June 2008

Rough Times Ahead

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More Doom and Gloom—How Lucky Are We?

watching cnn recently i heard the latest report on retail sales for march 2008. they were off significantly. the gap reported a loss of 18 percent, target was off 9 percent, and linens · n · things filed for chapter 11 in early may. cnn said the latter would probably close stores and eliminate up to 17,000 jobs.

JSA: Jewelry Crime Fell in 2007

overall crime in the jewelry industry fell by a substantial margin in 2007, according to statistics compiled by the jewelers’ security alliance. “it was another year of things heading in the right direction,” says jsa chairman john kennedy. “you always get pockets of things that are not good, but overall there has been a big decline in crime against the industry.

Esmerian Files Chapter 11, Canceling Christie’s Sale

gem dealer ralph esmerian filed a bankruptcy petition on behalf of fred leighton, which he controls, stopping a scheduled christie’s auction of his gems. just hours before the scheduled auction at christie’s new york, esmerian’s fred leighton holding inc. and seven affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy protection.

Casey Stephenson Dies

casey stephenson, owner of warner company jewelers in fresno, calif., succumbed to cancer after a yearlong battle. he was 52. stephenson started working in the jewelry business at age 14 and quickly worked his way into a sales position. by the time he was 22, stephenson owned his own casey’s jewelers stores in lemoore and hanford, calif.

An Interview With Russell Simmons

russell simmons, 50, who has been described by usa today as one of the “25 most influential people of the past 25 years,” is best known as the founder of def jam records, a pioneering rap label whose roster included public enemy, the beastie boys, and run dmc (featuring simmons’s brother run).

Gem Pricing Report

it seems that retail jewelers’ main competition is the corner gas station. today finds another record oil price, $123 a barrel. gas has hit $4+ per gallon in many parts of the country. consumer confidence has declined sharply during the past two months as consumers struggle to cover dramatically increasing costs of groceries and other essentials, driven up in part by higher energy costs.

De Beers Says Settlement Approved

de beers said it “welcomes” recent comments by the judge handling its class-action case that the antitrust settlement will be approved. while the judge has not issued a final ruling, comments by the presiding judge indicated approval of the settlement, said spokeswoman lynette gould. the settlement’s approval could mean that the company’s long-running dispute with the am…

‘Define Your Turf’ An Interview With David Peters

“may you live in interesting times,”says an old chinese curse.right now, many independent jewelers—buffeted by contrary economic winds—would say the times are a little too interesting. “jewelers are getting hit from every direction,” says jeweler john anthony, president of the pennsylvania/delaware valley chapter of the gemological institute of america’s alum…

Clooney Urges Omega to Speak About Darfur

oscar-winning actor george clooney, brand ambassador for omega watches, is urging the company to speak out against china’s foreign policy in sudan, say media reports. omega is one of 12 worldwide olympic partners for this summer’s games in beijing. it has been the olympics’ official timekeeper since 1932.

Swiss Fairs Defy Doomsayers

the success of this year’s swiss trade shows indicates that the global luxury market remains healthy, and that watchmakers, especially, are responding with innovative horology and original designs. still, the luxury market was the focus of much discussion at the shows (see sidebar), and the weakened u.

The jewelry industry finally has a reality TV star to call its own: Peih-Gee Law

peih-gee law, 29, is a principal of lo rador, a los angeles company involved in manufacturing, wholesaling, designing, importing, and selling upscale colored-stone jewelry. it was founded by her grandfather in hong kong, and established in the united states by her parents in 1985. law recently was a competitor on the popular network reality show survivor: china, which wrapped its television run…

Sunstone Blessing

even though walter harrison had surgery for gastrointestinal cancer in december, he still says, “the lord’s blessed me so much.” his latest blessing appeared in a sunstone mine. harrison is a retired fire captain from redlands, calif. an expert with search-and-rescue dogs, he was among those called to the oklahoma city bombing site and the northridge, calif.

Another Colorful Tucson

large, magnificent mozambique cuprian tourmalines were all over the tucson, ariz., gem shows again this year, in 10, 15, and 20 ct. cushions and triangular brilliants, with some as large as 50 or 60 cts. strong, bright greens and blues, as well as dark magentas, violets, purples, and browns, were spectacular.

Whitehall Buys 78 Friedman’s Stores

whitehall jewelers recently acquired the assets and leases of 78 stores from friedman’s and its subsidiary crescent jewelers for approximately $14.3 million. in april, friedman’s announced it would close its remaining stores. whitehall will operate the stores under the names whitehall or lundstrom. the deal “considerably increases the number of jewelry stores that we will operate and wil…

Levinson Jewelers Celebrates 25th, Raises $100,000 for Marino Foundation

levinson jewelers kicked off its 25th year in business with an anniversary event on feb. 22, 2008, at its plantation, fla., store. more than 150 guests joined levinson jewelers co-owners mark and robin levinson for the celebration, including master watchmaker franck muller; dan and claire marino; dancing with the stars celebrity jason taylor; sam madison, cornerback for the super bowl champion …

Hardcore Watch Co. Store Opening in Las Vegas

california-based watch designer steve soffa has signed a deal with the rio hotel and casino in las vegas to launch a hardcore watch co. store. the hcw store is set to open inside the rio hotel june 15. for more information, visit www.hardcorewatches.com.

The Little Green Bracelet That Could

the truth of this ancient chinese proverb is undeniable. one needs only to compare the achievements of those societies whose citizens have access to free public education with those who don’t to see the proof borne out. this idea also forms the basis of the diamond empowerment fund. the nonprofit def, founded last year by hip-hop mogul russell simmons, emphasizes the need for giving a hand up, …

How to Gain Market Share in a Soft Economy

by now, everyone is well aware of the soft retail climate, where even affluent consumers are tightening their belts. here are a few specific ideas to seize the opportunity to increase business in a soft market. these suggestions can help you be better prepared to increase retail sales in a weak market, but they’re also good practices to follow in a strong market.

L.I.D. New York Auctions Assets

the new york office of l.i.d., currently operating under chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, plans to sell most of its assets in a “363 sale” and has “no plans to remain open,” according to the company’s restructuring officer. “at this point there is no plan for the business going forward,” said chris ellis of consensus advisors, the company’s chief restructuri…

How to Handle a Sniper

a sniper is a staff person who attacks from the weeds. they criticize the manager, but never face-to-face. instead, they make rude and inappropriate remarks under their breath. sometimes they whisper to a neighbor that the manager or other target is a jerk, or worse. sometimes it’s criticism veiled in bad humor such as, “where did you get that outfit?” and sometimes it’s a cruel rem…

Hanging In, Helping Out

last june this page was titled “the wolf at the door,” referring to the numerous challenges facing the jewelry industry. it concluded by saying that whatever 2008’s yearly update would bring, it wouldn’t be boring. how true! though i daresay many in the industry would welcome a little boredom as a respite from so much tumult.

Losing Sleep Finding a Web Strategy

not all of the discussions at the plumb club forum focused strictly on information and communications technology. some seminars and roundtables discussed diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals; corporate and social responsibility; and fashion. others focused on issues confronting the industry, and one dealt with the consequences of what is commonly called “web 2.

On the Road Again

here we are in midsummer, the time of year when suppliers are pressing to obtain critical year-end orders. field salespeople are on the road again. but we hear the same cautions we’ve been hearing for years. there are a declining number of traveling salespeople—fewer people want to deal with the travails of the road.

News and Notes

Timex Shuffles U.S. Management The Timex Group B.V. in March announced two major top management appointments in its U.S.-based operations. Adam Gurian was named president of the Timex Business Unit, and Scott Wolfe was appointed president of the Callanen International Business Unit. Gurian had been president of the Callanen International Business Unit since December 1995,…

Rethinking Your Store Hours

today’s jewelry customer can shop seven days a week at the mall and 24 hours a day on the internet. many independent jewelers are fighting back by extending their hours of operation. “i think it’s a great idea for independent jewelers to consider extending their store hours to be more convenient and competitive,” says jeff taraschi, president of interactive group ltd.

‘Cease and Desist!’

the nobel watch company—which built its 15-year business and reputation on the slogan “i didn’t get the nobel prize … but i got the nobel watch”—has been warned by the nobel prize’s parent foundation to stop using it. the new york city watch company says it received a letter of warning in march from the nobel foundation, based in stockholm, sweden.

Hasenfeld Apart From the Herd

alexander hasenfeld isn’t big on publicity. when discussing setting up an interview, he made it clear he wasn’t crazy about being profiled in a magazine. but he does have, as he calls it, “an interesting story,” which involves coming to this country as a concentration camp survivor and turning his company into an icon of the american jewelry industry thanks to hard work,…


the latest financial statistics from jewelers board of trade offer some encouragement in a tough market. for the first quarter of 2008, the total number of u.s. bankruptcies—combined totals among retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers—declined by 15 percent compared with the first quarter of 2007.

A Case for the Trades

i rarely write about reasons for advertising in jck or in trade magazines in general. but this month i’m making an exception because of some powerful information we’ve just received from a landmark jewelry consumer study undertaken with the harrison group. the study sought to determine whom consumers are buying jewelry for, the reasoning behind a purchase, awareness of jewelry and watch brands,…

Price Point Monitor

beginning this month, jck tracks some popular nonjewelry product categories fighting for your share of wallet. our list is not exhaustive, but meant simply to highlight a few products we’ve seen advertised or online that might be catching your customers’ interest. in our inaugural edition of the price point monitor, we tackle both ends of the traditional price point for female jewelry impulse p…

Konstantina Mahlia

konstantina mahlia is proud of her greek heritage, so proud, in fact, that it’s the theme of her growing line of jewelry. agate, tourmaline, and pearls are set into hammered 18k gold—and some silver—creations featuring granulation and regal motifs like laurel leaves and lions. the resulting styles often appeal to discriminating consumers in the market for one-offs.

Use Visual Aids to Stimulate Gold Jewelry Sales

when you walk into a discount warehouse club such as sam’s or costco, the first thing you notice is the lack of warmth. the second thing you notice is merchandise stacked floor to ceiling. few, if any, visual aids add to the atmosphere. the objective is to move lots of merchandise and get the customer in and out as quickly as possible.

From the Blogs

shanghai blogging: the earthquake and the world diamond congress so, to answer everyone’s questions about the earthquake: yes, i’m ok; no, i didn’t feel anything, or see any buildings move (though some diamond congress delegates saw people file out of buildings that apparently were moving). things are astonishingly normal in shanghai considering the horrific tragedy that just happened in china.

Foredom’s New High-Torque, High-Speed Micromotor

foredom electric co. is marketing a state-of-the-art brushless micromotor unit that delivers smooth, controllable variable speed (1,000 to 50,000 rpm) with high torque. the small benchtop control features an on/off switch, digital speed display and control knob, indicator lights, forward/reverse selector, hand/foot-pedal selector, and an automatic-cruise switch.

Name Blame

claiming that “the good name of paraíba itself has been hijacked,” david sherman, chief executive officer of paraiba.com, has filed a $120 million lawsuit against the american gem trade association; the gemological institute of america; brazil imports inc.; and several individuals, including agta present and past board members.

A Changing World

profound changes in mass media and information technology are creating a worldwide social revolution that’s infiltrating every part of daily life, including how people buy and sell things. if those attending the plumb club forum@fit didn’t already know it, they certainly did by the time they left the two-day conference.

LUXURY by JCK Announces Launch of LUXURY Bermuda 2009

targeting the jewelry industry’s top u.s. and european retailers and brands, the first-ever luxury bermuda trade show is slated to take place march 15–18, 2009, at the fairmont southampton resort in bermuda. with space for 60 exhibitors and 120 hosted stores, luxury bermuda will invite retailers based on criteria set forth by the luxury advisory board.

Information and Inspiration

more than 200 women in the jewelry industry attended the fifth annual women in the know conference, sponsored by the women’s jewelry association and the jck industry fund. the full-day conference, held march 7 at the fashion institute of technology in new york, featured both motivational speakers and educational seminars focusing on communication, leadership, and the value of listening.

Rough Times Ahead

at the start of the third israel rough conference, speakers noted the industry could not have had such a conference 10 years ago. but, as the event’s moderator later pointed out, israel did have a rough conference 10 years ago. yet it seems as if it was about an altogether different industry. at that time, de beers was the unquestioned big cheese, and attendees debated whether small producers s…

Show Time!

in the opening sequence of the film all that jazz, roy scheider slides dramatically toward the camera and utters the key theme for the jewelry industry heading into the end of 2008 and early 2009: “it’s show time, folks!” it is show time, literally and metaphorically. as you read this you’re probably on your way to las vegas or already there.

Times Like These

when the economy turns south, the jewelry industry overreacts. it begins at retail and rolls back into manufacturing and distribution. retail jewelers have responded to the recent downturn by not buying. the continuous grind of the 24-hour-a-day news cycle, political campaigns focused solely on the negative, the downturn in housing combined with the mortgage problem, and rapidly rising prices o…