February 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Diamond?

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Slow Holiday No Surprise

the 2008 holiday season has been dubbed “the worst in decades” for retail, and jewelry was no exception. luxury has been hard hit by the recession, and jewelry took a particular pounding. nevertheless, jck’s post-holiday survey found retailers that did better than expected. jewelers in the mountain region seemed best poised for the season.

Bring Your ‘A’ Team to the Jewelry Counter

the only way to survive the recession is to demand more from your employees than ever before. over the past year, we have mystery-shopped jewelry stores across the country, and the results we witnessed were not encouraging. aside from a laundry list of retail sins committed by salespeople behind the jewelry counter, what concerned us most was the general acceptance of substandard performance.

Jewelry Historian ‘Dr. Joe’ Dies

dr. joseph sataloff, a world-renowned expert on antique and estate jewelry, especially art nouveau jewelry, died sept. 26. he was 89. his art nouveau jewelry: a practical guide to its history and beauty is still considered the definitive reference standard for antique and estate jewelers. “he literally and figuratively wrote the book on art nouveau,” says diana singer, d&e sing…

Has Innovation Sailed Away?

there are a number of economic reasons for the recent shift of many american manufacturing companies to non-american ownership, including lower margins in the retail segment and the general shift of manufacturing to other countries. many non-american owners are vertically integrated and can realize profit at any level of jewelry production and sales.

From the Archives

in 1930, at the age of 62, the jewelers’ circular became a monthly publication, but its purposes as a “business paper” remained the same. today, as jck celebrates 140 years of helping jewelers make a profit, our purposes haven’t wavered. we would, however, add to the second purpose in the statement at left: “… to concentrate the attention of the busy man—and woman&…

Christian Bernard Goes Chapter 7

christian bernard jewelers, a 30-year-old jewelry chain of 15 stores, abruptly filed for chapter 7 on dec. 26. in a resolution accompanying its filing, the secaucus, n.j.–based company noted that “the company’s shops are underperforming. [t]he corporation’s existing lender has informed it that it may not renew the company’s current lines of credit” and “alternative credi…

Speidel Makes Timex Watchband Replacements

speidel is the new exclusive manufacturer and distributor of timex watchband replacements. the agreement covers replacement watchbands for all timex watches, including ironman. fred levinger, owner and chairman of speidel, east providence, r.i., noted the market for the timex watchbands includes more than 6,000 outlets.

From the JCKonline.com Blogs

rough diamonds have been used in their natural state by a few daring designers—frieden ag of thun, switzerland, is probably the best known for the look with its diamas collection, creating and showing exquisite rough-diamond pieces long before nicole kidman made news with bulgari’s rough diamond necklace.

Can U.S. Jewelry Manufacturers Survive?

since 2000, it has shrunk from 4,065 companies to 3,290 at the end of 2007, says jewelers board of trade. the average finished-jewelry manufacturer employs fewer than 50 workers, does $5 million to $8 million annually, and is confronting a serious recession, foreign competition, fewer skilled workers, and fewer purchases by jewelers.

U.S. Trade Deficit Falls in November

the u.s. census bureau and the u.s. bureau of economic analysis, through the department of commerce, says total november 2008 exports of $142.8 billion and imports of $183.2 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $40.4 billion, down from $56.7 billion in october, revised.

Meet the Manufacturers

in the jewelry industry, supplier-retailer relationships take many forms. some are little more than a voice on the phone or a face across the counter of a tradeshow booth, someone with whom you do business but have little personal interaction. others start out that way but grow into genuine friendships.

Robbins Diamonds

on a sunny day last fall, there was a strange sight in center city philadelphia. more than 650 people, wearing bright purple t-shirts emblazoned with a cartoon of famous philadelphia jeweler jerry robbins, tore up the town in a citywide treasure hunt to solve riddles, reach locations, and answer challenges, all in the hope of finding a $20,000 hearts on fire diamond ring.

Rolex CEO Resigns

patrick heiniger, 58, the chief executive officer of swiss luxury watchmaker rolex s.a., has unexpectedly resigned after 16 years, citing personal reasons. heiniger, who succeeded his father, andre, in 1992, was to have left by the end of 2008, a record year for the geneva-based watchmaker, says the company.

Newswire

new york state gov. david paterson proposed a sales tax on luxury items, including jewelry. under the proposal, those purchasing jewelry in excess of $20,000 would pay a 5 percent sales tax, according to media reports. wise jewelers, mount vernon, ohio, founded in 1828 and considered ohio’s oldest jeweler, will close.

Brother, Can You Spare a Diamond?

even the leanest economy is no match for true love, but when retirement accounts are tanking and unemployment is rising, the tangible expressions of love may need some help. thankfully, some jewelry designers are assisting budget-battered lovebirds by offering slimmed down and less diamond-intense versions of favorite ring styles.

GIA Slashes Staff, Salaries

the gemological institute of america reduced its workforce by 11 percent across “all departments on both coasts,” it confirmed to jck. executives took a 10 percent pay cut. “[the united states is] in a deep recession, and there is a liquidity crisis,” said its spokeswoman. “all aspects of the gem and jewelry industry have been severely affected.

Finlay Warns on Liquidity

finlay enterprises issued a warning that the u.s. recession had hurt its liquidity position, and it may not meet its financial obligations. finlay, which operates its own stores as well as counters in department store chains, added that its lenders decreased the borrowing availability under its revolving credit agreement and are performing another review that may further affect finlay jewelry’s…

Light at the End of the Tunnel

thank goodness for jewelry’s core business of valentine’s day, mother’s day, father’s day, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, special occasions, repairs, get-out-of-the-doghouse gifts, restyling/remounting shows, semiannual sales, watch battery and strap replacement, pearl strand restringing, insurance appraisals, trunk shows, and the fourth-quarter holidays scheduled in 2009 or else we’d all …

Jewelers Shot

two jewelers were shot recently during robbery attempts. in the first incident, a jewelry store owner in riverside, calif., was shot four times and critically wounded during a robbery in front of his home, according to media reports. two persons escaped with jewelry and bags of gold, police told the press-enterprise newspaper.

Gem Pricing Report

preliminary research suggests attendance at the eagerly awaited tucson show— in years past, a reliable indicator of the strength of the trade—will be lower than in recent years. however, key industry players are showing that they have responded rapidly to the changing economic environment.

Business School in a Book

the annual banquet weekend of the 24 karat club of the city of new york is always a great gathering and, between the gala banquet, the jvc and jsa luncheons, and the jic gem awards, an excellent chance to catch up and assess business. this year, of course, the news was subdued. but there also was a sense of determination: we’ve been through bad times before, and we’ll get through them again.

Bidz The Next Blue Nile?

when jewelers complain about the internet, they inevitably aim their verbal darts at blue nile. but another site is emerging that could be just as formidable a force. it’s called bidz.com, and whether jewelers have heard of it or not, it’s worth paying attention to. dealing primarily in closeouts, and with a genuinely appealing interface, bidz seems aimed at the kind of hardcore jewelry fans a…

Hot-Button Issues in Color

following are some of the critical gemstone issues that retailers should be aware of. burma ban: no ruby for u(s)! the tom lantos block burmese jade act of 2008 prevents rough or cut jadeite and rubies of burma origin from being imported into the united states. it doesn’t matter whether it’s carved in china, set in thailand, or an estate piece from europe.

ABN Amro Jewelry Group Copes With Changes

g. loet kniphorst, global director of the abn amro diamond and jewelry division, announced his retirement recently. kniphorst’s retirement comes as the jewelry group, which accounts for an estimated 25 percent of the industry’s financing, has been beset by sudden and unexpected changes. first, the division was purchased by scottish bank fortis.

Focus on Fashion

merchandising management includes not only inventory selection and pricing but also marketing and sales. this column will discuss how to integrate all the elements of merchandising to improve business performance. this month we address a key element that many jewelers ignore—fashion. jewelry stores are in the fashion business.

It’s a Wonderful LIFO

anew administration brings renewed efforts by lobbyists. the most important lobbyists for small businesses generally and retailers and jewelers specifically are the national federation of independent businesses, the national retail federation, and jewelers of america. “in these trying times, the needs of small business, especially, must be considered in congress,” says stephanie ca…

Making Cuts!

with the economic conditions that exist today, i keep hearing jewelers talking about making cuts in order to maintain profit. i agree that you must make some cuts today in order to maintain a profitable company. however, a cut in the wrong place can kill your business. let me caution you: do not cut your training budget.

What We Know and What We Don’t

i am reluctant to be too topical because it takes about two months before this column gets printed. but there is little doubt that 2009 will be a tough year for everyone, even with the extraordinary efforts our new president will muster to avert economic and social disaster. we know the government will throw money at everything in an effort to pull the country out of this nosedive.

Change

i’m writing this letter on inauguration day. according to the news, pretty much the whole country is caught up in this historic moment (polls are saying more than 80 percent of the country approves of the new president’s performance so far). there’s no doubt that a turning of the corner is needed in this country, especially in the economy.

Recession Impacts Jewelry Business

the deepening u.s. recession has affected more than half of the businesses in the north american jewelry industry, a jck survey found. most expect it to get worse before it gets better. forty-eight percent of retail jewelers polled said their businesses have been affected “somewhat” or “a great deal” by the economic crisis.

Glimmer of Good News

the u.s. bureau of economic analysis says personal income decreased $20.7 billion (0.2 per-cent), and disposable personal income decreased $11.8 billion (0.1 percent) in november 2008. personal consumption expenditures decreased $56.1 billion (0.6 percent). in october, personal income increased $11.3 billion (0.

Ethics Again?

some recent news stories reported the results of surveys on the topic of honesty and ethics. specifically, the surveys reported teens’ responses to questions on honesty. thirty percent of teens responded that they had shoplifted merchandise. better than 60 percent said they had cheated on tests at school.

How to Solve Employee Theft

employee theft skyrockets during the holiday season. some retail employees do their holiday shopping at work by dipping into their employers’ inventories. retailers are also at risk after the holidays. when january bills arrive, some employees realize that their holiday shopping sprees have put them in a financial bind.

Sami Zeira

jewelry designer sami zeira fell in love with the ancient technique of granulation during a visit to the greek island of santorini more than 10 years ago, but he isn’t stuck in the past. “what differentiates my designs from other granulation is that my jewelry is a cross between the ancient and the modern,” zeira says.

Made in Israel

israel wants you to get better acquainted with its growing design community, including some bold and innovative jewelry designers. the showcase for israeli jewelry is the jovella international jewelry exhibition, which celebrated its fifth annual edition in tel aviv this past summer. quintessential israeli design is direct, rough, improvised—and sometimes in your face.