gift items and beads.

To exhibit, call (212) 594-0880, (800) 869-7469 or (617) 964-5100. To attend, call (800) 869-7469 or (617) 964-5100. IFBS, 485 Seventh Ave., Ste. 1400, New York, NY 10018; http://boutiqueshow.com.

GlobalShop Heads For Chicago

GlobalShop, with more than 800 exhibits, will be held at Chicago’s McCormick Place on March 28-30. It offers retailers and brand marketers the latest in retail store design, creative fixturing, construction materials and visual merchandising. Scheduled speakers will include leading retail experts and business forecasters.

GlobalShop combines four separate shows: The Store Fixturing Show (sponsored by the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers), The Visual Merchandising Show (sponsored by the National Association of Display Industries), The Retail Operations & Construction Expo; and The Exhibit Ideas Show (sponsored by Exhibit Builder magazine).

Contact Mary Schafer, Fleishman-Hillard, (404) 659-4446 ext. 112, or (800) 646-0091; www.globalshop98.com.

Foreign Shows

Ambiente-International Frankfurt Consumer Goods Fair, to be held Feb. 14-18, is fully booked. Some 5,040 companies from 80 countries will occupy approximately 300,000 square meters of space on 27 exhibition hall floors at the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre in Frankfurt am Main.

There actually are three trade fairs. Tavola & Cucina includes Set Table with 655 exhibitors, Kitchen and Housewares plus Gourmet Shop with 875, and Table Decor and Accessories with 235. Präsent & Carat is divided into Anthologie Präsent plus Pipehouse with 1,234 exhibitors, Carat with 452 and Passage with 770. Set in its own building, Domus & Lumina includes Interior Design with 165 exhibitors, Classic Interior with Lumina Classic with 213, Country Home with 209 and Pictures and Frames with 226.

Ambiente, open to the trade only, is expected to attract 120,000 trade visitors from 130 countries. Ambiente Team, (+49) 69 7575-6460, fax (+49) 69 7575-6608.

The 21st Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair hopes to benefit from the flotation of the baht and the fact that 1998 is “Amazing Thailand” year. The fair, to be held March 14-17 at Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, will feature gold and silver jewelry, gem-set jewelry, rough and loose cut stones, precious metals, jewelry boxes, equipment, tools, machinery and trade publications. Department of Export Promotion, 22/77 Rachadapisek Rd., Bangkok 10900, Thailand; (662) 511 5066-77 ext. 300, fax (662) 512 2670; e-mail tfdep@mocnet.moc.go.th or pimpaa@mozart.inet.co.th; www.thaitrade.com.

The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition will house the 2nd Hong Kong Watch & Clock Festival ’98 from March 5 to 8. It will be held concurrently with Hong Kong Spring Festival ’98, where visitors may see exhibits of executive gifts, silverware, pottery, woodcraft, antiques and crystalware. Contact Cynthia Keng or Franky Leung at (852) 25116077, fax (852) 26075855, e-mail baap@netvigator.com.

HK Jewelry Manufacturers’ Exhibition ’97 gathered 141 local exhibitors at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Dec. 4-7. The show offered many varieties of precious metal gem-set jewelry. There were three seminars aimed at professionalism.

Macef Autumn ’97 beat all records for its previous September shows, with 3,251 exhibitors in 120,499 square meters of exhibition space. Held Sept. 5-8 at the Fiera Milano Fairgrounds, Milan, Italy, it attracted 81,208 visitors. One reason for the show’s success was the costume jewellery show, Bijoux ’97, which occupied 2,717 square meters of exhibition space. Macef’s next show, Macef Spring ’98, will be held Feb. 6-9. (02) 485 50 204, fax (02) 480 04 423.