UpFront

Diamond Dealers to Disclose Drilling

Starting next year, diamond cutters will disclose laser drilling in the goods they sell or memo. At their joint meeting in Bangkok in July, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association voted unanimously to require their members to disclose drilling to remove black inclusions in all diamond transactions. The resolution, which applies to diamonds of any size, takes effect Jan. 1.

“We’ve had to change our minds on this issue because consumers want to know everything,” said Jacques Roisen, who headed the American IDMA delegation. “There have also been lawsuits over this matter.” His colleague, New York diamond dealer Jeff Fischer, added that the diamond industry “can’t appear to be standing in the way of disclosure.”

American diamond dealers have been under fire from Jewelers of America and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee for their previous stance that laser drilling need not be disclosed since it’s a normal part of the diamond manufacturing process. Two years ago the Federal Trade Commission adopted the same position, prompting immediate outcries.

Delegates to the meeting also wrestled with the controversial subject of diamond branding but in the end voted only to ask De Beers to keep the diamond industry informed about its test program in England. A De Beers representative said the program, which began in July, “is only a first stage to determine whether it would help consumers purchase a diamond.” At this time, De Beers has no plans for further branding efforts beyond the test in Britain.

In other De Beers news, Anthony Oppenheimer, president of the Central Selling Organisation, said De Beers would increase its Christmas advertising in the United States “to reach those men who have made enormous gains in the stock market.” The marketing increase in the United States will exceed $5 million this year.

– Russell Shor

JCK Shows Invite Grant Requests

Applications will be accepted until Oct. 1 for grants from the $400,000 JCK Show Jewelry Industry Fund. Announced last winter (JCK, March 1998, p. 152), the fund will distribute grants to individuals, groups, or associations promoting the jewelry industry. The funds are provided by the JCK International Jewelry Shows.

An advisory panel of representatives from jewelry manufacturing, jewelry retailing, JCK magazine, and JCK Shows will review the grant applications. Winners will be announced no later than Nov. 1. They will be selected on the basis of their ability to increase awareness and knowledge of jewelry products among consumers and retailers. A grant can’t be used to replace or substitute an existing funding source for an ongoing program. Grants will be made on a yearly basis only.

Applications for grants must be in writing and must include the following information:

  1. The purpose of the grant.

  2. The amount requested.

  3. The timing of the receipt and expenditure of the funds.

  4. Historical budget data indicating the significance of the project as demonstrated by previous financial commitment.

  5. The measurable benefits expected.

  6. An agreement that JCK has the right to reasonable financial analysis and controls to ensure the funds are spent in accordance with the grant request.

Applications should be sent no later than Oct. 1 to: The JCK Shows, Reed Exhibition Companies, Norwalk, CT 06851.

JA Tests ‘Milestone’ Ethics Program

Jewelers of America has launched its new ethics program, which executive director Matthew Runci calls “a milestone in the history of JA.” Ten state associations will test the program this year before national implementation in 1999.

The comprehensive program includes adoption of an ethics code to be signed by JA members, education of jewelers and customers, and institution of procedures governing customer complaints. “[This] is a major step in restoring trust between jewelers and consumers [by] increasing the professionalism of retail jewelers and operating in an ethical manner at all times,” says Runci.

The “JA Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct and Business Practice” took 18 months of preparation by a JA task force, with input from jewelers, focus groups, and leaders of state jewelry associations across the United States. The code is designed to cover jewelers’ professional behavior and conduct with the public and “sets the baseline standard to adhere to,” says Runci.

Participating JA members are asked to sign and abide by the code as an indication of their “commitment to build a relationship with customers based on trust and professionalism,” according to a JA report on the program. In the future, signing the Code of Ethics will be a requirement for JA membership.

The ultimate goal is to develop an atmosphere in which consumer and retailer can work together to resolve any conflicts.

The 10 participating state associations are the Intermountain Jewelers Association, Iowa Jewelers Association, Missouri Jewelers and Watchmakers Association, New Mexico Jewelers Association, Ohio Jewelers Association, Oklahoma Jewelers Association, Pacific Northwest Jewelers Association, Pennsylvania Jewelers Association, Rocky Mountain Jewelers Association, and Texas Jewelers Association.

JA, the national trade association of retail jewelers, is based in New York and has about 13,000 members. – William George Shuster

Re-energized JVC Raises ’Ethical Ante’

With a new director at its helm and 15 new goals to guide it, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee is moving quickly to re-establish itself as the jewelry industry’s legal and ethical watchdog. “This is a re-energized JVC,” says Cecilia L. Gardner, the former federal prosecutor who became the committee’s executive director and general counsel in June (JCK, July 1998, p. 22).

JVC has developed objectives as the result of a survey of “past, present, and potential” members and intense organizational soul-searching by the JVC board and Gardner at a recent marathon session in New York. “We completely dissected” every JVC service, activity, and operation and assessed their effectiveness, says JVC president Lee Berg of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in Baton Rouge, La., who has led the effort to make JVC an active industry force once again.

The board asked Gardner to submit formal proposals at its September meeting on how to implement the goals within the next several months.

Some of those goals are:

  • Creating an industrywide coalition to develop acceptable language on disclosure issues (such as laser drilling or enhancements) for submission to the Federal Trade Commission for its Guides for the Jewelry Industry. “We hope this will be one of our first new projects,” says Gardner.

  • Devising a code of ethics for JVC members.

  • Developing educational materials for the trade in clear English explaining the FTC guidelines and their impact on daily operations.

  • “Formalizing and professionalizing” JVC’s mediation and counseling services, according to Gardner, to ensure “due process” for all participants.

  • Instituting programs targeting undercarating and trademark and copyright violations.

  • Doubling JVC’s membership (now 1,200 companies, down from 2,100 in the early 1990s) by the year 2000. This is especially important, since the bulk of JVC’s financial support – and the funding for its enforcement and educational activities – comes from its membership. Its current budget is about $700,000.

Some JVC initiatives already are under way. Officials of JVC and the Miller Freeman Jewelry Group (which runs the Jewelers of America Show in New York) said that starting with the January 1999 JA Show, all exhibitors will be asked to submit a copy of their registered trademark certificates to JVC for review. Firms with registered trademarks will be indicated with an icon in the show catalog. In addition, JVC’s mediation services will be available to retailers and vendors at the show to resolve any disputes over products. Eventually, according to JVC and show officials, compliance will be mandatory. JVC officials are talking with staff of The JCK Show with the aim of instituting the same initiatives at JCK exhibitions.

“This ups the ante for ethical conduct,” says Gardner. “These are important first steps in raising the awareness in the industry about the requirements of the law in the trademark area [and] of FTC guidelines.” – William George Shuster

Changes at the 1999 JCK Las Vegas Show

The JCK Show has contracted for 50,000 square feet of additional space at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The space will be allocated to existing exhibitors wishing to expand rather than to new exhibitors, who will continue to be signed on only through normal attrition. Exhibitors will be selected to receive additional space on the basis of several factors, including the nature of their products, the design of their booths, and the number of years they’ve been at The JCK Show.

The 1999 Las Vegas Show, which will take place June 2-8, will have two other new features: an international visitors’ center and a design contest for the best booth. The contest will also be introduced at The JCK Orlando Show next year, scheduled for Feb. 6-9 at the Orange County Convention Center.

JCK Show officials urge those planning to attend either the Orlando or the Las Vegas exhibition to save time by filling out the required forms in advance. For preregistration information, call (800) 257-3626. Travel arrangements can be made through Travel Tech at (888) 254-0937. International travelers can contact JCK at ttgonline.com or can call (312) 527-7300, fax (312) 329-9513.

’Diamond Guy’ to Sell Online

Fred Cuellar, the diamond cutter and author who answers consumers’ questions about diamonds as America Online’s “Diamond Guy,” plans to sell diamonds over the popular online service.

Cuellar says he already gets 300 to 400 queries a day from consumers. One of the most common: “Can you sell me a diamond?” “So we’re going to start selling them,” says Cuellar. “There will be no sales pitch; we won’t try to pressure people. We will just give them a price, and if they like the price, they can have the diamond.”

He added it was a “fair assumption” that America Online would be getting part of the proceeds.

America Online users can reach Cuellar by typing the keywords “Diamond Guy.”

– Rob Bates