September 2008

State of the Industry: 10 Ways to Revitalize the Jewelry Business

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Independents Forever

much has been said the last few years about the declining number of jewelry operations in the united states, especially among independent jewelers. i noted jewelers board of trade figures last month. some take this to mean the days of the independents are over; that this industry will consolidate as so many other retail industries have.

Inventor of First Synthetic Diamond Dies

h. tracy hall, the general electric scientist who became the first person to produce a diamond, died recently at 88. in 1948, after earning a doctoral degree from the university of utah, hall joined general electric’s project superpressure to convert carbon into diamond. in 1954, hall made headlines worldwide when he produced the first diamond chemically identical to those found in nature.

Watchmaker Severin Wunderman

watchmaker and philanthropist severin wunderman, former maker of gucci watches and owner of corum luxury watches, died suddenly of a stroke june 25 while vacationing in nice, france. he was 69. wunderman was renowned in the watch industry for building gucci and corum into premiere international watch brands.

Zale Appoints New President

zale corp. recently appointed a new president, theo killion, one of a string of executives at the company who come from outside the jewelry industry. killion reports to chief executive officer neal goldberg, who has relinquished the role of president. goldberg, formerly president of the children’s place, took over the company in december 2007.

The State of the Business

the only way to describe the state of the business at this point is to use words like worry, concern, and yet hopeful. it seems there is nothing on the industry scoreboard that provides much of anything positive. the whitehall story, rumors of other chapter 11s to come, and activity at trade fairs showing reduced results from prior years have everyone concerned.

Richard Hughes Leaves AGTA GTC

gemologist and author richard hughes has resigned as senior staff gemologist for the american gem trade association’s gemological testing center. hughes worked at gtc for four years in the west coast laboratory. hughes will work with loretta castoro, also a former agta-gtc employee, at gems tv, the on-air television gem sales company based in singapore, with offices in bangkok, thailand.

Watch Out!

the watch brands a jewelry store carries are an important indication of the kind of store it is. yet, time and again, there’s a disconnect between a store’s fine-jewelry merchandise and the types of watches it sells. other jewelry retailers offer a gorgeous selection of fine-watch brands, but the jewelry seems like an afterthought.

FTC Allows ‘Cultured’

in a setback for jewelry associations, the federal trade commission said qualified use of the term cultured diamonds should be allowed to describe lab-created stones. a petition submitted to the ftc by jewelers vigilance committee and 10 jewelry industry trade associations asked that the commission amend the guides for the jewelry, precious metals, and pewter industries to state that it is dece…

From the Blogs

are you selling watches over jewelry? at least one to two people a week come into my store asking for watches. it may be that there are not too many jewelry stores that sell watches in my area. it may be because watches serve a purpose other than just being a piece of jewelry. being said that—i am hoping to bring in a couple watch lines.

Whitehall Liquidates

whitehall jewelers, a jewelry chain with nearly 400 stores and more than a century of history behind it, is liquidating less than two months after it filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. it’s the second major jewelry chain to liquidate this year. in an e-mail to company managers, then-ceo michael don said it was obvious the chain had to close after its aug.

What’s the Value of Hedge Funds?

bankruptcies are never pleasant, but whitehall’s creditors got a particularly unpleasant surprise at the company’s first bankruptcy hearing. according to witnesses and court documents, company attorneys say they can claim ownership of consignment goods unless the goods’ ucc filings are “perfected.

Colibri Gets New Financing

the colibri group said it has completed financing that includes an equity investment by the company’s major shareholder and simultaneous recapitalization of the company’s bank lines. “this transaction affords the company the opportunity to effectuate our growth strategy, better serve our diverse customer base, and pursue selective acquisition opportunities,” said ceo jim fleet.

The JCK-Harrison Group Consumer Jewelry Study, Part II

when it comes to buying jewelry, it’s still a retailer’s world. according to findings from the jck–harrison group consumer jewelry study, in an unaided-recall question about jewelry brands, consumers identified retail names, not product names, most often (see “the jck–harrison group consumer jewelry study,” jck, july 2008, p.

Best in Show 2008 [Part II]

most increased profile with de beers seriously rethinking its marketing, it wasn’t surprising that the traditional breakfast presentation from the diamond promotion service didn’t happen this year. but the natural colored diamond association was all over the place holding seminars and even throwing its own lavish breakfast in dps’s former time slot.

Consumer Confidence Holds Steady, Still Low

after declining in june, the conference board consumer confidence index held fairly steady in july, rising from 51 to 51.9. the conference board’s present situation index was 65.3 versus 65.4 last month. the expectations index was up slightly, from 41.4 in june to 43 in july. “consumers’ assessment of current conditions was little changed, suggesting there has been no significant improve…

State of the Industry: 10 Ways to Revitalize the Jewelry Business

we have a powerful product. richard lennox, group account director for the de beers account at jwt, puts it this way: “a piece of diamond jewelry is something you give, and it will be remembered forever. i can remember every single time i bought my wife a piece of diamond jewelry. i can’t remember what i bought her last christmas.

Mervyn’s, Boscov’s File Chapter 11

two regional department store chains, mervyn’s and boscov’s, both recently filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. mervyn’s, based in hayward, calif., filed in july. it operates more than 177 stores in seven states located primarily in regional malls, community shopping centers, and freestanding sites.

Do We Need the Mall Jewelers?

why hasn’t the jewelry industry experienced the kind of consolidation that wiped out most other independent retailers? why hasn’t jewelry gone the way of hardware, books, appliances, and stationery, devolving into a national duopoly duking it out for market share? one could argue that books and stationery don’t require a lot of specialized knowledge, and unless one is in the market for a restau…

Time to Enter the JCK Jewelers Choice Awards!

hard to believe, but it has been a full year since our inaugural jck jewelers choice awards! as i’ve mentioned before, last year’s awards were a tremendous success, with 430 entries and 11,054 retailer votes. we’re confident this year’s contest will be just as exciting—if not more so! we’ve added a spectacular, tabloid-size jck jewelers choice awards print preview, to be distributed with …

Attentive Selling Equals Good Security

not long ago, i met a former armed robber at a jewelry convention in the united kingdom. during a lecture about the techniques he used to steal from fine-jewelry stores, he observed that it was often so easy nobody was aware of it until after he’d left. for me, this was a chance of a lifetime to have him role-play me through a sale and see where i was vulnerable to being robbed.

Genender, Skagen File Counter Lawsuits

two u.s. watch companies—genender international and skagen designs—have filed legal actions against each other over the design of genender’s hamlin watch line. skagen designs’ suit alleges that genender’s hamlin watches illegally infringe on skagen’s rights of trade dress under federal patent and trademark law.

5 Marketing Tips for a Successful Holiday Selling Season

holiday sales results across the jewelry industry last year were mixed—retailers catering to the very wealthy fared well, but those targeting a more aspirational clientele teetered. this year, retailers face increasing competition from major chains, big-box stores, and web-based retailers. meanwhile, inflation, gas prices, and unemployment are rising, and incomes and consumer confidence a…

Appointments

Frederick Goldman Inc. has appointed Tom Tanner vice president of marketing. Tanner, who has more than 15 years of marketing experience, will be responsible for marketing strategy, brand management, communications, and sales support. Prior to joining Frederick Goldman, Tanner served as senior director of marketing at Andin International. Gannon & Scott, refiner and assayer of…

Newswire

jck editors jennifer heebner and carrie soucy [pictured below] won the american gem society’s richard t. liddicoat journalism award in the industry/trade reporting category for “seal of disapproval,” which appeared in the winter 2008 issue of jck luxury. the article investigates heightened consumer interest in product origins due to recent issues with imports.

Exclusively Diamonds

it wasn’t the usual tailgating party. for starters, the line was mostly women. instead of beer and burgers in the afternoon, it was coffee and mimosas in the morning. the crowd wasn’t looking forward to a kickoff or a concert—they were waiting in line for the start of pearls day out, a promotion at mankato, minn.

Gem Pricing Report

the u.s. wholesale market is slow. high prices for food and energy have cut into consumer spending on nonessentials. but a recent decline in gold and oil prices as the dollar firmed may mean the commodity bubble has burst. this could rein in gas prices, which would improve consumer confidence. in the colored stone market, dealers are coping with the ban on gem and mineral exports imposed by the…

Burma Rubies Banned

president bush has signed the tom lantos block burmese jade act of 2008, designed to punish burma’s brutal ruling regime by banning the importation of rubies and jade from that country into the united states. congress approved the bill july 22. experts said the act closes a loophole that allowed stones to be cut outside burma and thus not be considered burmese when imported.

Dee Congress

dee congress, who founded southwest florida’s congress jewelers with her husband in 1983, died on sanibel island, fla., aug. 5. she was 65 and had battled cancer for more than three decades. dee and her husband, larry, began the jewelry business, which now has five southwest florida locations, from two showcases in a sanibel island shoe store.

Foreclosure Activity Increases in Second Quarter 2008

nationwide foreclosure activity increased 14 percent in the second quarter of 2008, and 121 percent over q2 2007, according to the q2 2008 u.s. foreclosure market report by realtytrac, irvine, calif. realtytrac is a national database of foreclosure and bank-owned properties. foreclosure filings were reported on 739,714 u.

The State of the Business

the only way to describe the state of the business at this point is to use words like worry, concern, and yet hopeful. it seems there is nothing on the industry scoreboard that provides much of anything positive. the whitehall story, rumors of other chapter 11s to come, and activity at trade fairs showing reduced results from prior years have everyone concerned.

Anna Ruth Henriques

painter, sculptor, author, and jewelry designer anna ruth henriques was born and raised in kingston, jamaica, daughter of a jamaican mother and an afro-caribbean jewish father. inspired by the tension between her cultures and by the natural beauty of her surroundings, she began developing her technique in sculpture and painting as a young child and turned to jewelry making later in life.