Some Rules Make Sense, Others May Change

No, you haven’t developed a sudden brain stem malfunction. The headline is upside down (and I promise you — just this once!).

It’s my way of telling you that, as the new editor in chief of JCK, I want to reexamine all the rules. My children love a book called The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Ridiculous Stories, in which the authors put The End at the beginning, the Contents page at the back, and otherwise wreak havoc with all the rules of book publishing. It’s a fantastic book for teaching children why some rules do make sense. The bulk of the book, however, features rewritten versions of the traditional fairy tales to teach children that some rules, in fact, may be silly and/or just no longer necessary.

I’d like to look at the jewelry industry in the same way. Of course, we won’t rewrite the history of the jewelry and watch industries (although that actually might be fun… “When Thomas Jefferson retired to Monticello to construct the world’s first battery-driven watch…” Hey, it could have happened!).

But I guarantee you that our whole editorial team will continue to bring you stories that make you think about the rules. We’ll also continue to publish all sides of each issue, in the grand tradition of my predecessor, George Holmes.

So which rules are worth keeping, such as the stop lights that keep us from running into each other at intersections? Which rules should be changed, such as the one that says men have to wear jackets and ties in hot weather, or that women have to wear skirts and high heels? (Blessings to Israeli men for not conforming to the tie rule and to American women for traversing train stations in sneakers.)

For example:

Why can’t retailers raise the prices of their diamonds to fall in line with the CSO’s price increases? What happened to that basic rule of capitalism that says each seller must make a profit in order to bring the goods to market? That’s a rule worth keeping — and one that perhaps we need to reteach consumers when it comes to diamonds, regardless of price lists.

There are other rules the industry needs to mull over too:

  • Is there something radically wrong with 58.5% low-content platinum? I’m not suggesting that it’s OK, I’d just like to see more discussion on the topic. (See our Letters section for the Platinum Guild’s opinion.)

  • Is grading pearls an evil to be avoided at all costs? After all, pearls are usually sold in multiples, making them quite a different purchase from single diamonds. Maybe pearls don’t have to become a commodity.

  • Are synthetic gemstones (properly labeled and disclosed) really a threat to all natural gemstones or are they just another option for the kind of consumer who buys vinyl instead of leather or polyester instead of cotton? (See Robert Weldon’s excellent article in this issue about some of the serious challenges facing our industry with the growing misuse of synthetic stones.)

  • Does the rule still hold that watches and tabletops items are losers in most jewelry stores? Or will we see an upturn in those items as branding and luxury items continue to surge?

  • Are auction houses unfair competitors for luxury consumers’ jewelry and gem dollars? Or are they just new competition?

I’d like to hear from you concerning these issues and any others in which you think the rules should be examined in a fair way. Don’t bother to be formal — a handwritten note will do. I can read the worst scrawl. My penmanship is as bad as my predecessor’s (and George and I are both lefthanded persons of Irish descent too!). Or send me an e-mail (pdonahue@chilton.net). I can’t promise that I’ll respond to every e-mail, but I will read them all and share them with my colleagues. Yes, JCK is finally moving into the electronic age. You’ll be hearing more from us on that score too!

Cheers!