May 2008

Record Gold

Barbara H. Chatham

barbara h. chatham, born jan. 14, 1919, wife of the late carroll chatham of chatham created gems, died feb. 8. she was 89. a san francisco native, barbara chatham attended the university of california at berkeley and was married to carroll f. chatham in 1940. carroll chatham was the first to grow created emeralds, and barbara worked with him as his corresponding secretary until the day he died,…

Be Careful With New Customers, JBT Warns

tough economic times mean wholesalers have to be careful who they sell to, dione kenyon, president of the jewelers board of trade, told the diamond manufacturers and importers association at a recent meeting in new york. “don’t rely on just one piece of information to make your decision,” she said. “credit ratings are important, but they can change quickly, and they don’t tell you everything yo…

AGTA/JVC’s Essential Guide for Irradiated Gems

the nuclear regulatory commission believes irradiated gemstones now on the market are safe, and it has not requested that jewelers stop selling them. that was the message delivered by joe decicco, senior health physicist with the nrc’s office of federal and state materials and environmental management programs, during a seminar at the american gem trade association’s gemfair in tucson, ariz.

Russell Simmons to Keynote JCK ~ Las Vegas

the jck show ~ las vegas 2008 will kick off with a keynote presentation on may 30 featuring hip-hop mogul and philanthropist russell simmons, with a q&a session moderated by martin rapaport. usa today recently named simmons one of the “top 25 most influential people of the past 25 years,” calling him a hip-hop pioneer for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, finance…

LVMH Watches & Jewelry Up 13%

luxury group lvmh moët hennessy louis vuitton said sales in its watches and jewelry division rose 13 percent to $1.2 billion in 2007, led by strong growth in the tag heuer watch brand. that included strengthening of tag heuer’s aquaracer, link, and carrera lines and the launch of the calibre s movement and the new grand carrera line.

Record Gold

we’re in a new, more expensive era for businesses and consumers. commodities like oil, flour, platinum, and even mushrooms are at record price levels and likely to stay there for the foreseeable future, say experts. gold is no exception. its highest-ever per-troy-ounce prices are affecting the jewelry business worldwide, and inventories of last year’s less-expensive gold jewelry are running out.

Former Friedman’s CEO Convicted of Fraud

a federal jury in new york recently convicted bradley stinn, the former chief executive officer at friedman’s and its crescent jewelers affiliate, of securities fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy. the jury also returned a forfeiture verdict against stinn for more than $1 million. stinn, 47, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment on the most serious charge.

Out With the Old, In With the New

a successful fourth quarter, in what will likely be a tough economic environment, will depend on what you do in the next three months to prepare your store’s inventory, cash flow, and marketing. it’s time to marshal your resources, do some self-examination, and get reacquainted with the 80/20 rule. take stock of your inventory and cast a critical eye on everything in the store, not only what’s …

Gem Pricing Report

despite the negative economic outlook, the gem market has several bright spots. our analysis of the emerald industry shows continued strengthening. oscar baquero, president of the association of emerald exporters, bogotá, colombia, says colombian emerald exports (as reported to the ministry of mines) rose from $94 million in 2006 to $140 million in 2007.

What Your Customers Care About: Me, Myself, and Mine

the me generation has come into its own. according to a survey of the general population of the united states, comfort of oneself and one’s family are foremost in americans’ minds. the demographically and geographically balanced survey, conducted by the harrison group in fall 2007, polled more than 1,150 adults ages 18–70.

At Tina Tang, Every Purchase Plants a Tree

while tina tang was preparing to design her next collection, she found herself thinking “less about sapphires and more about cedars.” the equities trader—turned—jewelry designer opted to forgo the flash of diamonds for a piece that benefits the american forest organization. the releaf necklace, a simple olive leaf design, comes in sterling silver or gold.

Get to Know …Donna Distefano Thomas

the area around the high line—a 1.45-mile-long historic elevated rail structure that runs through 20 blocks of west chelsea in new york—was home to many jewelers when an organization called friends of the high line began its initiative to convert the abandoned freight train track into what it calls a “linear public place.

Julius Klein Opens Namibia Factory

julius klein diamonds recently announced the opening of jkd namibia, the company’s second factory in southern africa, joining another factory in johannesburg. the $4 million-plus factory employs 91 people, 68 of whom are namibian. at full capacity, it will employ 125 people.

Manufacturing and Retail Myopia

the jewelry industry needs to come together to do something about competing more effectively with other luxury products. industry idea man ed coyne developed a concept last year that would focus some of the industry’s promotional efforts on creating a national jewelry week in late november, just prior to the biggest jewelry sales period of the year.

New Alternative Metal Patented

star ring inc., chatsworth, calif., has developed a new alternative metal that it believes will appeal to consumers who have become more price conscious. called platina 4, it consists of, in descending order, silver, palladium, gold, and platinum, plus a proprietary alloy. the name is trademarked, and the process and alloy are patented.

Sarah Graham Metalsmithing’s Eco Effort

from the sarah graham metalsmithing blog: “our new year’s resolution … no, we are not joining a gym, but we are trying to slim down—on mailings, that is! during our recent annual meeting, we set a goal to reduce our paper mailings by 20 percent by the end of 2008.” the company wants customers to help by asking to be removed from its print mailing list and providing an e-mail address ins…

10 Best Practices for Selecting Retail Management Software

selecting your next retail management software system doesn’t require in-depth technological knowledge. you simply need to roll up your sleeves and run a disciplined selection process, skills you probably have, assuming you’re succeeding in the challenging retail industry. here are 10 best practices for selecting your next system.

DMIA Calls for GIA Investigation

the diamond manufacturers and importers association recently asked federal prosecutors to keep investigating the two-year-old gemological institute of america bribery scandal, the group announced at a meeting monday. “for more than two years, no further detailed information regarding this matter has emerged from the gia or from your office,” said a letter sent by president ronald friedman to th…

LUXURY & PREMIERE Offer Amenities at the Palazzo

luxury & premiere will host more than 275 high-end jewelry retailers at the new palazzo resort hotel casino in las vegas this month. the palazzo las vegas, an all-suites resort, is home to more than a dozen restaurants from award-winning chefs and more than 60 luxury boutiques. the three-day event kicks off with a poolside welcome reception, sponsored by premiere.

A Busy Month

i’ve just completed one of the most hectic, demanding, and thrilling times of the year. it’s been informative and a bit daunting, but ultimately optimistic. first up was my fourth trip to the rotaforte show in istanbul. our rep in turkey, mirek kraczkowski, is an honorary turk, and walking the show with him is always a nonstop reunion of dear friends.

Did Canadian Company Find Purple Micro-Stones?

mining company metalex ventures ltd. recently claimed it had unearthed purple micro-diamonds from the property it’s prospecting in quebec. the company said it has uncovered 649 diamonds, including nine rare purple stones, from the property. the announcement brought surprise and some skepticism in the colored-diamond community.

New Fortunoff CEO: ‘We’ll Build on Our Strengths’

charlie chinni, the new chairman and chief executive officer of fortunoff, has a big job ahead. he must not only revive the fabled jewelry and home-furnishings retailer, currently in chapter 11, but also integrate fortunoff boutiques into lord & taylor, owned by fortunoff’s new parent, nrdc. chinni succeeds arnold orlick, who joined the company in 2006.

Reference Checking: How to Avoid Liability

there are lots of prohibitions in the law about what an employer can ask during an employment interview, but no prohibitions about what an employer can ask during a reference check. so when you’re the reference being checked, be careful what you say about a former employee whom you would not recommend hiring.

Tough Love

i love this business. there is something magical and deeply gratifying in seeing innovative and talented artists create objects with tactile and visual beauty from metal and gems. while i could bemoan the fact that i sense this magic all too infrequently, i should not be surprised. as in all the arts, true talents emerge rarely.

Software for Hard Numbers

small and large jewelry operations can benefit greatly by having inventory management systems in place. in fact, many would argue that these automated systems are necessary to compete in today’s marketplace. yet many jewelers shun them. susan eisen, of susan eisen fine jewelry and watches, el paso, texas, is a strong advocate of technology in general and inventory management systems in particul…

Reed Business Information, JCK Owner, to Be Sold

anglo-dutch publishing giant reed elsevier announced its plan to sell its reed business information publishing unit, which includes the jck publishing group. titles under the jck brand include: jewelers’ circular keystone (jck), jckstyle, jck luxury,, jck india, the annual jck jewelers’ directory, and the jck look book.

In-Store Marketing and Promotion

in-store promotions combined with focused marketing let you target a specific audience and are more cost effective than traditional advertising. generating excitement and creating buzz about your store in general and gold specifically will go a long way to improving sales. a wonderful source for information and insight is guerrilla marketing by jay conrad levinson, who defines guerilla marketin…

JSA Warns About Fraudulent Telephone Orders

jewelers’ security alliance says it has identified a pattern of telephone orders to jewelry suppliers in which a suspect posing as a new customer uses counterfeit bank money orders to prepay for jewelry merchandise in the $1,500 range. jsa’s “crime alert” e-newsletter listed the following recent cases: there was an additional attempt of this nature on a supplier in the dallas area, but that sup…


change—and the urgent need for it in this industry—has been a central theme of many an editorial (especially on this page), and it’s been the topic of many private conversations and a number of recent industry conferences. in her keynote address at the plumb club forum in march, former hewlett-packard chief executive officer carly fiorina focused on identifying needed change and cop…

Helzberg Cuts 21 Jobs

helzberg diamonds has cut 21 positions at its north kansas city headquarters, a 9 percent reduction, the kansas city star reports. the company eliminated seven unfilled positions and is offering severance packages and outplacement assistance to 14 employees, who include managerial and salaried professionals and hourly associates.

Rapaport Defends Changes to List

international diamond manufacturers association president jeffrey fischer criticized some recent changes in the rapaport diamond report at the plumb club forum in new york. along with adding 10 ct. stones to his famed price list, list publisher martin rapaport changed his 40-point price list. the 30 to 37 point, 38 to 45 point, and 46 to 49 point categories are now listed as 30 to 39 points and…

Swiss Watch Exports Set 18-Year Record

swiss watch exports in 2007 had “a record year, and growth unrivaled for 18 years,” says the federation of the swiss watch industry fh. for 2007 as a whole, watch exports tallied about $14.6 billion, a 16.2 percent gain. watches in two categories, 18k gold and steel, made the biggest gains in export value, up 24.

Fake Watches Seized in Mexico City Raid

some 90,000 counterfeits of 10 swiss watch brands were seized in late january in mexico city, in a raid by the federation of swiss watchmakers fh and mexico’s federal authorities. fh called it the most important seizure of fake watches ever carried out in latin america. the project was initiated by fh’s latin america representative, based in asunción, paraguay, and its latin american antic…

Chain to Liquidate

friedman’s jewelers, an 80-year-old company that once was the third-largest jewelry chain in america, is liquidating the majority of its stores. the company is also selling 78 of its stores to wfc acquisition corp., an affiliate of whitehall jewelers. friedman’s filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in january, after three vendors tried to force it into chapter 7, which governs liquidation.

U.S. Watch Industry Recruits Veterans

that’s the premise of the new war veterans watchmaker initiative of the american watch guild, a group of a fine-watch retailers and suppliers. the aim is to persuade veterans of america’s wars to consider watchmaking as a career, and for the u.s. watch and jewelry trades to provide apprenticeships, scholarships, and jobs for them.

Movado Group Launches Unified Brand Strategy

the movado group will reduce u.s. wholesale distribution of movado, its largest watch brand, by 35 percent by jan. 31, 2009, going from 4,000 stores down to 2,600, it announced in february. the movado group, based in paramus, n.j., designs, makes, and distributes movado watches worldwide as well as ebel, concord, esq, coach, tommy hilfiger, hugo boss, juicy couture, and lacoste watches.

Christie’s Rides the Wave

sitting behind his desk at christie’s rockefeller center, rahul kadakia looks too young to be running the most successful department of the world’s most successful jewelry auctions. charming and boyishly handsome, he is in his early 30s but looks 25. in the three years he has served as head of jewelry for christie’s americas, however, he has proven himself repeatedly.

Taking It to the Maks

if cathy calhoun ever invites you for a mystery date, be prepared for anything. the jeweler has been known to whisk customers off to arkansas to mine diamonds or quickly bake enough chocolate-chip cookies to feed the cast and crew of a movie. so when she called seven of her best female customers for a thank-you party, they knew it would be something special.

Step It Up or You May Have to Step Aside!

last june, right after the jck show ~ las vegas, i had the pleasure of spending three weeks in a jewelry store. running the sales floor took me back to my time as a sales manager working every day on a retail sales floor. not much has changed. customers still say, “i’m just looking,” “i’ll be back,” and “this is the first place i’ve shopped.

ABN AMRO’s Jewelry Business Goes to Fortis

abn amro’s diamond and jewelry division, responsible for an estimated quarter of the jewelry industry’s financing, will be headed to belgium-based fortis bank, a member of the consortium that bought abn amro. the announcement was made by victor van der kwast, the division’s head, at the israeli rough conference in tel aviv.

An Inconvenient Tooth

know me, and you know that i adore animals. i have two cats and one dog, all of which are rescues, though my in-laws’ golden retriever, bonnie, is sort of my second dog. i suppose i also have a third dog, murphy, a labrador retriever who belongs to our next-door neighbors, jeannie and frank. i walk murphy every weekend when i exercise my own labrador/german-shepherd mix, beast.


michael g. cosby, a longtime veteran of the jewelry industry, died march 25, 2008. cosby began his career in the jewelry business as a district manager for lenox china and crystal in the carolinas and later moved to the new orleans market. after lenox acquired artcarved in 1972, he transferred to the jewelry division and covered louisiana, mississippi, arkansas, and parts of texas.

Tapping Into the Power of Positive Thinking

times might be tough, but don’t tell that to laurie harris, fine-jewelry buyer for tapper’s diamonds and fine jewelry. nonsense, she’ll tell you with a firm shake of her head. bad times are no excuse for bad business. tapper’s, based in west bloomfield, mich., is not only flourishing but also expanding.

Village Jewelers

while most jewelers look to increase business through expansion, dean thomas has found that bigger isn’t always better. thomas, owner of village jewelers in du quoin, ill., recently sold his building and moved to a smaller stand-alone location down the block to focus solely on jewelry. village jewelers specializes in custom jewelry, diamond fashion rings, and colored stone jewelry.

DTC Opens Up Botswana Sorting Facility

the diamond trading company botswana officially opened its sorting facility in the country’s capital, gaborone. dtcb will sort and value all rough diamonds produced by debswana—about 34 million carats annually—not just the goods that are to be supplied locally. in addition, most of dtc international’s goods, including diamonds produced in other countries, will be sorted there.

Andesine Aggravation

the recent saga of the gemstone andesine illustrates the complexities of gemstone enhancement and disclosure. andesine is a reddish-orange feldspar that’s been in the market five years. it’s sometimes called sunstone because its chemical composition is similar to that gemstone’s. stuart robertson, research director for gemworld international, glenview, ill.

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