May 2009

Style 2009

The New Normal

one of the toughest parts of the current economic situation has been simply not knowing when it’s going to hit bottom—or even where the bottom is. once it hits bottom, at least you’ll know what you’re dealing with and you can begin to adapt to the “new normal.” until then, all you can do is speculate about what might be the new normal and try to prepare for it.

Morellato & Sector Looks to U.S. Market

say “jewelry industry conglomerate” and names like lvmh, swatch group, or richemont spring to mind. but a lesser-known group is growing rapidly in both the watch and jewelry markets. italy’s morellato & sector may be the biggest watch and jewelry group you’ve never heard of—until now.

Second-Hand Jewelry Buyers Beware!

jewelers who buy secondhand merchandise, including gold jewelry, need to follow existing laws, jewelers vigilance committee said recently, citing a case in california. according to the register-pajaronian newspaper, two jewelers in watsonville, calif., are facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly purchasing secondhand jewelry without a proper license.

WGC Unites Celebrities, Designers, Charities, and Gold

this month, world gold council will auction off a special collection of gold jewelry—designed by a special group of people—to benefit 10 charities. the leaves of change collection comprises a dozen necklaces, each with a unique leaf motif created by a hollywood celebrity or couple. christina applegate, whoopi goldberg, marcia gay harden, samantha harris, eric mccormack, debra messi…

Crystal Balm

despite the faltering economy and a decline in attendance, buyers at this show bought. many exhibitors not only survived but also surpassed their expectations. there were groans of pain amid the sighs of relief, however, with some exhibitors reporting 20, 30, and even 40 percent drops in sales from last year.

Africa Comes to the Oscars

the week before the academy awards, the diamond information center usually hosts a lavish suite celebrating diamond jewelry. but this year, it worried that wouldn’t feel right. given the worldwide economic downturn, dic thought a lot of flash would be out of step with the prevailing mood. so the organization decided on an approach that would target the conscience as much as the desire for glitz.

No New Luxury Taxes!

proposals in illinois and new york that would have added a 5 percent tax to purchases of fine jewelry and timepieces over $20,000 have been killed. the proposals spurred furious lobbying and letter-writing campaigns from jewelers of america, chicago jewelers association, and american watch association.

Glimmers of Hope

as i write, there are murmurs around the country that perhaps we’ve seen the bottom of this economic decline and we’re beginning to inch our way back up. regardless, it looks like there will be rough times ahead in the job market, so we and our industry aren’t out of the woods yet. if we do begin an economic renewal, it will certainly be a very exciting time.

From the Blogs

desk dig, st. patrick’s day edition one jeweler’s trash is also another’s treasure, which is the concept behind mike hauben, son of howard hauben (of h2 events/centurion show fame) is as creative and entrepreneurial as his dad, with a healthy dose of high-tech savvy thrown in for good measure.

Jewelry Crime Up, Grab and Runs Blamed

a huge increase in grab and run incidents—in which customers run off with jewelry shown to them—drove up jewelry crime 17 percent in 2008, reversing the recent downward trend, jewelers’ security alliance reported. “crime was definitely up in 2008,” says jsa president john kennedy.

Only Connect!

a company in israel called erayo has an e-commerce web site ( that offers the work of pre-approved jewelry designers from around the world to independent retail jewelers. it’s backed by a centralized distribution network. “the intention is to connect successful designers and independent retailers,” says raffi topaz, erayo.

Style 2009

First Lady Drives Season’s Trends Michelle Obama has, arguably, stolen Hollywood’s spotlight, becoming the most-watched style icon … Perhaps one of the biggest the reasons for Obama’s influence is the accessibility of her style. … Michelle O. opts for the likes of J. Crew over Valentino—making her choices for clothes and jewelry within reach of…

Gem Pricing Report

despite the harsh economy, the gemstone market, like the broader market, is showing signs of stabilizing. aggressive movement by major mining and manufacturing firms in the diamond and colored stone industries has helped ease inventory concerns. scaling back of production, while painful, was critical to long-term recovery.

Tips For Struggling Businesses, Continued

last month i introduced several concepts put forth by john chidsey, president and chief executive officer of burger king, to help struggling firms. the first two points were to focus on two or three major drivers that will make the biggest impact on the business, namely revenue generation, cost and expense control, and cash management.

Jeweler Features Open Showcases

a canadian jewelry store that allows customers unlimited try-ons of replicas of its pieces is coming to the united states. nine-store spence diamonds, based in vancouver, canada, is the stalking horse bidder for six stores from robbins bros. (currently in chapter 11), three in the chicago market and three in houston.


remembered david michael trout, founding partner of coffin & trout fine jewellers, chandler, ariz., died suddenly on march 15 while hiking. he was 51. trout and his friend of nearly 30 years, randy coffin, founded coffin & trout fine jewellers in 1984. over the years, trout’s designs garnered numerous design awards, including nine agta spectrum awards.

Tanishq Takes on America

the indian-based jeweler tanishq has opened two stores in the united states, its first in july 2008 at the woodfield shopping center in schaumburg, ill., and its second last november at garden state plaza in paramus, n.j. jck recently visited the paramus store. the tanishq store is design driven and lifestyle focused, with accessibly priced jewelry, all in 18k gold.

Spiff the Store Without Breaking the Bank

jck talked with jack tiemann, aia, an architect based in jersey city, n.j., about sprucing up a store without ratcheting up costs. tiemann has designed both residential and commercial buildings and also worked in the store planning department of tiffany & co. for two years. lighting. ok, this one can be expensive.

The Industry

manufacturers findings manufacturer ba ballou was put into receivership in march, although an employee of the 130-year-old company said it hopes to reopen under a new “management agreement.” fourteen protesters were arrested trying to block the auction of the assets of colibri group, providence journal reports.

RFID to the Rescue

the type of technology associated with criminal prevention and the recovery of stolen property often involves things like video surveillance, alarm systems, and gps tracking. it’s rare that inventory-management technology is credited with helping to recover stolen goods, but sissy jones, of sissy’s log cabin, says it did precisely that.

Fast Stats : What Do (Engaged) Woman Want?

75 percent of brides-to-be will adjust their wedding budget as a result of the economy. 25 percent will cut their budget in more than half. 53 percent of brides-to-be don’t plan to spend more than $25,000 on their wedding. 34 percent said they plan to spend $10,000 or less. 45 percent said they won’t compromise on their wedding bands.


northeast marvin soskil, president of brett harrison jewelers, melville, n.y., was honored by the long island breakfast club for his contributions to the community, according to new york newsday. soskil has supported such organizations as ronald mcdonald house, national hemophilia foundation, long island fight for charity, and others.

Jeweler Makes Headlines With Helping Hand

in january, debbie fox was just another person feeling powerless amid the headlines of mass layoffs and home foreclosures. but then the owner of fox’s fine jewelers in ventura, calif., had an idea: although no one could give her struggling neighbors their jobs or homes back, she at least could give them a piece of jewelry.

Why Did Robbins Bros. Fail?

robbins bros.’ recent chapter 11 filing happened because the company expanded too much, too quickly, sources said. after the chain was recapitalized in 2004, partly by investment firm weston presidio, it went from seven stores to 16 in about four years, opening new markets in dallas, chicago, and houston.

Pseudo Sales

i recently read about the dramatic reversal of fortunes in dubai. some 500,000 cars have been abandoned by departing foreign workers, and construction has ground to a near halt, including completion of the world’s tallest building. businesses are bailing out. it brought to mind a conversation i had a couple of years ago with an american engineer as we returned to the united states from dubai.

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