July 2009

Keep Your Salespeople Psyched!

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Gem Pricing Report

the gem industry is seeing a slight uptick in activity. however, this has been most evident among custom jewelers and designers. unusual gems and lower price points remain the focus of consumer spending. sales of standard stock items are very slow. credit remains a factor as banks have tightened their lending standards.

Jewelers Try to Navigate the UCCs

shanu singh guliani, owner of shanu’s fine jewelry, pembroke pines, fla., and a blogger for jckonline.com, was surprised when a supplier asked her to sign a consignment and security agreement. “i had never seen this kind of form in my life,” she says. the supplier explained he needed her signature to file a uniform commercial code form for goods she had received on consignment.

The Show Dilemma

the 2009 editions of the luxury show, couture, and the jck show are now in the history books. it appeared to this observer that the traffic and the mood of the industry were down. though the state of the industry remains difficult at the retail level, it is even tougher in the wholesale and manufacturing sectors.

How to Deal With Difficult Customers

The Arguer is ready to haggle and looks to establish an adversarial relationship, believing it will help him get the best deal. Disarm this customer by remaining calm and professional, listening to him and showing him respect. Do not get into a debate or allow him to make you feel inadequate. One way to deal…

Book Smarts

the cost of bad behavior: how incivility is damaging your business and what to do about it, by christine pearson and christine porath, portfolio, $25.95 (240 pages) most americans have encountered unpleasant or even hostile colleagues and bosses, but incivility is more than just a human resources problem: it also has a financial cost, argue pearson and porath, management professors at thunderb…

Finlay’s Future in Doubt

noting that it has already defaulted on its latest credit agreement, finlay said in its latest filing that there were “substantial doubt[s]” about its “ability to continue as a going concern.” “we experienced a significant operating loss in 2008 and are expected to have an operating loss in 2009,” the company said.

CAD/CAM, New Location Boost Smith & Bevill

in the portland, ore., area smith & bevill jewelers is known for both custom work and repair work, which represent 35 percent and 10 percent of the company’s operations, respectively. but in 2004, as these sectors expanded, the store outgrew its space. making a virtue of necessity, owner bill bevill moved from a 2,500-square-foot location to an 8,500-square-foot location where he created a …

Tighten Your Belt (But Let Out Some Optimism)

while retailers have adjusted sales forecasts, and consumers have reined in spending, jck luxury has trimmed some pages from its editorial portfolio and hitched a ride inside this issue of jck. belt-tightening is a sign of the times, but it doesn’t mean that hopes, desires—or, in jck luxury’s case, content—are anemic.

Inspiration Leads to Sales-peration

keeping your staff happy and motivated is a key factor in increasing sales per employee. david peters, director of education for jewelers of america, offers these tips at right: for more tips from jewelers of america, sign up to receive the “tips to thrive” e-newsletter at www.jewelers.org.

Get Press—Without a Release

another way to communicate with the public and get your store’s name into the local paper is to write a letter to the editor. you can do that by responding to a news item or feature story that appeared there. here are five tips:

Increase Your Customer Base

it has been said that as much as 70–80 per-cent of a retail store’s sales volume comes from 20–30 percent of its customer base. what you don’t often hear is that you’re probably losing 25–30 percent of your customer base annually. customers die, move, lose jobs, switch to the competition, and reach an age at which they don’t buy jewelry.

Robbins Bros. CEO: ‘Chapter 11 Is Behind Us’

andy heyneman, president and ceo of robbins bros., spoke to jck just after a court allowed robbins bros. jewelry, an affiliate of investment firm weston presidio, to purchase 10 of its 16 stores, after the chain filed for chapter 11. (the rest were purchased by canada’s spence diamonds.) heyneman, who was president of the chain prior to bankruptcy and will continue heading it, spoke about…

Keep Your Salespeople Psyched!

traffic is down. so are sales. newspaper headlines are uniformly negative. so how do you keep your salespeople’s morale from drooping as well? it’s a real problem, say retailers. “my salespeople are working just as hard as they did last year for less money,” notes brian toone, president and chief executive officer of the jewelry design center in spokane, wash.

How to Create Problem-Solving Employees

has this ever happened to you? it’s one of those days, an endless stream of issues and problems. your top two salespeople are at each other’s throats again, and no one can make a decision without your approval. if you’re the type of manager who likes to give advice, you may have created a staff lacking in problem-solving skills.

At Last

an editor in the design world loves yellow gold jewelry, statement pieces, and modern takes on classics. who is your favorite jewelry designer? i like the greek jeweler ilias lalaounis because they work in yellow gold, which looks good on me. i also like amrita singh, and amedeo scognamiglio for his modern takes on cameos set in wood or stone.

Pearls of Wisdom

joel schechter and ralph rossini, ceo and president, respectively, of honora pearls, recently discussed what’s working well and what needs to change in the jewelry business as well as common mistakes even the best retailers occasionally make. the words trust, fun, and fashionable were used time and again in our discussion.

Is De Beers No. 2?

it raised eyebrows when a statement from anglo-american said de beers’ diamond production dropped a whopping 90 per-cent in the first quarter of 2009. a new york times article about russian diamond producer alrosa then rubbed salt in the wound by writing, “russia quietly passed a milestone this year: surpassing de beers as the world’s largest diamond producer.

New Diamond Paradigm

change in the distribution of diamonds—the pipeline—is the subject of a presentation i made at the jck show. there is plenty to consider. the transition from a heavily controlled supply—the de beers monopoly—to a true demand-driven market is reaching its final stages. years ago, de beers acted as the ultimate buffer.

What ‘The Necklace’ Can Teach the Jewelry Industry

kate peterson, one of the industry’s leading business consultants and trainers, asked me a few months ago if i’d read the necklace. “read what necklace?” (it was early morning at the centurion show, and i hadn’t had my coffee yet.) “it’s a book,” she explained. “it’s an amazing true story about 13 women who all pitch in to buy a diamond riviere necklace and then t…

Just Treat It

an ongoing practice in jewelry is to scorch, coat, mix, and generally abuse metal until it gives you the color you want. we’re talking about treatments and alloys, which have wrought unexpected colors from gold, titanium, and platinum, giving retailers plenty of talking points for customers who want the newest and coolest jewels.

Are We There Yet?

summertime and the title question above go hand-in-hand. usually the question comes from road-weary children begging their parents for a rest stop. this year it’s being asked by our recession-weary nation, most of whose citizens have heard various reports pointing to recovery. gratifyingly, the recent jewelry shows in las vegas point to signs of life in an industry that’s taken this recession o…