UpFront

TRADEMARK REGISTRY WILL PROTECT JEWELERS

Buyers at major trade shows have a new ally in the fight against deception: a registry that requires all exhibitors to comply with national quality marking and trademark laws.

The International Trademark Registry was created under the auspices of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee to fight underkarating of precious metal jewelry and watches. ITR will operate as a division of JVC.

Beginning in spring 1997, the approximately 2,500 exhibitors of precious metal products at major U.S. trade shows will be required to complete a registration form verifying that they comply with the National Gold and Silver Marking Act. The regulation requires jewelry carrying any quality mark also to carry a U.S. registered trademark or the name of the manufacturer who will attest to its validity.

Those without a U.S. registered trademark must include a trademark application and fee for a temporary certificate. All exhibitors will be required to display their ITR certificate in their booths at the shows.

Trade show operators are notifying their exhibitors of the new regulation and, along with JVC, will monitor and enforce adherence.

“The JVC is looking out for consumers and retailers so they are comfortable knowing the stamped jewelry they buy is what a manufacturer claims it to be,” saysBob Green, past president of JVC and the official under whom the ITR concept was formulated. “It will be sort of like looking for the union label.”

The registry has the full support of the three biggest U.S. jewelry show organizers — the JCKInternational JewelryShows, Blenheim Group andMiller Freeman–and will expand to include the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America Expos and several international shows — including Basel ’97 in Switzerland — in spring 1997.

“The Trademark Registry will enhance the credibility of our trade shows and alleviate a long-standing problem,” says Charles Bond, publisher of JCK magazine and director of the JCK International Jewelry Shows in Las Vegas and Orlando. “JVC is serving the industry by reminding companies that quality is a top priority.”

DE BEERS EARNINGS RISE; RUSSIAN LEAKS START AGAIN

On the heels of record diamond sales in 1995, De Beers reported a half-year earnings increase of 18%.

De Beers’ Consolidated Mines and De Beers Centenary notched combined earnings of $482 million for the first half of 1996, up from $407 million for the same period in 1995.

De Beers’ marketing arm, the Central Selling Organisation, reported record first-half sales of $2.75 million.

Considering just the diamond account (profits from diamond trading), earnings rose 3% to $447 million. A change in accounting procedures at the end of 1995 helped De Beers to reduce its diamond stockpile value from $4.67 billion to $4.51 billion.

New leaks: De Beers’ executives acknowledged that leakage of rough diamonds from Russia has started again and has become serious enough to warrant concern. The suspected sources are joint-venture operations — foreign companies that buy rough directly from Russian agencies to polish there. The market for polished diamonds under a half carat is much less certain than the rough market, so some joint-venture companies find it more profitable to send goods out of Russia unworked.

Similar leaks were rampant toward the end of a five-year Russia/CSO marketing agreement that ended last year. When a new understanding was reached in February, De Beers executives thought the leaks would stop. In fact, it was that agreement that helped Russia’s mining and marketing agency, Almazi-Rossii-Sakha, to secure a $500 million financing package arranged by NatWest Bank to upgrade its deteriorating mines.

Regardless, the leaks have resumed, says De Beers.

No price war: Meanwhile, De Beers says it won’t engage in a price war with Argyle Diamonds over market share for cheaper diamonds. Argyle recently broke from the De Beers network and decided to market its mostly smaller, lower quality diamonds itself.

Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of the CSO and deputy chairman of De Beers, says buyers weren’t committing to small diamonds in hopes prices would fall in a price war between De Beers and Argyle. But that won’t happen, he says.

He adds that the CSO is working with Indian sightholders to settle their market in the turmoil that erupted in the wake of Argyle’s break. While expressing disappointment over Argyle’s decision, De Beers’ executives are optimistic about second-half sales because they anticipate strong retail demand in the U.S. and improvements in the Japanese retail climate.

CHRISTIE’S TO SELL JEWELRY COLLECTIONS OF THE STARS

The star-studded jewels of five Hollywood leading ladies will be on display at Christie’s auctions in Los Angeles and New York City this month.

The Los Angeles auction Oct. 3 will feature jewelry from the estates of Ginger Rogers, Audrey Meadows, Gene Tierney and Dinah Shore.

The collection of Ginger Rogers — who starred and danced in movies with Fred Astaire in the 1930s and 1940s — includes eight pieces by Hollywood jewelry designer Paul Flato. Offerings include a pair of feather brooches, featured in a 1939 Vogue ad and estimated at $10,000 to $15,000; a suite consisting of an emerald drop shell bracelet, earrings, brooch and ring that Rogers wore to the 1946 Academy Awards, estimated at $6,000 to $8,000; and a shell watch with “Ginger” printed on the dial, estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. A 7.06-ct. D VS1 oval-cut diamond ring with a pave-set diamond mounting, estimated at $70,000 to $90,000, will be offered also.

Audrey Meadows, who played Alice Kramden on “The Honeymooners,” will be represented by 27 pieces at the auction. A ruby and diamond cuff bracelet by David Webb is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000. An amethyst and cultured pearl four-leaf clover bracelet that Meadows wore on her TV show is estimated at $800 to $1,000.

Pearl and diamond earrings by Cartier, estimated at $12,000 to $15,000, and pave-set diamond leaf ear clips, estimated at $5,000 to $7,000, will be offered from the estate of Gene Tierney, a 1940s actress known for her role in Leave Her to Heaven.

The collection of Dinah Shore, a 1930s and 1940s recording artist and more recently host of TV’s The Dinah Shore Show, includes a pair of black and white multistrand cultured pearl and diamond necklaces by David Webb, estimated at $8,000 to $10,000, and David Webb cultured pearl and diamond ear clips estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.

The auction will be held at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, Cal. Christie’s Los Angeles, 342 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210; (310) 275-5534, fax (310) 275-9748. For a catalog, call (800) 395-6300.

In NewYork City on Oct. 23-24, meanwhile, Christie’s will auction the jewelry from the estate of Greer Garson, the Academy Award-winning actress perhaps best known for the 1940s films Goodbye Mr. Chips and Mrs. Miniver. The jewelry will include a pear-shaped yellow-brown diamond brooch of 28.84 carats and a pear-shaped diamond ring of 9.91 carats.

The New York City sale also will feature the largest heart-shaped diamond ever offered at auction. The 101.31-ct. D-color internally flawless diamond was cut from a rough stone weighing 210.43 carats. Until now, the largest heart-shaped diamond sold at auction was the Heart of the Desert, a 62.42-ct. D-color internally flawless stone that sold for $5.2 million in November 1994 at Sotheby’s in Geneva, Switzerland.

The sale also will highlight the collection of Lyn Revson, wife of cosmetics giant Charles Revson, who founded Revlon Inc. Pieces will include a suite of diamond and cabochon emerald, amethyst and turquoise jewelry from the Bulgari boutique in Anzio, Italy.

Other exceptional collections will feature a circular D-color diamond of 28.47 carats, a rectangular-cut emerald of 15.54 carats and a diamond necklace estimated at $1.8 million to $2 million.

TIDAL WAVE MISSES PEARLS, BUT WEATHER STUNTS CROP

Nature lends such evil dreams, said Lord Alfred Tennyson, and nobody is more acutely aware of this than people who make their livings producing and selling cultured pearls.

The islands of French Polynesia, the center of production for Tahitian cultured black pearls, were rocked by a 17-foot tidal wave in July. The tidal wave damaged 400 houses, blocked roads and flooded airfields in the southern coastal areas of Tahiti, Moorea and the Tuamotu islands.

What effect the tidal wave had on pearl farms remains to be seen. Martin Coeroli, director of the G.I.E. Perles de Tahiti in Papeete, says he has not heard of any severe damage to pearl farms or crops. Most pearl farms are located on the northern and eastern islands of French Polynesia, and the tidal wave struck the southwestern islands.

However, Salvador Assael of Assael International, a New York City-based importer of South Sea pearls, visited French Polynesia a few days after the disaster and saw at least one pearl farm that was destroyed. “The extent of the damage has not yet been assessed,” he says. “It’s possible that so much damage was done that some small farmers may have to go out of business.”

For most cultivators, the harvesting of this year’s crop was completed several weeks before the tidal wave, so any damage won’t be felt until next year.

Large volumes, high demand: Even though this year’s harvest narrowly escaped devastation, Assael says unusual weather and a cultivation period shortened because of high demand stunted the crop.

While the volume of cultured black pearls harvested was the biggest Assael has ever seen, individual size was smaller and quality was lower. “There are no big black pearls this year,” he says, adding that no pearls in the crop exceeded 15mm.

A large-scale ad campaign this year plus the promotion of Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls perfume have boosted interest in Tahitian cultured black pearls in the U.S., he says. Because Japanese consumption is heavier also, availability may become a problem. “It was a big harvest, but we’re already wondering how we are going to take care of all the customers we have,” Assael says.

Assael and Coeroli say prices for Tahitian black pearls are strong and predict they may rise as demand exceeds supply.

Meanwhile, Assael says the harvest of South Sea pearls from Australia this year was exceptional. “They are of good quality, and it’s a bigger crop than last year,” he says.

(For a detailed look at the pearl world, see a series of other pearl stories in this issue.)

WEDLO LIQUIDATES LORCH DIAMOND CHAIN

Everything must go.

There will be no sale of Wedlo Inc. to another company, says President Robert F. Keller. All assets of Wedlo’s Lorch Diamond Centers — merchandise, fixtures and stores — are being liquidated and accounts receivable are being collected. Everything is expected to be sold by the end of January. At press time, the company had about 20 stores in the Southeast U.S.

Wedlo Inc. filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code Feb. 2. Though Keller says the company was carrying a somewhat higher debt burden than usual, he cites other reasons for the bankruptcy. These reasons include the civil liability law of Alabama and a controversial state court ruling that allowed consumers to sue credit retailers such as Lorch for using a state-approved formula when selling credit insurance (see JCK, March 1996, p. 18).

The results of the court decision were devastating for many Alabama retailers: some 2,500 lawsuits (including some against Wedlo’s major finance-provider) were filed over several months. A new state law overturned the ruling, but it came too late to help Wedlo and many other retailers.

Earlier this summer, Keller said Wedlo would either sell to another retailer or liquidate if a buyer couldn’t be found in time. Keller said at least two major regional chains showed some interest, but were scared away by the “legal climate” in Alabama. He wouldn’t identify the companies that showed an interest.

Wedlo’s status under Chapter 11 enables it to continue operating while it sells off assets. A switch to Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code, the usual arena for liquidation, would have required it to shut down and sell off immediately.

Keller still expects every store location to be taken over by independent local buyers, some chains and — in some cases — by their current managers. “Few, if any, will be closed,” Keller says.

QVC LAUNCHES INTERACTIVE SHOPPING SITE ON INTERNET

QVC, a leader in TV shopping, has jumped into retailing on the Internet. The West Chester, Pa.-based electronic retailer on Sept. 4 launched iQVC, a site on the Internet’s World Wide Web. QVC had previously been on-line via the Microsoft Network.

The new interactive shopping site blends on-line features with joint on-air TV events, the first such integration of the Internet and television, says QVC.

QVC has a TV audience of about 56 million. Its expansion to the Internet gives it access to 37 million worldwide users of the World Wide Web, according to recent industry figures.

iQVC is a 24-hour service that allows customers to buy merchandise at the same time it’s being offered on the cable TV channel and provides them with what QVC calls “real-time inventory” to ensure product availability. The iQVC Shop offers brand name merchandise in 19 product departments and 180 categories, including jewelry. The jewelry is primarily 14k, 18k and 24k gold and sterling silver. Included are watches, collectibles and tabletop merchandise.

iQVC can be reached on the Web at http://www.qvc.com.

KELSEY LAKE YIELDS 28.3-CT. DIAMOND

The first commercial diamond mine in the U.S. started production on a high note this summer with the discovery of a 28.3-carat gem rough. The diamond, the fifth largest ever mined in North America, was found just before press time at the new Kelsey Lake diamond mine in Colorado (for more details about the mine, see “Colorado’s Diamonds Cap Geologist’s Quest” on pages 102-103 of this issue).

The largest stone previously recovered at Kelsey Lake weighed 14.2 carats and was found during bulk sampling.

The announcement about the 28.3-ct. diamond came from Redaurum Ltd., the mining company that backs the mine financially. The diamond was expected to be among those offered during Redaurum’s first commercial sale of Kelsey Lake diamonds Sept. 30. More than 2,500 carats of diamonds were scheduled to be offered through a closed bid tender system in Denver, Colo.

Production at the Kelsey Lake mine is 190 metric tons of ore per hour, with more than 25% of the diamonds recovered larger than 1 carat. To date, only the company’s KL-2 pipe has fed the recovery plant. But in November, the company plans to begin operations at the KL-1 open pit also.

INDUSTRY TAKES OFFENSE AT HARPER’S FEATURE

An editorial feature on gold jewelry in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar has some members of the jewelry industry in an uproar.

The six-page pictorial features models dressed in street fashions and wearing luxury designer gold jewelry. Reactions from suppliers featured in the spread ranged from concern about a racist portrayal of African-American and Hispanic youths as gang members and thieves to observations that this was not an upscale fine jewelry customer’s lifestyle.

“The models they used looked like street gangs,” says RonKappus of Kurt Gutmann Jewelry Inc. inNewtown, Pa., whose jewelry was included. “The whole theme was ethnically oriented, which was fine.But the venue and the context they chose was not relevant to the kind of merchandise.”

The theme raised other concerns. “We got one of the best product shots of anybody, so we can’t really complain, but there was no cohesion between the idea of the article and the people in the article,” says John Chalson of William Chalson & Co in New York, N.Y. “People who want to look like that aren’t going to march into Cartier and spend $15,000 on a necklace.”

Adds Kappus, “I think the jewelry industry deserves a lot more than that. The workmanship and effort that goes into designer jewelry is not being recognized [in this presentation].”

Some industry associations expressed concerns also. “There are 1,001 ways to showcase fine jewelry in a positive light, and this wasn’t one of them,” say Lynn Ramsey, president of the Jewelry InformationCenter, NewYork, N.Y. “It was out of context. These kids could never afford the kind of jewelry that was shown, and the fact that it was mixed with their own jewelry did not enhance the image of our products.”

The World Gold Council had looked forward to the pictorial because it was the first time in a while that a consumer magazine had focused on gold jewelry. “We had been very excited when we heard there was going to be an important editorial feature on gold jewelry,” says Debra McDonough, communications director. “We were quite disappointed in the execution of the project.”

Harper’s Bazaar generally favors a “cutting edge” approach to fashion, art and photography, says Jeanette Chang, vice president and publisher. “We’re always striving to do something different, to make it interesting and make it thought-provoking. People are certainly talking about it!” Chang also says fashion designers increasingly take their inspiration from street styles.

Not everyone panned the street fashion spread. Jim DeMattei of the John Hardy Collection in New York City, another manufacturer featured in the article, called it “an aggressive editorial piece,” but saw the flak it generated as positive. “After the dust settles, it will be seen as a stroke of genius,” he says. “There are a lot of people talking about gold jewelry who might not have otherwise. People have reacted to the piece. I don’t think it will directly affect sales.”

The article got a positive reaction in the offices of Penny Preville Inc. in Great Neck, N.Y., also included in the article.

Chang says no readers complained about the article.

JEWELERS’ ’96 CHOICES: DOLE & TAX CUTS

Though the presidential election isn’t until Nov. 5, many jewelers have already made up their minds. They want Bob Dole in the White House. A JCK poll of jewelers around the U.S. found 61% would vote for Dole compared with 27% for Bill Clinton.

Dole’s lead wasn’t due solely to party affiliation. Fewer than half the jewelers surveyed (47%) identified themselves as Republicans. One in five (21%) identified themselves as independents, and most of those jewelers support Dole. Almost all of the Democrats endorse Clinton.

The JCK results are similar to the sentiments of small business owners in general, according to a survey conducted in August by Mason-Dixon/Media Research, a national polling firm. That survey found that 56% of small business owners prefer Dole and 23% support Clinton.

The results of this year’s JCK sampling of jewelers differs significantly from those gleaned during the 1992 race between Clinton, George Bush and Ross Perot.

  • Though he was the preferred candidate of jewelers polled in 1992 (39%), Ross Perot got no support this time. Though he was not yet a declared candidate at the time of the recent poll, he could have been a write-in choice, but no one chose him. In the Mason-Dixon survey, Perot was endorsed by 7%.

  • The Democratic and Republican nominees this year have more support from jewelers than the respective party nominees of four years ago. In 1992, Bush had the support of 30% of jewelers polled and Clinton had the support of 14%.

Taxing issues: The JCKpoll also asked jewelers what they consider the most important business issue facing them and the next president. The overwhelming response: taxes.

Some type of action to reduce or reform taxes, especially the capital gains tax, is necessary, say 69% of those polled. “We need to reward productivity and investment,” says Roger Marks of Roger’s Jewelry in Modesto, Cal. “Put more money into the pockets of those who can and will accomplish this.”

Tax reductions and/or reform would relieve pressure on the middle class and spur local and national economies, say many respondents. “When the tax base is low, the consumer has more money to feed the economy,” says a West Coast jeweler who wishes to remain anonymous. “It helps the average family have more actual spendable dollars.”

Not everyone thinks lowering taxes is always a good thing. Eliminating one source of tax revenue may force the government to find the money somewhere else. “I fear a return of some form of luxury tax if the tax structure is lowered,” says Phil Minsky of Wyman Jewelers in Stoughton, Mass.

There also are scattered calls for tax breaks specifically for small businesses. “Give small business a reason to grow and create more jobs, such as [with] tax credits and training-time tax credits,” urges Sharon Brakebill of Carriage Fine Jewelry in Bakersfield, Cal.

Jewelers also would like to see less government spending, smaller government and less red tape. “Eliminate a lot of the paperwork we in small business have to prepare to meet government regulations,” says George Robey of Sibbings Jewelry in Dubuque, Iowa. Many regulations are intended for big businesses but overlap onto small ones, he says. “This almost cripples us in the attempt to keep up with all the regulations and paperwork. Sometimes I think we are working more for the government than we are for ourselves!”

JEWELERS & CANDIDATES

Who will you vote for in the presidential election?

Bill Clinton 27%

Bob Dole 61%

Other 2%

No answer 10%

Source: JCK Retail Jewelers Panel, August 1996

CORRECTIONS

An article on page 192 of the August 1996 issue of JCK should have said Harriet Schreiner was named executive vice president and general merchandise manager of Sterling Inc., Akron, Ohio. The story listed the wrong company.

The “Fashion Facets” department of the September 1996 issue listed designer Robin Garin Rotstein as product development manager of Nili Jewelry Co., New York, N.Y. Since then, Rotstein has become senior designer and supervisor in the fine jewelry division of the Town & Country Group, New York, N.Y.

DE BEERS’ MYSTERY CELEBRITY CONTEST

Her out-of-focus face has the pouty lips and well-defined cheekbones of a beautiful model or actress, but the center of attention is the diamond solitaire necklace she wears in the new De Beers ad.

Who is this mystery celebrity? The Diamond Information Center wants you to guess.

The television magazine “Entertainment Tonight” displayed the mystery image on its show in September to kick off the “Who Is the Woman Wearing the Diamond Solitaire Necklace?” contest. Ten winners who correctly guess the identity of the jewelry model will receive half-carat diamond solitaire necklaces.

A full-page advertisement with the photograph and contest rules will be featured in October issues of Vanity Fair and In Style. Direct mail promotions were sent to 38,000 women in September with the DIC’s catalog of diamond jewelry; 112,000 selected magazine subscribers will receive direct mail throughout October.

Contest participants must respond by Oct. 25, and all correct answers will be entered into a drawing. Ten winners will be chosen in a drawing Oct. 30 and will be notified by registered mail Nov. 29. The name of the secret celebrity will be announced by “Entertainment Tonight” on Nov. 12.

Entries may be sent to “Who Is the Woman Wearing the Diamond Solitaire Necklace?” Contest, P.O. Box 5147, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163. Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 25.

The contest is open to all U.S. residents 18 years of age and older. Employees or relatives of employees of J. Walter Thompson, Paramount Pictures Corp., The Conde Nast Corp. or The Time/Life Corp. or affiliated companies are not eligible to win.

TANZANITE SIMULANT GETS NEW NAME

Two competing companies marketing tanzanite simulants under similar names hope to avoid confusion and litigation with a name change.

The Allanite Co. of Houston, Tex., has marketed its simulant under the trade name “coranite” since 1992. It filed a registration application for the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office June 15, 1995.

Gemstones International of Sayreville, N.J., marketed its simulant under the name “cortanite.” It filed a registration application with the trademark office Feb. 7, 1996, and then filed an opposition to Allanite’s application May 16, 1996.Now Gemstones International has dropped its opposition and will use use the name “chortanite.”

Both companies agreed to the change to avoid confusion in the trade. The tanzanite simulant is actually a synthetic sapphire; see JCK, February 1996, p. 20.

CSC CLOSES, LUGER SWISS MOVES TO FADA INDUSTRIES

Asia Commercial Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong has closed its U.S. subsidiary, CSC Time Corp. of Rockville Center, N.Y. The closure is blamed on financial difficulties Asia Commercial faces because of problems with its real estate holdings in China.

Charles Kriete, former CSC president, and Gary Simon, vice president, have moved CSC’s Luger Swiss watch line to Fada Industries, Long Island City, N.Y. Fada will maintain Luger Swiss’s current lines, distribution, pricing and Swiss movement-based design.

The upcoming Kenneth Cole line of watches, licensed by the nationally known shoe and accessories manufacturer, will move to Fada also. Kriete expects to sign retailers this November for a February 1997 product launch.

The PerryEllis watch brand, also distributed by CSC, is still investigating options, says Kriete.

Fada Industries distributes Gitano, Gloria Vanderbilt, Converse, Sierra Club and Sasson licensed brands and its own Futura brand to mass merchandisers and some department stores.

ORT TO HONOR FORTUNOFF

Helene Fortunoff will receive the ORT Jewelry Industry Achievement Award at a dinner in her honor Oct. 10 in New York, N.Y.

Fortunoff, a leader in the merchandising and design of fine jewelry, established the fine jewelry division of Fortunoff Fine Jewelry and Silver Sales, with stores in Westbury and New York, N.Y.; and Wayne, Paramus and Woodbridge, N.J. In her 39-year career in the jewelry industry, Fortunoff also has won numerous awards, including the Morris B. Zale Award for Retailing Excellence and the Women’s Jewelry Association Award for Retailing Excellence. She was elected president of WJA in 1993 and was the first woman honoree of the Israel Bonds Jewelry Division and the first woman member of De Beers’ United States Carat Club.She also is a member of the Alumni Association of the Gemological Institute of America and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and a past member of the Society of Jewelry Historians USA and the American Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Her community and religious involvement includes service as a trustee of Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, N.Y.; director of endowments and trustee of the North Shore Family and Child Guidance Association; and a member of the board of Hofstra University. She is a past board member of Jewelers of America, the Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, the Nassau Museum of Fine Arts and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She was recently honored by the UJA-Federation of New York’s Diamond and Jewelry Division, is a charter member of the UJA Women of Distinction and received the Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League.

ORT’s Jewelry Industry Chapter supports the ORT worldwide network of schools. In the U.S., ORT operates three technical schools (Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City) and 12 off-site programs with a combined student body of 5,000.

UTIME CO. ASSUMES CHRONO SWISS DISTRIBUTION

UTime Co. Inc. of Rutherford, N.J., has added Chronoswiss to its array of mid-to-high-end Swiss luxury watches. Chronoswiss was formerly distributed in the U.S. by Chronotime Inc. of Livingston, N.J.

Chronoswiss was founded in the early 1980s by Gerd Lang as a brand for watch connoisseurs. Its handcrafted automatic and hand-wound watches include chronometers, chronographs, regulators and traditional three-handed watches. All feature transparent casebacks and handcrafted movements.

Prices in the U.S. range from about $2,500 to $30,000, says Hans Beck, senior executive vice president of UTime. Beck, who will act as Chronoswiss brand manager until a new one can be appointed, says he will review the list of about 40 retailers who carry the line to determine whether any distribution changes will be made.

The Swiss-based UTime Co. Ltd., distributes luxury watches worldwide. In the U.S., in addition to Chronoswiss, it distributes Bertolucci, Breguet, Girard-Perregaux and its own brand, Gevril.

TALKS BETWEEN SIGNET, APAX APPROACH END

Negotiations reportedly are progressing well between Signet Group, the London-based parent of Sterling Inc. of Akron, Ohio, and Apax Partners, a London-based venture capital firm that wants to buy Signet’s United Kingdom operations. “The end is in sight,” says a source close to the negotiations.

Negotiations with landlords on hundreds of leases for Signet’s H Samuel and Ernest Jones stores have delayed the expected summer completion of the deal. The sale price is reported to be about $435 million.

Once the sales is completed, Signet is expected to move its headquarters to the U.S., where Sterling is the company’s major revenue and profit-maker.

JIS PREPARES ARUBA SHOW

The Jewelers International Showcase is preparing to welcome exhibitors and buyers to its first show inAruba in the Caribbean. The 170-booth show will be held Nov. 16-18 in the Seaport Conference Center at the Aruba Sonesta Resorts and Casinos.

For more details, see JCK, August 1996, p. 158, or contact JIS at (407) 998-0205.