September 2009

Jewelry Industry Credit Tightens Up

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AGS Lays Off One-Third of Staff

the american gem society has laid off five employees, reducing its staff by about a third. among them was margaret deyoung, its deputy executive director, and four others behind the scenes. “our members are having a tough time, and that trickles down to us,” said ruth batson, ags executive director.

M & M, Part 2

last month i discussed margins. this month it’s the other “m”—memo. the industry has a love/hate relationship with it. it has a bad name because suppliers think retailers abuse it; because it doesn’t protect the interests of the supplier in case of a retailer bankruptcy; and because suppliers never seem to make enough money on memo to justify it.

Can Someone Be Too Young to Wear Big Diamonds?

having angelina jolie wear your jewelry to the academy awards is, without a doubt, a coup for your company since it sends the message that jolie likes your aesthetic, and that other adult women may also find it appealing. but i’m not sure what message is sent when a very young girl wears a significant diamond necklace in the spotlight.

Zale, Signet ‘Medium Risk’ for Bankruptcy

real estate investment firm madison marquette recently classified jewelry chains zale and signet as “medium risk” for bankruptcy in its roundup of retailers. while that sounds dire, the two chains are in good company on madison’s list (which includes starbucks and the gap), and the write-ups were actually encouraging.

Ultra Stores Emerges From Chapter 11

ultra stores, the value-priced diamond chain based in chicago, emerged from chapter 11 little more than three months after filing in april. the bankruptcy was described then as “pre-packaged” and included an agreement with its vendors and banks. “the judge was very complimentary,” says spokeswoman kris land.

Sell Like a Kindergartner

in the spirit of jewelers of america joining forces with jewelry information center, helena krodel, jic’s director of media and special events, offers sales advice based on robert fulghum’s all i really need to know i learned in kindergarten. for more tips from jewelers of america, sign up to receive the “tips to thrive” e-newsletter at www.

JCK Wins Two Awards

the jck publishing group recently won two tabbie awards from the trade, association and business publications international. jck’s april 2008 “the green issue” won the silver award for best single issue. judges said: “jck has put together a nearly perfect issue—it’s simple to navigate and packed with practical information that’s presented in an easy-to-read format.

It’s 2009: Do You Know Where the Kids Are?

at the plumb club forum last year, a panel of jewelry industry leaders offered their views about the most pressing issues facing this industry. doug hucker, executive director of agta, raised a point that caught the audience by surprise. there were, he pointed out, very few young people coming into this industry.

Behind the Image

have photographs of you and your store available, including high-resolution digital versions, preferably in “tif” or “jpg” format. high resolution means 300 dpi (dots per inch), but make sure images are large enough—four by six inches is a good rule of thumb. (you can change a low-res image to 300 dpi, but it will shrink and probably won’t be usable.

Did Fortunoff Have to File Chapter 11?

fortunoff’s bankruptcy in february, which eventually led to its liquidation, was one of the most bitter of recent years, with many creditors complaining about the raw deal they got from owner nrdc. now some charge the filing didn’t have to happen. the official committee of unsecured creditors of fortunoff recently filed suit against the holding company for the famed retailer, as well as lenders…

Modern Jeweler Suspends Publication

modern jeweler, the trade magazine that has been a glossy, literate staple of the industry since 1901, is suspending publication. sister magazine lustre is suspending publication as well. the moves came as parent company cygnus business media laid off 50 people and suspended several other titles. cygnus spokeswoman kathy scott said the suspended magazines “were all great titles” but…

Gem Pricing Report

the u.s. gemstone industry remains weak. domestic jewelry producers also report weak activity. tightened credit requirements continue to restrain consumer spending. forward-thinking manufacturers have shifted to products with price points supportable by current market conditions, which increased the use of melee in finished goods.

Turning a Corner

anyone else see that light—the flicker at the end of a seemingly long and dark retail tunnel? jck luxury does, and it’s getting brighter each day. that’s because consumerism has possibly turned a corner. better-than-expected sales have been reported at recent trade fairs, innovative and savvy retail jewelers continue to skillfully adapt promotions and merchandise mixes to changing times, …

Bartering Makes a Surprise Comeback

upon entering mark enix’s store, it appears to be just a recently remodeled retail outlet. but for every tile laid, wall painted, and wire grounded, there’s a customer story. enix didn’t spend one dime renovating his store. fountain city jewelers, in knoxville, tenn., was remodeled through bartering.

Retailer Soundoff

what line of jewelry do you expect to be your best seller this holiday season and why? gail friedman, owner, sarah leonard fine jewelers, los angeles i think bridal will be big this year because lots of people think about getting engaged around the holidays, and then the ring counts as the holiday gift as well.

Jeff Roseman, David Harvey Jewelers, Norwalk, Conn.

what’s the most ambitious goal you’ve attempted? the most ambitious goal we have taken is the november opening of our second store, in darien, conn. while many of our competitors have taken a defensive step during uncertain times, we have taken an aggressive step toward protecting our future growth.

Finlay Goes Chapter 11

as was long expected, 120-year-old finlay enterprises and its subsidiary companies filed for chapter 11 in august, and it looks like the entire chain could liquidate. the stalking-horse bidder for the chain is gordon brothers, which, according to court papers, plans to liquidate “substantially all of the debtors’ remaining assets, subject to higher and better offers received at an auction.

Use a Difficult Market to Improve Your Staff

two related behavioral trends are emerging from this difficult market. first, the best talent pool we’ve seen in a decade is searching for their next opportunity, yet many jewelers are not taking advantage. second, many members of lower management are intimidated by these potential hires and not recommending them.

On Blogging

over the past few months, i’ve paid more attention to blogging. i have a problem with the stream-of-consciousness and mostly thoughtless nonsense presented by many bloggers. and the disguised identities that many use allow them to hide in anonymity while they bash industry people and institutions. when the gemological institute of america was in the midst of the grading scandal, there were nume…

No Crystal Ball!

nobody has a crystal ball that can tell the future, but the days of rapid growth and huge sales increases are clearly over, so it’s more important than ever to maximize every opportunity. the people waiting on customers must be trained to a level that many have never known before. the sales manager (or owner) has to be trained to train the sales staff.

Kentucky Jeweler Wins Suit Over Emerald Valuation

in a decision mostly applauded by the trade, a louisville, ky., jury said a kentucky jeweler did not defraud a customer, now deceased, when he sold him a 42.00 ct. emerald necklace with a $300,000 markup. the case seemed unprecedented: jim jackson, owner of aesthetics in jewelry, in louisville, in march 2005 sold client robinson s.

From the JCKonline.com Blogs

i believe jewelers still need to see and touch jewelry, just like their customers. i believe jewelers still need and rely on exceptional customer service from their suppliers, just like their customers expect it from them. i believe most jewelry is bought and sold in person and not electronically, by jewelers as well as their customers.

Philly Jeweler Takes Fun Seriously

steven singer, owner of philadelphia’s steven singer jewelers, created one of the most successful—if somewhat counterintuitive—ad campaigns ever launched by a retail jeweler, and it’s still going strong after 11 years. the “i hate steven singer” campaign had its origins in 1998 when a customer told singer he hadn’t purchased a gift of jewelry for his wife since their eng…

Psychic Selling

even with her psychic connection, morgan hill jewelers owner laura petersen could not have predicted the success of her first trunk show, which sold $5,400 worth of jewelry in two hours. the occasion was the launch of a new line of jewelry ($19 to $99 retail) featuring ancient symbols and talismans by world-renowned psychic sylvia browne.

Four Questions to Ask Before Buying Advertising

to make sure every dollar you spend on marketing is used effectively, ask yourself these questions (and get some answers): where does your store rank among competitors in consumers’ awareness? i worked on projects for independent jewelers in two major cities that chose not to invest in advertising. both were in business for close to 100 years.

Book Smarts

for a book or an author to attempt to explain emerging technologies, alternative media, and the so-called “new world order” is risky at best (since things are changing, evolving, and going obsolete at warp speed). but lisa johnson succinctly and interestingly defines these new gen x and gen y consumers into a demographic group she often refers to as the “connected generation.

Dr. Seuss on Succession Planning: Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!

in august 1972, the celebrated children’s author dr. seuss addressed the issue of succession planning. his chief character in the book marvin k. mooney will you please go now! couldn’t bring himself to get out of the way and let someone else take center stage. in july 1974, dr. seuss sent a copy of the book—with the main character’s name changed to richard m.

Jewelry Industry Credit Tightens Up

this recession has had many casualties, but the most far-reaching could be the long-standing jewelry industry tradition of extended terms and easy memo. many suppliers say they can no longer afford to be the jewelry industry’s bankers, leaving their “capital” sitting in retailers’ cases, sometimes for years.

Corrections

a photo caption on p. 64 of the july 2009 issue of jck included an incorrect name. the caption should read: guests at the tao beach party sponsored by robb report, held during the luxury by jck show, include [from left] susan duffy, chopard; isabella fiske, lieberfarb; yancy weinrich, jck events; and ann arnold, lieberfarb.

Zale Closes 118 Stores

zale said it closed 118 underperforming retail locations during its fourth quarter, which makes 191 stores closed during calendar year 2009. zale also announced it will record charges and reserves totaling approximately $23 million to cover its lease obligations for the bailey banks & biddle chain.

Improve Performance With a POS System

here are five ways an automated point-of-sale system can help you succeed: tim malone, ph.d., is a jewelry industry consultant, author, speaker, trainer, and educator who specializes in helping jewelry businesses improve sales, marketing, and merchandising management through training. he can be reached at netvalue@cox.

Pratima Sethi

location and contact san francisco; (415) 255-4768; www.sethicouture.com. (formerly manak couture) signature style and inspiration modernized art deco looks with natural-color rose-cut and briolette diamonds. designed for women who appreciate “casual luxury” (wearing fine jewelry every day), says sethi.

JA No Longer Funding Affiliates

a jewelers of america restructuring will make affiliates responsible for collecting their own dues and could have a serious impact on the state groups’ futures. ja’s leaders say the changes (see box for details) will let state groups boost their memberships, independently manage money matters, and create better state and regional networking events through increased communications.

At Last

who is your favorite jewelry designer? my favorite new designer is nina basharova. she has a unique sensibility—witty, classic, fun, and vibrant—that is reflected in her jewelry. it speaks to many contemporary women, including me. i love her barbed wire collection. what is your first memory of jewelry? a delicately wrought silver and amethyst pendant i bought in nova scotia when i…

The Go-Getter

my whole drive in life was based on how i could get to live out those [kinds of] experiences,” brodie told jck during her photo shoot for this article (which started, at brodie’s request, several hours later than typical jck shoots). even with a reprieve, though, brodie arrived nearly 40 minutes late; she’d been on the phone with her agent, declining a spot on the real housewives of new y…

Diamond Displays Get Creative

the old way of displaying diamonds is gone,” says shane decker, president of ex-sell-ence. gone are the days of linear, symmetrical displays of diamonds and diamond jewelry that blend a store’s best and brightest with the rest of the inventory. in recent years, jewelers have been taking the advice of sales professionals, visual merchandising experts, interior design gurus, and lighting l…

[Analysis] The ‘Post-Cartel’ Diamond World Faces Its First Crisis

in a 1998 interview, nicky oppenheimer told jck: in good times, people often say, ‘we don’t need de beers,’ and it’s true; in good times, you don’t. it’s in bad times that people recognize the benefit of the cso [central selling organisation]. the past year fits anyone’s definition of “bad times.