April 2008

Watchmakers Lead the Green Charge

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For the Earth’s Sake

back in september, the jck editorial staff began discussing the concept of a “green” issue; i.e., one devoted to environmental concerns in the jewelry industry. getting it right took some debate. jck has covered environmental issues in the past, but mainly in terms of manufacturing practices, not in the broader scope of mining and preservation of the earth.

Retailers Learn to Go Green

green is the undisputed buzzword of the moment. businesses from automotive to plumbing to, of course, fashion and jewelry, are “going green”—working to create a culture of environmental responsibility—in an effort to safeguard the earth. while the jewelry industry has much work to do before proclaiming itself completely eco-friendly, many jewelers are taking preliminary …

Zale to Close 105 Stores, Cut 225 Positions

zale will close 105 stores—more than previously announced—and cut 225 staff positions, the company announced recently. by the end of fiscal year 2008, it will have approximately 2,145 retail locations. the closings will result in $65 million in savings, the company said. ninety-five of the affected stores are underperforming, the company said.

Franck Muller Stops More Gray Marketers

the last of several court judgments barring gray market trafficking in watches with the franck muller trademark was issued in december 2007. the ruling affected 11 retailers and owners that operate in manhattan’s diamond district. franck muller usa is the exclusive authorized importer and wholesale distributor of swiss luxury franck muller watches in the united states, canada, and the caribbean.

Fading Independents?

the year 2007 ended with retailing generally reporting mixed results, with many saying it was a poor year. mall stores did not do nearly as well as last year. we also know that, according to the jewelers board of trade, the number of jewelry operations in the united states is declining, as it has for many years, but more precipitously in the last couple of years.

Citizen Completes Acquisition of Bulova

citizen watch co. ltd. in january completed the $250 million acquisition of global timekeeping company bulova corp. from loews corp. bulova, founded in 1875, and headquartered in woodside, n.y., has offices in switzerland, canada, mexico, and the far east. citing a “strategic commitment to becoming a multi-brand company,” citizen said in a statement that it will operate bulova as a…

Maurice Lacroix’s Upscale Makeover

maurice lacroix s.a., the swiss luxury watch, is making significant changes in the united states and worldwide to take it higher in the luxury sphere. in the past year, maurice lacroix north america added a new president/chief executive officer and a marketing director. it streamlined products, began sharply reducing its retail outlets, and launched a new ad campaign (part of a global marketing…

Things That Keep You Awake at Night

this month’s counterpoint will touch on two topics. one is a personal mea culpa. the other is a topic discussed at the plumb club forum. mea culpa is latin for “through my fault.” i use it to acknowledge an error i made in an earlier column where i stated jabel was no longer in business.

Principles of Sales Management, Part 2

this month i detail the second half of the 16 principles of sales management. remember, the sales manager’s job is to give his or her people the help they need to be successful. a strong sales staff equals a successful store. remember a successful sales staff is completely trained, working toward objectives, held accountable for performance, and rewarded based on results.

Diamdel Holds E-Auctions

de beers subsidiary diamdel recently auctioned rough diamonds from its web site, diamdel.com, and said it was “delighted” with the results. “participation and results all exceed[ed] expectations,” a statement said. “before the auction, all 16 lots were made available for viewing to potential buyers in several of the world’s major diamond centres.

DTC Lifts Sightholder Suspensions

it was considered the first big test of de beers’ best practice principles ethical code, but it ended with a puzzling about-face. at the beginning of the year, de beers suspended six sightholders, all indian-owned firms based in antwerp, belgium, for their role in what is known as the brenig case. gerald brenig, a former diamond trader, received two years in jail for his role in a scheme invol…

Friedman’s Gets Auction Approval

friedman’s jewelers, currently in chapter 11, has won bankruptcy court approval to sell off its assets, according to wire reports. at press time, an auction was scheduled for march 6. in early march, friedman’s had not yet named a leading bidder, the associated press said, though if it does, the first competing bid must exceed the leading bidder’s offer by $500,000.

Cleaning the Green Charge Up the Mines

for centuries, mining for precious metals and gems has often caused harm to the local people, wildlife, and environment. in the united states, for example, half the mercury contamination in san francisco bay is traceable to the 1849 california gold rush. in colorado, u.s. taxpayers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to contain contamination in one town’s local rivers from a 1990s-b…

Lord & Taylor Buys Fortunoff

lord & taylor reportedly has received court approval for its purchase of fortunoff, the famed furnishings and jewelry retailer that filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in january. lord & taylor, owned by hedge fund nrdc equity partners, says it wants to make fortunoff a national chain and open up fortunoff boutiques in its stores.

Gem Pricing Report

the jewelry industry continues to feel pressure from a slow economy. jewelers say the slow market combined with high prices for gold and platinum have opened opportunities for buying used jewelry and gemstones over the counter. dealers report that many consumers are coming into stores seeking offers and advice on liquidating their jewelry.

Mr. Bates Wins a Neal!

i’ve just returned from the waldorf-astoria ballroom, where i had the pleasure of seeing our diamond editor, rob bates, win a jesse h. neal award for excellence in business-to-business editorial! the awards, often referred to as “the pulitzer prize of the business media,” are the industry’s most prestigious honor.

Cultural Revolution

rob bates’s article on laboratory-grown diamonds, “the cultured club” (jck, january 2008, p. 76), is an informative and balanced status report on the state of the industry. as one who has had a role with most of the major players going back to 2001, i would like to add a few comments in an effort to round out the picture for those thinking about participating in the business or thos…

Don’t Let the Vote Rock You This Year

while it may come as no surprise, it’s an election year, and that has several direct effects on your jewelry business that you need to accept, work around, and take advantage of. or you can sit on the sidelines moaning about the sorry state of retail and your relative location on the jewelry food chain.

Clear-Conscience Color

retail jewelers who can document where their colored stones inventory was mined and how it was fashioned will have an advantage over those who don’t, as consumers become more particular about how their gems came to market. as a first step, retailers can focus on u.s. and canadian gemstones, where environmental policies, workers’ rights, and mine-to-market transparency are standard p…

Yes, You Can Sell Platinum!

i just can’t sell platinum right now. it’s too expensive.” it’s a common refrain among retailers, even in higher-end stores, but platinum guild international begs to differ. the organization’s goal, of course, is to get retailers to sell more of the metal, but its executives recognize the challenges jewelers face in today’s market.

Stuller Dismisses 45

jewelry manufacturer and distributor stuller, lafayette, la., is reducing its workforce by 45 employees in a realignment of its management team. jck has learned that among the dismissed were joseph buttross, stuller’s vice president for diamonds, and ray weiland, vice president of manufacturing.

Roger Dubuis S.A., Former Distributor End Dispute

swiss luxury watchmaker roger dubuis s.a. and former u.s. distributor helvetia time corp. (which did business as roger dubuis north america inc.) in january dropped legal actions against each other, which began with a dispute in 2005. roger dubuis s.a. hasn’t had an active u.s. distributor since 2006.

Employee Training Is Crucial

training is the key factor that sets apart major retailers like sterling and zales from independent retailers. large retail jewelry companies prefer to hire people that have retail experience but not retail jewelry experience. they’d rather do their own training and not have to deal with the bad habits of new hires.

Village Jewelers

while most jewelers look to increase business through expansion, dean thomas has found that bigger isn’t always better. thomas, owner of village jewelers in du quoin, ill., recently sold his building and moved to a smaller stand-alone location down the block to focus solely on jewelry. village jewelers specializes in custom jewelry, diamond fashion rings, and colored stone jewelry.

Perfect Phrases Can Help Jewelers Hire Perfect Candidates

from recruiting to interviewing to making an offer, preparing the right phrases and questions during the hiring process is essential to attracting good candidates and gaining the information you need to ensure their success. perfect phrases for perfect hiring, the latest in mcgraw-hill’s “perfect phrases” series, provides a blueprint to address these issues.

Beyond Survival

israel’s diamond industry offers an outstanding example of how to flourish in the face of potentially devastating change. jewelers who worry about surviving in a volatile marketplace would do well to note how the israelis keep their industry growing. by historical standards, the diamond industry in israel should be in decline.

Watchmakers Lead the Green Charge

want a good example of an eco-friendly product? look at your watch. the watch industry has been a leader in the environmental movement, producing products and using procedures that are environmentally responsible. for years, the primary environmental concern about watches was the silver-oxide batteries that power most quartz varieties (95 percent of all watches).

Diamond Dealers Club Retains Term Limits

after a meeting described as “raucous,” “contentious,” and a “near riot,” the diamond dealers club decided to retain its term limits for elected positions. the proposal was part of a package of bylaws changes, which required two-thirds approval to pass. in the end, proponents fell short of that two-thirds.

BHP Makes Second Bid for Rio Tinto

mega-miner bhp has made a second unsolicited offer for rival rio tinto, but the offer again has been rejected. bhp offered 3.4 shares of its stock for one share of rio tinto, up from its previous 3-for-1 proposal. rio said the offer “undervalues” the company. bhp has not indicated whether it will sweeten its offer for a third try.

Ginger Dick Dies

longtime gem and jewelry writer ginger dick died feb. 10 at the age of 62, from heart-related issues. born beverly barnes, she is best known in the industry by her pen name, ginger dick. her byline regularly appeared in american jewelry manufacturer (now mjsa journal), jewellery international, diamonds international, jewelsiam, accent, diamontaire, new york diamonds, national jeweler, the golds…

The Quest for Fair Trade Diamonds

say you’re an ethical consumer. you don’t want to own diamonds associated with the atrocities you saw in the movie blood diamond. so you buy from brilliantearth.com, or another seller of canadian stones. there’s no civil war in canada. you’ve made the principled decision, right? not necessarily. global witness and partnership africa canada, the two nongovernmental organizations nominated for a …