UpFront

ANGOLA RESUMES DIAMOND PRODUCTION

Rising from the ashes of its long civil war, Angola is well on its way to becoming a major diamond power again, further threatening the tenuous balance of supply and demand in the world diamond market.

That’s the view of Martyn Marriott, a London-based diamond industry consultant with close ties to Angola. Marriott says some 3.25 million carats of primarily better quality diamonds worth an estimated $750 million will come out of Angola this year &endash; legally and illegally. He cites two reasons for Angola’s sudden resurgence:

  • Cessation of the civil war that has racked the nation since the mid-1970s (with the exception of a year-long respite in 1992). This means many thousands of diggers have returned to the fields of Cuango in north-central Angola looking for diamonds. The vast majority of diamonds they dig up are smuggled out of the country through a network of dealers.

  • A shakeup in May in the management of Endiama, the state-run diamond marketing board that issues diamond mining and export licenses. Endiama’s previous director, Noe Balthazar, had favored keeping Angola’s legal diamond production under close wraps, largely through De Beers’ Central Selling Organisation and an Antwerp consortium called Steinmetz-Evens. The new managers, Roberto Diaz and former mining engineer Paulino Netto, have opened Angola’s official production to several other companies, including Leon Tempelsman & Son (Lazare Kaplan International), Arslanian Freres, Steinmetz-Evens and several Lebanese and Portuguese exporters, says Marriott. This official production will likely account for only 20% of the diamonds mined in Angola this year.

Marriott says the increase in diamonds from Angola is bad news for De Beers, which spent several years trying to rein in the country’s diamonds following a near-disastrous outpouring of goods in 1991 and 1992. More than $650 million worth of diamonds streamed from Angola during the latter half of 1992 alone, while the U.S. and Japan were struggling with recessions. De Beers bought the majority of those diamonds to keep them from affecting diamond prices.

Now, as then, the unofficial production is causing most of the problems: the diggers don’t concern themselves with the balances of the world diamond market. De Beers has been buying a lot of these goods in recent months, says Marriott. “So in that sense they are under control.”

Quality: Unlike much of the Russian rough that’s been pouring onto the market, Angolan goods are high quality, often larger than a carat, with a high percentage over two carats.

Marriott estimates Angolan production averages $230 per carat, more than double the average value of any other major producer except for Namibia, whose high quality goods average an estimated $315 per carat. (By contrast, Argyle’s 45-million-carat production averages $9 per carat, according to his estimates.)

“De Beers has been trying to push up the prices of those goods, so it has sold very few of them in recent months,” he says. “When it does resume selling them, I think there will be a substantial price increase.”

De Beers spokesman Robin Walker says the level of Angolan goods on the market “is of no great significance” and will likely subside once Angola’s rainy season arrives. In any case, rough in these qualities remains scarce, regardless of origin, he says.

Angola has been a diamond producing nation since 1917 and has substantial diamond reserves remaining. De Beers officials believe the illicit digging in late 1992 “picked the eyes” (rendering a deposit uneconomical by taking out the best gems) from much of the alluvial area of Cuango, Angola’s most productive area. In addition, this area was occupied for several years by the UNITA rebel group, which mined and sold diamonds to buy weapons.

Meanwhile, the Angolan government is negotiating with the Russian group Almazi-Rossii-Sakha to develop a kimberlite pipe at Catoca. That pipe reportedly contains substantial reserves of smaller, lower quality stones.

&endash; by Russell Shor

JCK PLANS NEW SHOW, NEW CONFERENCE

JCK has announced plans for two new ventures: a spring jewelry show and a conference for high-volume jewelers.

The first edition of the new show will be held Feb. 20-23, 1997, in the Orlando Convention Center, Orlando, Fla. The dates were selected to avoid conflicts with Valentine’s Day and other trade shows.

“This was a very difficult decision to make,” says Charles M. Bond, publisher of JCK and director of the four-year-old summer JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas. “We realize that many in the industry already feel we are `overshowed,’ but so many of our Las Vegas exhibitors urged us to start a spring event that we felt we had to make this move.”

A number of key exhibitors have already pledged to take space in the new show. However, the number of booths at the new show will be limited to about 2,000, about half the size of the Las Vegas show.

“We’ve already seen a tremendous response from exhibitors who want to be in the show,” says Bond. “And a lot of buyers have said they like the idea of a show in Orlando at this time of year.” Orlando, in addition to warm winter weather, offers the high-tech attraction of Disney World and the educational focus of Epcot Center.

The show will include a conference program tailored to the needs of independent jewelers, similar to the program presented at JCK’s Las Vegas shows.

Professional Exposition Management Co., which manages JCK’s Las Vegas shows, will manage the new show also.

High-volume conference: The new conference for high-volume jewelers &endash; called New Horizons ’96, Winning Strategies for the Majors &endash; will debut in February 1996, also in Orlando.

New Horizons will target a select group of chief executives and marketing experts from some of the largest high-volume jewelry sellers in the U.S., including major independent and chain jewelers, department stores, mass merchants, and TV and other electronic sellers of jewelry store products. They will meet with major industry suppliers to discuss common challenges and issues.

The project director for New Horizons is Pattie Light, formerly head of corporate communications for Sterling Inc. and now principal in Creative Corporate Communications, Akron, Ohio. For information on New Horizons, contact Light at (216) 666-6069, fax (216) 666-8467, or JCK’s Marilyn McLaughlin, (610) 964-4479, fax (610) 964-4481.

New Horizons will be repeated in 1997 at the time of the new spring show.

WJA HOSTS AWARDS

Women who have excelled in jewelry marketing/advertising/ public relations; design; retail; sales; editorial/publishing; and as manufacturer/dealer/supplier were honored at the Women’s Jewelry Association’s 12th annual Awards of Excellence banquet. The ceremony was held July 23, at Tavern on the Green in New York City.

This year’s winners include: Myriam, Patricia and Anita Gumuchian of Gumuchian Fils Inc., New York, for design; Deborah Hiss Odell, Gemological Institute of America, Santa Monica, Cal., for marketing, advertising and public relations; JCK Fashion Editor Hedda Schupak for editorial reporting and publishing; Linda Pierpoint Aulisio of General Findings, Los Angeles, for sales; Osnat Gad of Osnat Gad Inc., New York, for manufacturer, dealer or supplier; and Candy Udell of London Jewelers, Glen Cove, N.Y., for retail.

Additionally, Kathryn Kimmel of GIA was named to the WJA Hall of Fame for outstanding accomplishments in her overall career.

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS CONTRACT WILL BE SIGNED

A key Russian official indicates that the stalemate between De Beers and Russia’s diamond hierarchy over a new marketing contract has been broken.

Moscow press reports say that Leonid Gourevich, deputy director of the State Committee on Precious Stones and an outspoken supporter of an independent Russian diamond industry, said the two sides have resumed talks and could sign an agreement before the contract expires in December.

The statement followed a meeting with De Beers, Russian vice president Viktor Chernomyrdin, deputy prime minister Oleg Davydov and officials of the Russian agencies which govern diamond mining and marketing.

Gourevich, who earlier espoused Russian independence from De Beers, said, “The situation in Russia’s diamond industry is changing rapidly and so is our perception of our role in world markets. Any new agreement should take account of these changes.”

De Beers officials, invoking an earlier agreement not to discuss contract negotiations publicly, offered no comment.

SEARCH FOR DIRECTOR DELAYS AGS LAB

The American Gem Society plans to open its diamond grading laboratory in September or October rather than July as planned because a lab director hasn’t been hired yet.

“Our goal is to find the best lab director, not meet a hiring deadline,” said Tom Dorman, AGS executive director.

Funding for the lab is “99% there” and should be completed by the time the lab director is hired, he added. The for-profit lab is being built at AGS headquarters in Las Vegas, Nev., with a total budget of $990,000, including an operating capital fund. All clients and shareholders in the venture are AGS members.

Under current plans, only AGS member retailers and suppliers will be able to use the lab. However, AGS suppliers will be able to use the reports in dealings with non-AGS customers.

The lab will be staffed by a lab manager, a senior grader and two graders. At the outset, they will be able to process 200 stones weekly with a turnaround of five working days or fewer, said Dorman.

The lab will grade a diamond’s cut as well as its color and clarity. Dorman said no decision had been reached as of late July whether the lab will use Tolkowsky proportions (the so-called Ideal Cut) as the standard for the top cut grade.

DPS AND GIA TEAM UP TO BUILD DIAMOND SALES

To help jewelers improve their Christmas diamond sales, the Diamond Promotion Service and the Gemological Institute of America will offer training seminars under the slogan “Forget Santa Claus. The DPS and the GIA are coming to town!”

The day-long seminars will be presented in 24 cities between Oct. 3 and Nov. 9 and will comprise two parts:

  • In the morning, GIA instructors will offer a condensed version of the institute’s “Day with Diamonds” seminar, which deals with the 4C’s, diamond sources, fancy shapes and modern cutting styles. In addition to boosting sales, GIA hopes the program will serve as an introduction to the institute. “We want to whet people’s appetite for more education in diamonds and for a career in retailing,” says William E. Boyajian, president of GIA.

  • In the afternoon, DPS will focus on sales techniques. “We want to encourage and motivate diamond jewelry sales associates to suggest, as well as to show, higher-priced diamond jewelry…with a heavy concentration on romance,” says Walter Ife, DPSexecutive director. The presentation will include real selling situations, effective selling techniques and videos of industry leaders describing their emotions as they work with diamonds.

The target audience is primarily new jewelry store employees and those who need to refresh their selling skills and knowledge about diamonds, says Ife. Organizers hope to attract 3,500 to 4,000 salespeople overall.

The registration fee is $20 per person ($10 per person for groups of 50+ from the same company).

The seminar locations and dates: Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 17; Baltimore, Md., Oct. 11; Boston, Mass., Oct. 11; Charlotte, N.C., Oct. 19; Chicago, Ill., Oct. 27; Dallas, Tex., Oct. 23; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Nov. 7; Hartford, Conn., Oct. 13; Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 2; Houston, Tex., Oct. 25; Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 25; Los Angeles, Cal., Oct. 19; Minneapolis, Minn., Oct. 23; New Orleans, La., Nov. 2; Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 13; Phoenix, Ariz., Oct. 31; Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 9; Portland, Ore., Oct. 3; Raleigh, N.C., Oct. 31; Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 9; St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 27; San Francisco, Cal., Oct. 17; Seattle, Wash., Oct. 5; and Tampa, Fla., Nov. 9.

Diamond Promotion Service, Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019; (800) 370-6789.

ROYAL JEWELS TO STAR AT SOTHEBY’S IN OCTOBER

The jewels of kings and queens will go on the block at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewelry auction Oct. 25 in New York City. The gems and jewelry once belonged to the royal families of France, England, Austria and Sicily and are part of a private collection.

One highlight is a necklace with 28 Old Mine-cut diamonds that originally adorned Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, in a comb a pampilles, a group of diamond “chains” and a diamond hair ornament worn for royal christenings. The French Ministry of Finance auctioned the comb in May 1887 to Tiffany & Co., which sold the chain portion to Junius Morgan, father of financier J.P. Morgan. His granddaughter, Mary Ethel Burns, who became Lady Harcourt of England after her marriage to First Viscount Harcourt, had the diamonds mounted into the necklace offered at this sale. The presale estimate is $150,000-$200,000.

Another highlight is a diamond corsage ornament that Archduke Charles of Austria gave to his daughter, the Archduchess Therese (1816-1867). The archduchess married King Ferdinand II of Sicily in 1837, and eventually the brooch passed to their daughter, Maria Pia, whose initials are still visible on it. The presale estimate is $40,000-$50,000.

Other pieces in the collection are styled similarly to those worn in the courts of George III and Queen Victoria of England and Napoleon I of France.

The most expensive piece of the sale will likely be a 6.7-ct. deep blue heart-shaped diamond with a presale estimate of $2 million to $2.5 million. The sale also will include a 9.98-ct. fancy light pink diamond (presale estimate, $500,000 -$600,000) and a 17.34-ct. D flawless diamond ring from Van Cleef & Arpels (presale estimate unavailable).

Dimitri of Yugoslavia, vice president of Sotheby’s jewelry department in New York, says the diversity and scope “of rare gemstones and antique jewelry ranks this among the top single-owner collections ever offered at auction.”

HSN UPGRADES OPERATIONS

The Home Shopping Network capped a year-long overhaul of its merchandising strategy and operations with an official relaunch in August. The pioneer in at-home TV shopping and seventh-largest U.S. jewelry retailer is upgrading its products and image to reverse several years of flat sales, which run about $1 billion annually.

Since last fall, HSN has:

  • Hired a new chief operating officer. David F. Dyer, former vice chairman of merchandising and sales for Land’s End, the global direct marketing giant, was hired to boost the quality and value of products sold on HSN and develop private-label goods. He also has added around-the-clock customer service, product quality standards, stylish packaging and reduced delivery times.

  • Significantly changed on-air selling techniques.

  • Instituted scheduled programming. Regularly scheduled shows &endash; only 20% of programming in January &endash; will total 80% by year’s end.

  • Hired a dozen veteran merchandising executives and designers to create “value-enriched products” exclusively for HSN. They include Penny Berg, a one-time Zale Corp. executive and now vice president of HSN’s fine jewelry division, and veteran designer Mako Miyashiro, formerly with Monet, who will develop private-label fashion jewelry lines for HSN. Though HSN is increasing its business in soft goods (apparel, accessories, etc.), jewelry remains its best-selling category, providing 41% of annual revenues.

  • Merged its two largest shopping channels &endash; HSN1 and HSN2 &endash; into a single, larger HSN. It also has revamped its Spree! channel, which accounts for about 10% of revenues. It becomes an impulse buyers’ source of closeouts and clearance goods, like the old HSN, to hold its core audience.

  • Begun creating its own private-label merchandise. One on the drawing board is a cubic zirconia jewelry line called Absolute, priced at $39-$300 retail. Already introduced are a line named for singer Donna Summers and one called “Hollywood Gold” featuring large 10k gold pieces.

  • Officially relaunched the “new HSN,” as its officials call it, on Aug. 5 with new sets, new graphics, fully-scheduled programming and even a new logo.

Despite the changes, HSN’s financial results for the first half of fiscal 1995, ended June 30, were disappointing. HSN members bought less and net sales tallied $490.2 million, down 10.6% from 1994. It posted a net loss of $18.5 million for the six months.

Those results “are not much cause of celebration,” concedes Gerry Hogan, chief executive officer, but “we anticipated the first half would be difficult, as we implemented our new merchandising and programming plans.” Dyer expects results “will improve significantly when the new products and programming come together during the fall and holiday seasons.”

HSN, on 24 hours a day, is the largest U.S. television shopping service, reaching more than 65 million households. About five million are “active HSN households,” half of which make two or more purchases a year.

GREEK JEWELERS EXPAND EXPORT EFFORTS TO U.S.

The Hellenic Export Promotion Organization of Greece and the Greek Trade Office in New York City have launched an image and marketing campaign called Jewelers of Greece. The goal is to increase awareness and promote sales of Greek jewelry in the U.S.

Jewelers of Greece launched its U.S. marketing program with an educational seminar on doing business in the U.S. The seminar, held in July in New York, included workshops on understanding the U.S. buyer’s mind-set, the structure of the U.S. retail jewelry market and how it operates, and on preparing an effective marketing plan. Participating were companies that exhibited in the Greek pavilion at the JA International Jewelry Show.

“This is the first time the Greek jewelry community has been assembled specifically to develop a complete and comprehensive plan for building a significant business in the United States,” says Yannis Papdimitriou, director of the Greek Trade Office. “By creating Jewelers of Greece, we will be able to effectively communicate the desirability of Greek jewelry.”

The U.S. marketing program has three main segments:

  • An educational program on the nature of the U.S. market.

  • A public relations program to inform the U.S. trade and public about the history and breadth of Greek jewelry.

  • A continuing marketing program for the display, promotion, sale and distribution of Greek jewelry lines. The program will include an image marketing campaign and direct mail, public relations and advertising programs.

Janos Consultants of New York, N.Y., will direct the promotional effort. “Greek jewelry has long been recognized for its beautiful design and intricate craftsmanship,” says Ben Janowski, president of Janos Consultants. “This past spring, the Metropolitan Museum of Art recognized this tradition with a special exhibit. Our goal is to acquaint U.S. consumers with today’s Greek jewelry so they will appreciate it as much as yesterday’s classical designs.”

Janos Consultants, 435 E. 79 St., New York, N.Y. 10021; (212) 288-1155.

AGTA, PGI-USA ANNOUNCE JEWELRY DESIGN CONTEST

The American Gem Trade Association and the Platinum Guild International USA have joined forces to create AGTA Spectrum Platinum Honors.

“Platinum use in Spectrum entries has increased dramatically over the past two years,” says Peggy Willett, executive director of AGTA. Laurie Hudson, president of PGI-USA, adds that platinum use for fine jewelry has increased 300% in the past three years, making it the fastest-growing segment in today’s fine jewelry market. Both organizations feel that adding a special category to the Spectrum competition is an effective way to increase retail jewelers’ ability to sell both products.

Any entry will be considered automatically for Platinum Honors if it meets existing qualifications for the Spectrum competition and at least 75% of the metal used in it is platinum. AGTA Spectrum Award entries are judged on effective use and quality of colored gemstones, beauty, wearability, innovative design and quality of workmanship.

Entry forms were mailed to designers, manufacturers and retailers in the U.S. and Canada in late August. Deadline for entries is this Oct. 20. Those interested in the platinum segment should call (800) 972-1162 to ensure they are on the mailing list.

For information, contact Lisa Labrado at PGI, (714) 760-8279, or Peggy Willett at AGTA, (214) 742-4367.

TWO RULINGS AFFECT HARRY WINSTON ESTATE

Two recent court rulings intensified a five-year legal battle between the sons of Harry Winston over their parents’ estate.

  • A New York judge in August revoked his earlier decision giving Ronald Winston &endash; chairman of Harry Winston Inc., New York City’s luxury Fifth Avenue jeweler &endash; control over the estate and family trust set up by his father. He also said trustees could sell its assets, if necessary, to ensure Bruce Winston, the other son, received the value of the trust provided for him by the will.

  • In June, a Florida circuit court judge ordered Ronald Winston to repay several million dollars to the estate of his late mother, Edna. Half of that would go to Bruce.

However, Kenneth L. Stein, attorney for Ronald Winston, said the New York ruling was “surprising” and will “likely be appealed” this year. An appeal of the Florida decision was filed Aug. 9, he said.

The will of Harry Winston, who died in 1978, put much of his multi-million-dollar estate into a marital trust, to be split equally between Ronald and Bruce after his wife Edna died. Ronald was entitled to his share outright; Bruce was to receive his over 20 years (20% every five years)

Edna died in 1986. In 1990, Ronald, a trustee of the trust, transferred his shares to his direct control. That action, plus his management of the family businesses and his veto (allowed by the will) over majority decisions of the trustees, was challenged by Bruce and the other two trustees.

They said the stock was needed to satisfy obligations of and claims against the trust. Ronald contended his action minimized the expense of trustee commissions. Surrogate Court Judge Albert Emanuelli, who oversees legal issues involving the estate, in 1992 “conditionally” allowed Ronald’s actions, including his veto power over management of the trust.

In August, Emanuelli approved a petition of Bruce and the other two trustees and revoked his 1992 ruling. He said Ronald’s actions had made stock in the trust “valueless” due to, among other things, the corporation’s “downward spiral of loss” since Harry Winston’s death, based on corporate records on file with the court, and “Ronald’s declared intent” never to pay dividends due to “lack of profitability,” though he raised his own salary from $248,000 in 1979 to $1.1 million in 1990.

Emanuelli contended that Harry Winston didn’t intend to “enrich Ronald at Bruce’s expense.” That is “simply not supported by a reasonable…interpretation of the will.” However, Stein, Ronald’s lawyer, said Winston never intended the business he built to be “sacrificed” for Bruce’s lifestyle.

Emanuelli ordered Ronald Winston, as well as Bruce and the trustees, to return all stock to the trust which had been distributed to them at Ronald’s direction; stripped Ronald of his veto and said, “all decisions affecting the trust will be made by a majority of the trustees.”

The trustees are under “no duty to perpetuate the business enterprise,” he said and directed them to “distribute the trust in a manner consistent with [Harry Winston’s] intent, which may necessitate sale of all or part of the trust’s assets to a third party.”

And in Florida: In 1979, a New York court ruled Edna incompetent after a brain hemorrhage and put her sons in charge of her affairs. Though she allegedly had willed her estate to both sons outright, they transferred her assets to the trust fund in 1983 to reduce inheritance taxes. In 1991, Bruce filed suit against Ronald in Florida, where their mother died, contending he had been tricked because the transfer put his half of his mother’s bequest out of his reach for years.

In June this year, Florida circuit judge William Clayton ordered Ronald to repay several million dollars, plus interest, to his mother’s estate, so that Bruce can have access to his half.

FRIEDMAN’S MAY INVEST IN CRESCENT JEWELERS

Friedman’s Inc. of Savannah, Ga., the third-largest U.S. retail jeweler, says it may make a major investment in Crescent Jewelers, an 81-store chain based in Oakland, Cal. The firm also has entered the superstore arena with its first “power center” store.

The investment is significant but will amount to buying less than 50% of Crescent, says John Call, chief financial officer of Friedman’s. The Crescent stores have annual sales of $90 million to $100 million. “[Crescent] has good volume, though it needs some help with cost containment,” says Call.

The two companies know each other well. Both are owned by affiliates of Morgan Schiff, a New York City investment capital company. Friedman’s uses Crescent’s management information system. And Bradley J. Stinn, president and chief executive officer of Friedman’s, was formerly Crescent’s chief financial officer.

The deal was still being considered at press time. However, Stinn already has been named chairman and chief executive officer of Crescent.

The investment in Crescent, if approved, would be financed with money raised when Friedman’s issued 2.6 million shares of common stock at $19 each in May, its second public offering since 1993. The $44.8 million net proceeds “improved our capitalization significantly and enhanced Friedman’s capacity to continue its power strip expansion plan and take advantage of other growth opportunities,” says Stinn.

Those opportunities include, in addition to the investment in Crescent, Friedman’s first store in a power shopping center, as opposed to power strip centers, where most of the company’s growth has been since 1992. (A power center is a metropolitan shopping center with several major retailers in superstore formats. Power strips are small-town shopping centers usually anchored by one or two major discount retailers.) The store, which opened June 24 in Norfolk, Va., measures 3,500 sq. ft., about 2,000 sq. ft. more than its other stores. It has “a larger store footprint, a greater merchandise selection and a greater range of in-store services than our small-town strip center stores,” says Stinn. If this one succeeds, he adds, the company will open more stores with this format.

Meanwhile, Friedman’s reported record gains for the third quarter and first nine months of fiscal 1995. Sales rose 60% to $28.6 million in the quarter and 62% to $96.1 million in the nine months ended June 30. Net income ballooned 82% to $1.9 million in the quarter and 74% to $9.6 million in the nine months.

Friedman’s had 201 stores in 13 southern states on July 31. The company plans to own 210-230 stores by Christmas and to add 60-80 more in 1996.

JA GAVEL PASSES TO NEW PRESIDENT

Dale Perelman, president of King’s Jewelry in New Castle, Pa., took the reins as president of Jewelers of America during the JA International Jewelry Show in July.

He succeeds Lee Berg of Lee Michaels Jewelers in Baton Rouge, La.

Serving with Perelman as JA officers are Stanley Pollack of G.M. Pollack & Sons, Scarborough, Maine, vice president; Lex Harrison of Harrison’s Jewelers, Chubbuck, Idaho, secretary; and Mary Ball Gorman of Henry B. Ball West, Akron, Ohio, treasurer.

CLARIFICATION

The article “RapNet tunes into the Internet”(August JCK, page 52) left the mistaken impression that Internet subscribers will get Rapaport Report diamond prices and information for free.

“That is not the case,” says Martin Rapaport, who operates RapNet and publishes the diamond price sheet. “While we will be providing a full range of diamond prices and trading information on the Internet, our intention is to limit access to our prices and interdealer trading data to the trade only. Members of the trade will require a unique and secure personal RapNet password and logon in order to access this information.”

What will be open to the public and trade are conferences designed to encourage electronic dialog between consumers and jewelers throughout the world. Additional conference channels will be limited to the trade.

ZALE SALES RISE 12.8%, TOP $1 BILLION IN FISCAL ’95

Zale Corp., the largest U.S. jewelry retailer, rang up sales of $1.04 billion for fiscal 1995, ended July 31. That was up 12.6% from $920.3 million in fiscal ’94, according to preliminary results released Aug. 8. Comparable store sales increased 12.8%.

This was the second full-year report since Zale exited bankruptcy reorganization in July 1993 and it’s first time over the billion dollar mark since fiscal 1992.

Sales for the fourth quarter totaled $221.4 million, up 5.8% from last year’s $199.9 million. Comparable store sales rose 7.1%.

(Final earning figures are due to be released this month, but Thomas E. Whiddon, Zale senior vice president and treasurer, said they are “expected to be higher” than last year’s $12.6 million.)

The “continued strong sales performance” for the quarter and fiscal year “further confirm the success of the programs we have implemented and the positive effect of our `back to basics’ format,” said Robert J. DiNicola, chairman and chief executive officer of Zale.

“It’s basically a matter of Retailing 101,” said Whiddon, “giving the customer what he or she wants at the right quality and price.”

As of July 31, 1995, Zale Corp. operated 1,177 retail stores and leased departments in the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.