July 2011

Best in Show

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Best in Show

From remarkable rocks to the topics that inspired their fair share of talks, we reflect on the memorable sights and sounds of JCK Las Vegas 2011 You may wonder how we could possibly cover every bit of a show that comprises more than 500,000 square feet, 2,550 exhibitors, and 20,000 attendees (representing 23 ­countries!) in…

Magic Carpet Ride

Beverly Hills jeweler Martin Katz was among the first to appreciate the power of celebrity marketing. Today, he’s still reaping the rewards of that epiphany. In the spring of 1992, jeweler Martin Katz was working at his kitchen table in the one-bedroom Beverly Hills apartment that doubled as his office when a call came in…

JCK 5: Bohemian Rhapsody

What better time than summertime to promote the eco-conscious looks of uncommon and organic materials such as wood, fossilized coral, mother-of-pearl, horn, and bone? Less precious than conventional jewelry, these repurposed beauties make a cost-effective statement ideal for the warm-weather months. Despite the challenge of working with sometimes-fussy materials (wood can break if overpolished), jewelers…

Gem

108 N. Marion St., Oak Park, Ill. After relocating her jewelry boutique last year from Chicago’s hip Bucktown to the Frank Lloyd Wright architectural haven Oak Park, designer Laura Kitsos feels right at home. Ensconced in the award-winning Marion Street district—a vibrant retail stretch paved with heated bluestone sidewalks—the 7-year-old Gem sells a decidedly eclectic…

The Record-Setting Rolex Ref. 4113

Unlike Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and other prestige brands that pride themselves on producing a highly limited ­selection of complicated timepieces for an elite ­clientele, Rolex has built a near-mythical reputation on a polar-opposite ­philosophy: The brand makes watches that are reliable, practical, and available—to the tune of nearly 1 million pieces per year. “Consequently,…

Pearls: Bernie Robbins & Honora Go Hollywood; Emiko’s Scorpion Sting

Top Hats & Pearls They say persistence pays off, and Harvey Rovinsky would agree. For four years, the president of Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers, with stores in Radnor and Newtown, Pa., and Marlton, Somers Point, and Atlantic City, N.J., has vied for the jewelry sponsorship of the 52nd Annual Century Club Gala hosted by the…

Bridal: Colonial Jewelers Takes the Cake; Ivanka Trump Goes Green

Can You Dig It? In 2009, Colonial Jewelers sweetened its annual Wedding Week by adding a Cake Dig. The event—a tad messy, a lot of fun, and definitely “a spectacle,” says store manager Sarah Hurwitz—invited locals to rip apart cakes for the chance to win a wedding package worth $5,000. It has since become an…

Silver: Bugging Out Over William Travis Kukovich’s Beetles

Plan Beetle Last summer, William Travis Kukovich, owner of William Travis Jewelry in Chapel Hill, N.C., found himself skimming tiny beetle carcasses out of his backyard swimming pool. Rather than being repulsed, he marveled at their beauty and encouraged his 5-year-old son to do the same. “I said, ‘Look at how pretty and colorful their…

Gold: Heather B. Moore Charms Us; Katy Briscoe Branches Out

Charm School When clients began asking Debbie Yeager to carry Heather B. Moore jewelry, the co-owner of 64-year-old Yeager Jewelers in Westlake, Ohio, knew it was time to get the line into her store. “There is a whole audience—some who are my customers and some I’d like to make my customers—who love Heather Moore designs,”…

Watches: Free FHH Workshops; Pricey Ikepod Hourglasses

Time for Higher Education For all the talk of the Swiss watch industry’s obsession with China, a few recent initiatives have underscored the trade’s commitment to the American market. Case in point: At a breakfast presentation in Las Vegas in June at the Swiss Watch at JCK show, representatives from the Foundation de la Haute…

Platinum: Long’s Jewelers’ Wedding Band March; John Apel’s Daisy Craze

He’s With the Band Craig Rottenberg, president of Long’s Jewelers, with five stores in Massachusetts, has a tried-and-true technique to help close more sales of platinum jewelry. It came in especially handy at Long’s annual Wedding Band Weekend event, held in late March at the 10,000-square-foot flagship in Burlington, Mass. Rottenberg calls his technique the…

Diamonds: De Beers’ Forevermark Launch; Christie’s $4.2 Million Sale

Now and Forevermark The long-awaited Forevermark—the new laser-inscribed diamond brand from the De Beers Group—has finally arrived stateside. Representing less than 1 percent of all graded diamonds, a Forevermark promotes stones—available only in a range of preapproved cuts, colors, and qualities—that have been brought from mine to market through a secure supply chain. But beyond…

Gem Pricing: Buy, Borrow, or Steal?

In a volatile marketplace racked by rising prices, cash is always king Results from JCK Las Vegas indicate that business continues to improve for the North American gem and jewelry trade. Attendance and sales were improved from the 2010 show. The market is seeing a range of attractive products created with both style and price…

From Mine to Store: Wendy Yue’s Brush With Nature

The telltale sign of a Wendy Yue cocktail ring? The fabulously rendered, almost-overwhelming presence of flora or fauna. Yue’s pieces always seem on the verge of coming to life: Green garnet stems curl down from a cherry blossom; a pink sapphire scorpion crawls across a coral rose; blooms, branches, and vines tangle together in a…

O Canada! JCK Toronto Lights Up Ontario’s Capital

Every August, Canada’s finest ­jewelers converge on Toronto to attend a buying show that may not rival the size of its sister event in Las Vegas, but makes up for that discrepancy with an intimate vibe and plenty of national pride. “It’s truly a Canadian show,” says John Tierney, event director for JCK Toronto. Formerly…

The Social Network

New York City’s market week offers plenty of chances to schmooze For those who don’t head west in June for the annual showdown in the Nevada desert, New York City’s unofficial “East Coast Market Week,” held at the end of July, may be worth a visit for the convenience and networking opportunities alone. Comprising the…

JCK 5: Privé at the Pierre

Expect a haute time in the city when these LUXURY Privé exhibitors come to town. Above:1. Earrings in 18k white gold with 2.43 cts. t.w. diamonds and 68 cts. t.w. rubies; $18,200; Katerina Maxine, New York City; 212-819-9408; katerinamaxine.com   2. From the G-One collection, a one-of-a-kind necklace with 450 cts. t.w. citrine beads and 475…

Tool Time: Retailers Get High-Tech

From jewelry cleaners to videoconferencing products, these devices are making a difference where it counts: at the sales counter. Dan Dement is known as “Mr. Gadget” among his retail peers. Explaining his insatiable need to stock the latest and greatest gadgets in his store, Stone Oak Jewelers in San Antonio, Texas, he takes the “boys…

Who Will Be JCK’s Rock Star?

Our new video series challenges five jewelers to conceive and execute an original design in seven weeks using genuine Swarovski Passion Topaz gems, $750, and heaps of creative genius. On June 3, Project Runway, the groundbreaking 7-year-old ­reality series that challenges up-and-coming designers to create the best clothes as they vie for a career in…

45 Retail Jewelry Best Practices

A cheat sheet of retail tips from the JCK show’s educational program JCK Las Vegas is a buying event first and foremost. But the savviest attendees know that the seminars in the show’s educational program are the equivalent of a college course in jewelry retailing, thanks to a stellar cast of presenters offering the latest…

Elvis Presley: The King of Bling

The King wanted himself a signature ring. So in 1975, Elvis Presley’s personal jeweler, Lowell Hays, delivered one: It was set with onyx and an 11.5 ct. diamond in the center, plus another 3 cts. of diamonds forming lightning bolts and Presley’s TCB (Taking Care of Business) logo. “When he saw it, he flipped out,”…

JCK Asks…Irene Neuwirth

The colored-stone queen makes us wish we all could be California girls Anyone who takes a close look at Irene Neuwirth’s kaleidoscopic colored stone creations won’t be a bit ­surprised to learn she’s a California girl. “The ocean and the colors here are my top sources of inspiration,” says the Venice, Calif.–based Neuwirth. And suddenly…

Innovative Retailer: Miner’s North Jewelers’ Wayne Guntzviller

“Crafty” is this Michigander’s middle name Give Wayne Guntzviller a code and he’ll crack it—a QR code, that is. Together with his wife and business partner, Beth, ­Guntzviller has turned his store, Miner’s North Jewelers—located in Traverse City, Mich., where the population balloons from 15,000 to nearly 2 million every summer when out-of-towners descend for…

It’s All Relative: NAGI Jewelers

Life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries for Nagi Osta, but with his son’s help, it’s pretty darn good As a young adult, Nagi Osta worked with his brother at a seafood restaurant in Florida. His father dealt in antiques, including some age-old jewels, but the jewelry business was hardly top of mind. Until, that…

Jewelers, What’s Your Cure for the Summertime Blues?

Q: What’s the most creative way to capitalize on slow summer months?—Vic Hellberg, owner, Hellberg’s Jewelers, Marshalltown, Iowa A: “Charity events…are a great way to get exposure so people don’t forget about you in a slow sales time. Even if customers aren’t coming in to buy something, a charity event can serve as a means…

JCK 5: Patrick Pugh, the Prince of Zanesville

Grab a cup of coffee and cozy up to the cases at Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers 1. What is your single best money-­saving initiative?For fiscal year 2010–2011, I decided to cut my advertising budget from 8 percent of sales down to 5.5 percent, or $60,000. We’re still using TV, radio, and print, just not as much.…

JCK 5: Tips for Selling a Distressed Business

1. Accentuate the Positive. (Eliminate the Negative!) Convey your business’ strengths to potential buyers. Examples: your presence in the community; the foundation you have spent years building; your highly skilled sales staff. 2. Price Your Business to Sell. Be honest—buyers will likely know a fair price. A third-party business valuation with preapproval from a bank…

Hiring in the Recovery

Almost every retailer in the country would agree: Business has changed profoundly since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008. Silver as a category has grown dramatically, the middle market has all but vanished, bridal customers are spending less but want more customization, and a majority of jewelers are buying precious metals and even…

August’s Birthstone: Peridot

While some of Hawaii’s volcanoes have produced large cuts of August’s birthstone, peridot, most of the lime green gemstone is mined by hand by Native Americans on Arizona’s San Carlos Reservation or in the mountainous regions of Pakistan. In ancient times, mariners and pirates believed peridot would glow in the dark if it was located…

July’s Birthstone: Ruby

Ruby’s vibrant red hue has given the gem its historical association with passion and the heart’s desire. During the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, rubies were considered the wedding stone, as they were thought to keep passion alive and promote lasting love and contentment in marriage. Roman nobles knew the value of the gem; they…

Industry & People

COMINGS AND GOINGS >> ?Gian Riccardo Marini, 64, current director of Rolex Italia, has been named director general of Rolex SA, its chief executive position. Marini replaces Bruno Meier. >> ??Victoria Tynedale has joined ­Martin Flyer as the regional manager for the West Coast and Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana territory. >>?? Zale Corp. appointed its…

Gem Manufacturing Pleads Guilty to Coral Charges

U.S. Virgin Islands jewelry maker Gem Manufacturing reached a plea agreement on May 26 on charges of importing prohibited black coral. The company will pay a $2.5 million fine, part of which goes to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of ­Natural History, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the University of the Virgin Islands…

ComCo Watching Swatch

ComCo, the Swiss ­Competition Commission, has launched an investigation into Swatch Group. The world’s largest watch­­maker initiated the investigation to come to a mutually agreed-upon solution that will allow Swatch to gradually reduce third-party deliveries of mechanical watch movements and assortments to third parties. Swatch CEO Nick Hayek recently complained to Dow Jones Newswire: “There…

New Battery Rules Could Leave Jewelers “Stuck”

Industry groups are hoping to postpone bans on mercury-added button-cell batteries, which have been used in watches. Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have all enacted legislation that would bar mercury-added batteries effective July 1, 2011. Maine, however, recently pushed the deadline to Jan. 1, 2012, and the American Watch Association and Jewelers of America are…

Suspected Michigan, Florida Jewelry Rings Busted

Within a month, law enforcement officials announced two major busts of robbery gangs suspected of targeting jewelry stores. In May, 19 Michigan residents suspected of operating a nationwide grab-and-run ring that stole $1.2 million in jewelry were arrested and charged with conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property. An FBI complaint says the metro Detroit–based…

Debit Card Fees Set to Fall

Thanks to new legislation, debit card swipe fees may soon go down. On June 8, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment that would have delayed the capping of swipe fees for two years. The vote was 54-45. To pass, 60 votes were needed. Swipe fees are charges that banks levy upon merchants to process debit…

GIA Symposium Brings Issues Home

The Gemological Institute of America celebrated its 80th anniversary in style with its Fifth International Gemological Symposium May 29–30 at the GIA campus in Carlsbad, Calif. The event, which had never been held at GIA’s home base, seemed significantly scaled down from past symposiums; still, it was well received, drawing some 700 attendees from 35-plus…

JCK 5: Top Tweets from JCK Las Vegas

1. @DanGordon: Just saw a jewelry piece [at] JCK I knew a client would love, sent MMS pic, responded “I’ll take it” #text #selling 2. @GabrielSkelly: It’s almost the same temp at the JCK in VEGAS as it is in Minneapolis right now, but boy does the new jewelry heat up the night 3. @TheJewelryCoach:…

Live From Las Vegas!

I returned from this year’s JCK show in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, and the feedback on how terrific it was has only intensified. As you likely know, this was the first year in the show’s new home at Mandalay Bay. As with any change, there was a lot of trepidation and uncertainty about…

It Happened One Night (at JCK Las Vegas)

There was a moment in Las Vegas when I knew the JCK show’s much-hyped move to Mandalay Bay had succeeded. It didn’t occur during a show appointment, nor at one of the many dinners I attended over the course of my weeklong stay. True to the trade’s hard-partying reputation, it happened on the dance floor.…

10 Things Rocking the Industry

1. Las Vegas For an industry that has ­historically resisted change, the JCK show’s move to Mandalay Bay went over rather well with attendees, 20,000 of whom descended on the new venue—a 16 percent increase over 2010. “Demand for diamonds and finished jewelry was undoubtedly the highest in years,” noted GIA senior industry analyst Russell…