October 2011

25 Holiday Survival Tips for Retail Jewelers

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The Rosebery Tiara Sells for $2 Million at Christie’s

Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara was impressive, but it was nothing compared with this mid–Victorian headpiece. The former ­property of Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery, it fetched $1.9 million at Christie’s ­London Important Jewels sale in June. “That the tiara survived in the original form was remarkable,” says Keith Penton, F.G.A., D.G.A., head of jewelry at…

Colored Stones: Goldesign Plants a Brazilian Garden

How Does Your Garden Grow? Like (oddly enough) an English garden, a colored stone pendant from Goldesign in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, tells a colorful and unruly tale of flowers, foliage, and butterflies. Designer Ana Marcia Albuquerque’s 18k gold homage to nature is rendered in amethyst, beryl, peridot, tsavorite, topaz, rubies, rubellite, and diamonds. From sketch…

Platinum: PGI U.K. Hits the Road & More

Road Trip Platinum Guild International U.K. recently gave five retailers in the United Kingdom a taste of the rock-star lifestyle—albeit one without ear-piercing­ music or weeklong bus trips. There was, however, no shortage of adoring admirers for each leg of the Platinum Retailer Tour, the organization’s first-ever traveling exhibit, featuring winning pieces in the 2010…

Silver: Lecil Henderson Wins Hoosier Hearts (and Wallets)

Mr. Henderson Presents Lecil Henderson doesn’t take no for an answer. Last year alone, he persuaded retailers to host 90 trunk shows for his Italian-made flexible jewels. His most recent convert is Gold Casters in Bloomington, Ind., a store that had recently picked up Henderson’s new silver and enamel line (starting retail: $450). Initially, owner…

Gold: H.Stern’s Copernicus Collection, World Gold Council’s Wedding Campaign

Saying ‘I Do’ to Gold A new bridal campaign called “Gold Makes It a Marriage” from the World Gold Council puts karat gold wedding bands in the spotlight as the ultimate symbol of commitment. “Long after the cake has been eaten, the ‘I do’s’ are said and done, and the details begin to fade, it…

Diamonds: Cleaning Up New York’s Diamond District & More

Radiation Warning On July 26, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee issued an unpleasant wake-up call to retailers that sell irradiated diamonds: They may be unknowingly breaking the law. According to the JVC, diamonds that have been subjected to radiation can only be imported into the United States by entities licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.…

Gem Pricing Report: Hustle and Slow

Many buyers have been priced out of the market, meaning a correction may be in order Both diamond and colored stone dealers reported that sales in August slowed considerably from earlier in the summer. Increasing concerns about the direction of the U.S. economy and unease in Europe appear to have curbed many consumers’ appetite for…

A Tour of Theo Fennell’s Secret Garden Ring

Rainy days (and Mondays) getting you down? We have the perfect pick-me-up: Theo Fennell’s Secret ­Garden. The 18k gold, tourmaline, diamond, and enamel ring immediately transported us to a sun-soaked, flower-filled estate; coincidentally, that’s how Fennell got the idea for this ingenious jewel (retail: 38,500 GBP). “I was sitting in a great friend of mine’s…

Holiday Survival Guide: Diamond Studs, Shoulder-Dusters & Bangles—Oh My!

Colorful cocktail rings? Of course. Totally trendy skinny earrings? No problem. We hunted down the holiday season’s best and brightest new looks in prices ranging from steal to splurge. Let the buying begin! COCKTAIL RINGS Paradise ring in silver with labradorite and turquoise; $239; KumKum, Malmö, Sweden; 46-4097-9543; shopkumkumjewelry.com Miss Havisham crystal-encrusted ring in rose…

25 Holiday Survival Tips for Retail Jewelers

We’ve curated three months of expert tips guaranteed to take your holiday sales, marketing, and merchandising efforts to the next level. Here’s to peace, love, and big ticket gifts for everyone! Sure, you know the drill. Every holiday, the rituals begin anew. Out comes the box of decorations, the seasonal sales staff roster, the DustBuster.…

JCK 5: Welcome to Miami

Designers to look for at Jewelers International Showcase in Miami, Oct. 15–18: (Above)1. Lattice collection bangle in sterling silver and rubber with amethyst, lavender, pink, and white CZ; $665; Belle Étoile, San Francisco; 877-838-6728; mybelleetoile.com   2. Silver ring with 18k gold and carved amethyst center; $612; Cydonia & Co., Great Neck, N.Y.; 516-472-7421; cydoniajewelry.com…

Vintage Chic at the Miami Beach Antique Jewelry & Watch Show

Don’t let the laid-back locale fool you. Millions of dollars change hands at the Miami antique show Miami Beach is known for its bathing beauties, Art Deco architecture, and see-and-be-seen nightclubs. But when the Annual Miami Beach Antique Jewelry & Watch Show comes to town, ­jewelry takes center stage. From Oct. 14 to 16, estate…

JCK Luxury Spotlight: The Flush Life

Jewelers agree: Affluent customers are spending again. But could problems in the equity markets scare them away? Last April, Jay Mednikow began noticing something he hadn’t seen in a while: wealthy customers. “We started getting high-end sales on a regular basis, very much how it was before the recession,” says the owner of Mednikow Jewelers…

JCK 5: Chinese Takeaways

What can an independent jewelry store do to capitalize on the Chinese tourist boom? 1. Commit to this audience. Nothing but total commitment will help you reap the rewards of this marketing opportunity. Consider creating a marketing group dedicated to programs for Chinese tourists. 2. Negotiate with key players. Locate ­Chinese nationals, organizations, or schools…

Catering to Jewelry-Loving Chinese Shoppers

Armed with newly minted tourist visas, Chinese visitors are coming to America in search of luxury goods. Prepare yourself for the decade’s biggest marketing opportunity. Several years ago, Julie Sather-Browne, vice president of ­Sather’s Leading Jewelers in Fort Collins, Colo., was approached by the manager of a local water-purification consulting firm with a significant presence…

Think Globally, Sell Locally

Want to incorporate more international flair into your showcases? Take a page from the experts. Five years ago, Maria Benavides, co-owner of Soho Gem in New York City, started carrying a line of enamel, precious stone, and gold rings made in Italy. The look was pretty and popular, but a year after she sold the…

The Suite Life of Joan Crawford

Every diva needs a favorite piece of jewelry. Befitting her outsize personality, Joan Crawford had three. This brooch, bracelet, and necklace—created by Parisian jewelry house Verger Frères for Boucheron circa 1935 and acquired by the future Oscar winner soon thereafter—feature 131 cts. of oval-cut aquamarines and 11.5 cts. of round brilliant-cut platinum-set diamonds in 18k…

JCK Asks…Erica Courtney

Her secrets to getting and staying Gorgeous When a woman wants to look gorgeous, she can turn to any number of talented jewelry designers. When she wants to look Drop Dead Gorgeous, there’s only one: Erica Courtney. The Los Angeles–based Courtney ­actually trademarked the phrase for her signature luxury line. “At my first few shows,…

The (Shaun) Leane Years

British designer Shaun Leane works his magic gearing up for U.S. expansion while opening his first store in Southeast Asia Shaun Leane is a man of contrasts. If you look closely at the British designer’s ­jewelry, you’ll often notice a gentleness foiled with an edge—an unexpected, perhaps even macabre side that comes from his artistic…

Innovative Retailer: Greenwich Jewelers’ Christina Gandia Gambale & Jennifer Gandia

These New York City sisters are doing it for themselves Though Christina Gandia Gambale and ­sister Jennifer Gandia officially took ownership of their parents’ 35-year-old jewelry store just a year ago, they’ve spent years putting their stamp on Manhattan’s Greenwich Jewelers. Located just blocks from the World Trade Center site, the store not only survived…

Fairfax & Roberts

44 Martin Pl., Sydney It isn’t easy to outshine the shimmering blue water of Sydney’s world-famous harbor, but the luxe gems that populate the city’s oldest jewelry store come pretty close. For more than 150 years, discerning Antipodeans have coveted the bespoke creations and world-class service that are the hallmark of Fairfax & Roberts, located…

It’s All Relative: Barron’s Fine Jewelry

The Singadias built their Atlanta superstore on years of internationally sourced jewelry expertise The Singadias’ ties to the jewelry and watch trade span three generations and four continents: Nanji Singadia’s father, Khimji, repaired watches and sold parts in India and then in Kenya. Not surprisingly, Nanji went into the watchmaking trade as well, eventually opening…

Google+ or Minus?

How seriously should you, your business, and the jewelry industry take the hottest new social network? Now that we have embraced Facebook and are experimenting with Twitter, Google is asking us to take on yet another social network: Google+. While it’s tempting to ignore yet another option in a very crowded (cyber)space, that may prove…

Advertising in the Digital Age

Courting clients in the online era requires tact, tech savvy, and patience One of the finest marketing books ever written is Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins. In fact, the late David Ogilvy, head of the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather—and himself no slouch when it came to writing about effective marketing—insisted every new employee…

The Hart of New Orleans

Looking for an eleventh-hour engagement ring in New Orleans? Tommy Aucoin’s your man. 1. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service? A few years ago, a man calls me on Feb. 13, asking if I can make a ring [for his then-girlfriend] in time for Valentine’s Day. My bench ­jewelers said…

Retail Jewelers Cautiously Optimistic About Holiday Sales Bumps

At the start of the fourth quarter, there’s one thing retailers want to know: Will Christmas sales be a lump of coal or a welcome gift? Although the fickle stock market cast a long shadow across the third quarter, retailers, manufacturers, and market watchers predict that—barring any unforeseen shocks to the economy—seasonal ­jewelry buying will…

JCK 5: Five Ways to Drive Conversion Rates

1. Understand why people don’t buy by observing their behavior in your store. It could reflect a lack of acknowledgment or assistance, long lines, or poor merchandising. 2. Schedule staff according to store traffic hours, not transactions. Having plenty of staff on hand during the store’s busiest traffic times increases your chances to convert. 3.…

Opal

It is appropriate that opal, the gem notable for its unique play of color, possesses a vibrant history and myriad myths. The Arabs believed opal fell from the sky during thunderstorms and brought protection to those who carried it. The ancient Romans considered the opal a symbol of hope and purity, calling it the Queen…

Industry & People

COMINGS AND GOINGS >>?On Aug. 3, the Diamond Empowerment Fund named Nancy Lyman, former director of consumer confidence for De Beers Group Marketing at JWT Advertising, executive director and vice president. Phyllis Bergman, CEO of Englewood, N.J.–based Mercury Ring, was elected president of the DEF governing board. Charles Tearle >>?Antiquorum Auctioneers named Charles Tearle head…

Diamonds in the Ruff

Diamonds may be forever—but they are definitely not for dinner. Yet try telling that to Honey Bun, the 19-month-old Pomeranian who downed $10,000 worth of diamonds in mid-August. Chuck Roberts, co-owner of both John Ross Jewelers in Albany, Ga., and Honey Bun, tells JCK it all started when he absentmindedly left a bag of 1…

Maine Jeweler “All Shook Up” Over Elvis Watch

Windham Jewelers in Windham, Maine, drew huge crowds in August when it displayed a 14k gold Hamilton watch once owned by Elvis Presley. “It was a complete frenzy,” says owner Kathy Byrnes. “We had a Jackie Kennedy piece [once], but it didn’t get this much attention.” The Tankers, one of the original Elvis fan clubs,…

L.A. Jeweler Foils Suspected Theft Ring

Five men were arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery on Aug. 1 after a ­jewelry district merchant noticed a silver Cadillac suspiciously circling the block. According to the Los Angeles Police Department news release, the merchant pushed his panic alarm and police arrived. The Cadillac—which had circled the block three…

JSA: Robberies, Burglaries Up

The Jewelers’ Security ­Alliance reported in its preliminary crime report for the first half of 2011 that robberies involving jewelers are up 44 percent and burglaries are up 9 percent. During the first six months of the year, there were 161 robberies involving losses of $19 million, up from 112 robbery cases with losses of…

Gold Price Pulls Ahead of Platinum

Jewelers couldn’t believe their eyes in early August when the price of gold temporarily topped the price of the traditionally more expensive platinum. At press time, the two metals were roughly at parity, with gold trading at $1,818 an ounce and platinum at $1,850. “We have seen gold approaching platinum for some time now,” says…

Adwar Casting Sues Unique Settings

On Aug. 2, Adwar Casting added additional claims to its copyright infringement lawsuit against Unique Settings of New York, initially filed last April. The complaint, which seeks $13 million in damages, claims Unique Settings is infringing on Adwar’s designs. It also charges that Unique obtained the exclusive account number and password issued to an Adwar…

Swiss Franc Driving Up Watch Prices

With the Swiss franc hitting record levels against the dollar, leading watch manufacturers are warning retailers that they will have to raise prices. At press time, the franc, traditionally viewed as a “reserve currency,” had jumped 25 percent since the ­beginning of 2011, according to Forex NewsNow.com. ­And Switzerland-based manufacturers, some of whom have instituted…

Jewelers Say Pandora Still Charms

Although Pandora announced in August that worldwide charm sales had plunged, many ­jewelers say they haven’t seen any declines. “Sales have been good for us,” says William Sites, owner of Sites Jewelers in Nashville, Tenn. “We get new customers in all the time. It is still a big traffic driver.” Miguel Gonzalez, owner of Miami…

N.Y. Catwalks Champion Athletic Wear, Prints, and Color

Jewelry designers browsing the shows at New York Fashion Week, Sept. 8–15, for inspirational cues may have come up a bit empty—at least at the start. The big buzzword seemed to be minimal. And not minimal as in clean contours and streamlined silhouettes, but minimal as in where-the-heck-has-all-the-jewelry-gone? Of course, not everyone went the barely…

JCK 5: Checking the Balance Sheets

The major publicly traded jewelry retailers reported mostly good quarterly sales and earnings results: 1. Zale Corp.’s revenues for the fourth quarter, ended July 31, totaled $377 million, a 9 percent increase from 2010, while its net loss ballooned to $33 million, up from $29 million last year. 2. Signet Jewelers’ sales for the second…

The Holiday 411 Is Here!

Welcome to our Holiday Survival Guide! In addition to featuring a ­special ­­section jam-packed with tips on making this your most profitable season ever, we’re also taking our holiday help online with two free exciting webinars on Oct. 21 and Nov. 17. The first webinar, “Getting the Most Green for Christmas,” features staffing and training…

’Tis the Season to Sell

In May, while driving from Los Angeles to the JCK show in Las Vegas, I decided to make a pit stop at the Tanger Outlet stores located off Interstate 15, on the outskirts of Barstow (a.k.a. Nowheresville). Judging by the six massive white tour buses stationed in the parking lot, I wasn’t the only one…

10 Things Rocking the Industry

1. Fashion Mother Nature must be a closet fashionista. After days of downpours, Manhattan got a brief respite on Sept. 8—just in time to strap on some stilettos for Fashion’s Night Out, the annual kickoff to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Swanky shops all over the city cranked up the music, popped champagne, and passed out gift…