June 2009

Jane Seymour Opens Her Heart

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Independent Jewelers Fight for Their LIFO

president barack obama’s proposed budget includes a section repealing the last in, first out (lifo) accounting method that gives many jewelers a tax break, and some worry the repeal will hurt them significantly. (see box for explanation.) peggy jo donahue, director of public affairs for jewelers of america, says lifo has long been used by retail jewelers, particularly those with two or more sto…

One More Tip for Struggling Businesses

over the past three months i’ve written about five tips for struggling businesses. during my own career, i’ve had my share of dealing with stressed businesses—from the original krementz, to william schneider, to jck, and finally the dramatic decline in the diamond business beginning last year. each firm had its own unique set of problems, but they all come back to management: the people.

Marks Jewelers ‘Mall’ Billboard on Pa. Turnpike

drivers heading west on the pennsylvania turnpike can see an amusing billboard from marks jewelers of montgomeryville, pa. in between the willow grove (no. 27) and fort washington (no. 26) exits is where this particular billboard lives. its simple message lets you know that the cool jewelry in the ad can’t be found at a chain store: “the mall doesn’t have it.

‘Don’t Go Forward While Looking Backward’

i recently read a blog and some comments about how the vendors need to be better partners for jewelers during these tough times. things like: be more willing to take back product to pay for outstanding invoices; make more money available to the jeweler for local advertising; and don’t be so rigid on adhering to stock balancing policies.

People

the american gem society awarded charles and ellen lacy, owners of lacy & co., its 2009 robert m. shipley award, the society’s highest honor, for their lifetime of service to ags. the lacys not only received the surprise of the award but also were unexpectedly greeted by their two children and five grandchildren, ages four through nine, who flew in for the event.

Let’s Turn the Page

several recent conversations lead me to believe that we are beginning to adapt to economic realities—and even seeing some measure of recovery. on a macro level, the entire pipeline, from mining to retailing, is undergoing harsh adjustments, and none of it is pleasant. on the micro level of individual companies, the adjustments are practical and market driven.

Going to the Retailer, and We’re Gonna Get Married

a trip to the jeweler is a necessary part of the wedding ritual. but now some jewelers are taking it a step further by offering not only wedding jewelry but also a wedding service. at albert’s jewelers in schererville, ind., it started 12 years ago, when owner joshua halpern’s parents were celebrating their 30th anniversary and wanted to redo their vows.

Get Higher Returns From Motivated Employees

sales per square foot is a key differentiator between high-profit and low-profit stores, according to the 2007 jewelers of america cost of doing business survey. jewelers of america’s director of education david peters says improving sales starts with the right selling strategies. for more tips from jewelers of america, sign up to receive the “tips to thrive” e-newsletter at www.

Stores

omega ambassador and olympic swimmer michael phelps, along with omega ceo stephen urquhart, officially opened the first-ever omega flagship boutique in new york city on april 22. west fred segal, a california retailer of high-end fashion and jewelry, will be the focus of a new reality series on the cable network bravo, according to hollywood reporter.

Gem Pricing Report

the negative view of the economy eased in april as the consumer confidence index jumped to its highest level of 2009. an increasing number of analysts feel that the market has found the bottom and will start moving up. analysts’ impression of the housing market also improved slightly in april. the jewelry industry, however, remains slow across the distribution chain.

Time Off An Essential Part of Doing Business

workplace studies have shown that vacations are essential to keeping people happy and productive at work. vacations promote creativity by helping us reconnect with ourselves. they also help stave off burnout, reduce stress, keep family relationships strong (essential for maintaining motivation and a positive attitude at work), and improve quality of life.

The Rule of Holes

the rule is: when you find yourself in one, stop digging! for most jewelry retailers, business is being buffeted by strong macroeconomic headwinds. fewer customers are buying less-expensive merchandise. better customers are buying less often. here are five ways to cope:

Marketing Conspicuous Consumption in 2009

toward the end of his presidency george h.w. bush suggested that the united states wouldn’t be in a recession if only people would stop behaving as if they were in a recession. but americans were worried about the economy and reluctant to loosen their purse strings and start spending again. here we are again.

Beasley Out, Raff in at Helzberg

beryl raff is replacing marvin beasley as chairman and chief executive officer of 270-store helzberg diamonds, according to a news release by the chain’s owner, berkshire hathaway. raff was executive vice president and general merchandise manager of fine jewelry for j.c. penney co. inc. penney did not return a phone call asking who would replace her.

The Industry

diamond mining resumes in botswana in a sign the diamond markets are beginning to improve, mining has resumed in botswana after an unprecedented 50-day halt in production, de beers said. during the pause, debswana employees remained on full pay, and the company carried out maintenance work on its major assets to ensure the mines run at an optimal level when demand resumes.

To Be Continued …

“those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”—george santayana being the editor-in-chief of jck—and a senior and staff editor before that—has given me more than 23 years of observing all sectors of the industry. if there are two lessons i could wish for the industry to take to heart from these most trying times, it would be the two that i’ve carped about for…

Richline Gets Andin, Colibri Trademarks

richline, the jewelry manufacturer that is part of warren buffett’s berkshire hathaway, has two new additions to its stable. the first is andin, a mass market jewelry manufacturer based in new york. ofer azrielant, andin’s owner, will become executive vice president of richline’s gem group. the company said in a statement that andin “joined the richline family.

Jeweler Receives Slam-Dunk Publicity

when 24-year old brendan bradt won $25,000 by sinking a half-court jump shot at the culmination of an annual contest, the crowd at times union center in albany, n.y., went nuts. but no one may have been happier than the contest’s sponsor, northeastern fine jewelry, a four-store jeweler based in schenectady, n.

The Lily & Co. Lifestyle

sanibel island in florida is home to a fine jewelry store that’s as much a destination as the area’s beautiful beaches. called lily & co. jewelry gallery, the four-year-old store is the brainchild of karen bell, a sanibel realtor, and dan schuyler, a former employee of smyth jewelers, timonium, md.

R.F. Moeller Jeweler Discovers YouTube

as jewelers increasingly turn to inexpensive internet marketing, social networking web sites like my space, facebook, and twitter are becoming part of the promotional mix. youtube, an internet video site that allows people to watch video clips that have been uploaded by others, is also proving valuable.

Cut Back Without Crippling Your Organization

around the proverbial water cooler, i have heard business owners discussing the reduction of expenses and, of course, we always end up on the topic of reduction of staff. one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is to think about letting go the highest paid, most experienced employees for a less experienced, yet less expensive, replacement.

State of the Jewelry Industry 2009

we hear much from various pundits and authorities about the state of our industry in these economically difficult times. but how do the people on the front lines of business—you and your colleagues—see things? this year, jck’s annual “state of the industry” report is all about your view from the retail trenches and what you and your peers are doing to weather the storm.

How To Be a Military-Friendly Company

look out your office window and you may notice cars in the parking lot sporting a “support the troops” yellow ribbon magnet. human resources departments ask about military service on job applications. you may even recall the donations canister in the break room for a few months before christmas. is that what it means to be a military-friendly company? in general terms, military-friendly compani…

The Story Behind Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts Jewelry

the way mark light, president and ceo of sterling jewelers, tells it, it was a stroke of luck his company ever met the acquaintance of jane seymour. as a sponsor of the american music awards, sterling was invited to an abc dinner. jane seymour, then white hot after her classy turn on abc’s dancing with the stars, was seated with the sterling team.

Brazil’s Feninjer Show Celebrates Bright and Cheerful Jewelry

the annual feninjer jewelry show in são paulo, brazil, is always a treat, and the event was especially welcome this year in light of the economy; a plethora of cheerful, oversize, and price-point-friendly colored stone designs is just what jewelers need to keep consumers coming back to stores. nature themes and sinuous yellow gold styles reflect the vibrant, diverse, and warm fabric of the…

Jane Seymour Opens Her Heart

“my inspiration for this collection was a woman named mieke frankenberg,” says seymour. she always used to say, ‘if you think life is insurmountable and times are tough, go help someone else. it takes you out of yourself and ultimately helps you.’ if your heart is broken and you close it off, you can’t let the negativity out, and you can’t let new love in.

Amber Jewelry’s Time to Shine

great jewelry material doesn’t grow on trees. or does it? amber, the resin of prehistoric pine trees, has been prized, traded, and crafted into jewelry and works of art in the baltic region since antiquity. today, amber jewelry is big business in the baltic region, particularly in northern poland where amber is celebrated each year at the amberif international fair of amber, jewellery and gemst…

Tightwad’s Tour of Tucson 2009

my favorite trade show of the year, the american gem trade association’s gemfair, held in february, in tucson, ariz.—along with 42 other gem shows!—continues to serve as a source of inspiration and delight for rock hounds and jewelry designers. i cruised from show to show in my rental car and sneakers, equipped with water, camera, paper and pen, and a wee bit of money (a girl has go…

Gold Buyers Face New Law

a proposed law in florida, which at press time has passed the state’s legislature, would make mail-in gold buyers face many of the same rules that pawn shops and jewelers do. the bill, introduced by state sen. dan gelber (d-miami beach), would require internet gold-buying companies to obtain driver’s license numbers from sellers, hold items for 10 days before melting them down, photograph the j…

JCK’s Next Chapter

we here at the jck publishing group are not immune from this crushing recession. we’ve recently had to reduce the size of our staff and bid farewell to some dear friends at the magazine. hedda schupak will move from the role of editor-in-chief to editor-at-large. hedda will continue to write her monthly letter (now as a column in our opinion section) and will contribute to the magazine and web …

Will Zell Brothers Survive?

zell brothers, a 97-year-old institution in the portland, ore., jewelry market, may close, although a $5 million lawsuit has been launched to prevent that from happening. zell brothers was purchased in 1973 by the bailey banks and biddle chain, which was then owned by zale. in 2005, zale sold the bailey chain to finlay enterprises.

Sales and Customer Service Standards

what do fed-ex, the ritz-carlton, mcdonald’s, disney, hertz, ibm, and nordstrom have in common? they all have non-negotiable sales and customer service standards. could you imagine the fed-ex guy showing up in brown shorts and a brown shirt? what do you think would happen if the mcdonald’s employee refused to say, “would you like fries with that?” jewelry stores should have non-negotiable sales…

Live Coverage: Baselworld New Jewelry

over the past couple of days, i’ve seen some jewelry that is stunning enough to spark the interest of even the hardest-hit portfolio owners. jewelry designers have responded to the times with some creative looks like polished selections of rough stone cuts, highly technical settings masked by beautiful stone mosaics, flexible gold jewelry to accommodate an extra pound or two on frames, and more.

BaselWorld Beauties

new jewelry lines were worth the trip to baselworld the watch & jewellery fair this year, despite reduced attendance, particularly among american retailers. designers showed a number of affordable options—karat gold and diamond charms on leather cords, uncommon but pretty stones like jasper set in gold—as well as updated diamond classics (flexible settings to accommodate weight …

Ultra Enters Chapter 11

jewelry retail chain ultra stores filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in april in a “prepackaged” bankruptcy with its vendors and banks that it hopes to emerge from soon. “we really do expect to go in and out of this in record speed because of the agreement the parties have reached,” said kris land, chief marketing officer of the chicago-based company.

Yes You Can Boost Business on …

even if you’re not on facebook, chances are you know someone who is. you may even know someone who, in spite of themselves, got sucked in and is now an addict. the site has become an internet phenomenon, growing at an astronomical rate, with over 5 million people joining each week. and while it was originally meant for college students, its 175 million active users now include grandmothers, cel…

BaselWorld 2009 Surpasses Expectations

baselworld 2009 generated better business than expected, said exhibitors and show officials, despite the global economic crisis and a 13 percent drop in attendance. that’s “reassuring … after [2009’s] very difficult beginning,” said the swiss exhibitors committee post-show report. “signs are that the industry is returning to normality, rather than experiencing a really serious turndown.