FRESH INDUSTRY NEWS AND PRESS RELEASES

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Ryan Berg Named JA Board Chairman

(Press Release) Jewelers of America has elected Ryan Berg, Market President of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in San Antonio, TX, as JA’s new Board Chairman. He succeeds Bill Farmer Jr., Partner of Farmer’s Jewelry. Berg was elected on July 25, 2015 at JA’s Board meeting that also welcomed many new Directors.

“Ryan has the right combination of experience that will make him an effective Board Chairman. Like so many others in the jewelry industry, Ryan is helping his family-run jewelry business adapt, grow and evolve. He brings a fresh perspective that focuses on growing Jewelers of America and all of our members’ stores’ bottom line. It is an honor to have him lead our Board of Directors during his term as Jewelers of America Board Chairman,” says JA President & CEO David J. Bonaparte.

Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry was founded by Ryan’s father, Lee Michael Berg, in 1978 in Baton Rouge, LA. During its 35 years in business, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry expanded to eight stores in six markets in three states.

Berg’s active involvement in his community reinforces his company’s culture of giving back, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement of San Antonio, the Advisory Board of the San Antonio Junior League, member of the Downtown San Antonio Rotary, as a trustee for the Witte Museum of Natural History, on the board of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), and as a member of FBI Citizens Organization.

Ryan’s engagement in a in numerous jewelry industry organizations further demonstrates his enthusiasm for creating and sustaining positive change. He served as President of the Jewelers of Louisiana, was a member of the Board of Directors for Jewelry Information Center and was on the Jewelers Advisory Committee for Jewelers Mutual Insurance.

“My years of service on the Jewelers of America Board of Directors has given me deep insight to the value that Jewelers of America provides. JA is poised to deliver tremendous value to its members and the industry at large. I look forward to working more closely with the Board of Directors and Dave Bonaparte, President & CEO, as we continue to transform Jewelers of America and create a meaningful impact on the jewelry industry’s business outcomes,” says Berg.
As Chairman, Berg will lead an Executive Committee of the following elected officers: Chair-Elect – John Henne, Henne Jewelers; Vice Chair – Mark Light, Sterling Jewelers; Vice Chair – Holly Wesche, Wesche Jewelers; Treasurer – Coleman Clark, B.C. Clark Jewelers; Secretary – Cathy Tivol, Tivol, Inc.

The following directors will begin terms on the board:

Efraim Grinberg is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Movado Group, Inc. (MGI), the world-renowned watch company. Named President and Chief Operating Officer in 1990, Effraim oversaw the company’s initial public offering in 1993. Since that time, he has been responsible for building MGI into a global enterprise. Movado’s commitment to the arts is intrinsic to the brand’s identity. Effraim maintains active affiliations with numerous arts organizations including serving on the Board of Directors of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He also serves on the Board of Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

Simon Katz is owner of Simons Jewelers in St. Louis, MO. Founded in 1976, Simons Jewelers specializes in designer jewelry, diamonds, precious gems and fine watches. Katz is actively involved in his community, and supports numerous local charities. Katz's business philosophy is simple: Treat people with respect, provide excellent value, and never compromise on service.

Joe Molfese is owner of Bella Cosa Jewelers in Willowbrook, IL. Joseph, along with his wife Amy, started Bella Cosa Jewelers in December of 2000. After eight years, the store doubled in size and added a state of the art custom design department. Joseph is a Graduate Gemologist (Gemological Institute of America). Some of Joseph’s specialties include estate jewelry, importing and fancy colored diamonds.

Matthew Rosenheim is the President of Tiny Jewel Box. As the man who oversees the day-to-day operations of Tiny Jewel Box as well as maintains the store's legacy, Matthew has helped his family grow a three-generation business into an iconic Washington D.C. institution and internationally renowned jeweler. Matthew graduated from Syracuse University and earned a Graduate Gemologist degree (Gemological Institute of America). Matthew is a founding member and serves on the Executive Board for Gen-Next Jewelers and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization.

Craig Rottenberg is a fourth generation jeweler and current President of his family’s business, Long’s Jewelers, which was established in 1878. Rottenberg grew up working in the jewelry industry after his family purchased the store in 1991. After earning his MBA and spending over a decade in the financial industry, Rottenberg rejoined Long’s Jewelers as President in 2004. Today, the store serves Massachusetts with five locations. He currently sits on the Centurion Retail Advisory Board and he is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, New England Chapter.

Fred Weber began his career in the jewelry industry in 1955 before opening Weber Jewelers in Dayton, OH in the early 1970’s. A certified gemologist appraiser, Fred earned a degree in Business Administration at The Ohio State University. He has served the community in many ways including as Dayton City Commissioner and Chairman of Wright State University's Board of Trustee. Fred serves on the board the American Gem Society Laboratories as well as the International Diamond Grading Organization. In 2012, Fred earned the Robert M. Shipley award, the American Gem Society's highest distinction.

In addition to Bill Farmer, Jr., outgoing directors include: Jeff Hamra, Hamra Jewelers and Jim Rosenheim, Tiny Jewel Box.
For the complete list of JA’s 2015-2016 Board of Directors, visit www.jewelers.org/aboutJA/board.html.

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Jewelers Mutual Again Named Top-Performing Insurance Company

(Press Release) Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has been named to the 2015 list of Ward's 50 top performing insurance companies for the fifth consecutive year.

The award recognizes outstanding financial results in the areas of safety, consistency and performance over a five year period from 2010-2014.

"Ward's 50 is an incredible industry benchmark, and it's a tremendous achievement for Jewelers Mutual to be named to this highly competitive list for five consecutive years," said President and CEO Scott Murphy. "As our company continues to grow and expand, we look forward to building on this success."

The list of Ward's 50 top performing insurance companies was released last week by Ward Group, an Aon Hewitt company and the leading provider of operational and compensation benchmarking and best practices services for insurance companies. Aon Hewitt is the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc.

To develop its annual list of the top 50 performing insurance companies, Ward Group analyzes the financial performance of nearly 3,000 property-casualty insurance companies and 800 life-health insurance companies domiciled in the United States and identifies the top performers in each segment based on objective data and subjective quality measures. Each company has passed all safety and consistency screens and achieved superior performance over the five years analyzed.

This is the 25th consecutive year Ward Group has conducted the analysis.

The Ward's 50 property-casualty group of insurance companies produced a 10.9-percent statutory return on average equity from 2010 to 2014 compared to 7.8 increase for the property-casualty industry overall.

"Most insurers saw improvements in overall premium levels, however, these premium gains were tempered by slightly lower financial returns," explained Jeff Rieder, partner and head of Ward Group.

"Our research finds that companies are cautiously optimistic about continued growth in revenue in 2015 but they responded that maintaining profitability is becoming more difficult. Growth in technology and business analytics investments are at the highest levels we have ever measured. While companies expect to achieve efficiency gains and improvements in customer satisfaction from these investments, the costs may negatively impact expense ratios.

“Fortunately, total policyholder surplus continues to grow and overall financial stability for the industry remains very strong. In selecting the Ward's 50, we identified companies that pass financial stability requirements and measure their ability to grow while maintaining strong capital positions and underwriting results."

Property-casualty insurance companies are evaluated and must pass minimum thresholds to be considered for the Ward's 50 designation. Each company must pass primary safety and consistency tests, including:

  • Surplus and premiums of at least $50 million for each of the five years analyzed
  • Net income in at least four of the last five years
  • Compound annual growth in premiums between -10 percent and +40 percent

Companies that pass the safety and consistency tests are measured and scored on the following elements:

  • Five Year Average Return on Average Equity
  • Five Year Average Return on Average Assets
  • Five Year Average Return on Total Revenue
  • Five Year Growth in Revenue
  • Five Year Improvement in Surplus to Written Premium
  • Five Year Average Combined Ratio

An important objective of the Ward's 50 is to compare their performance as a group with the rest of the industry. In addition to achieving greater levels of income returns, the Ward's 50 benchmarks also outperformed in other key performance benchmarks. The Ward's 50 property-casualty group compared 6.8 points lower for the five-year combined ratio (94.5 percent compared to 101.3 percent) and grew policyholder surplus by 30.2 percent compared to 21.9% for the industry since 2010.

Net premiums written for the Ward's 50 property-casualty group grew 28.5 percent compared to the industry's 18.4% growth.

A complete list of the 2015 Ward's 50 companies for property-casualty are located at WardInc.com.

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Drukker Designs Fine Gemstone Jewelry Relaunches Brand in the Nation’s Capital

(Press Release) Drukker Designs, the District’s newest gemstone jewelry experts, relaunched its brand on June 17.

Elena Drukker, designer of Drukker Designs, began more than twenty years ago in a firehouse garage in Moscow, as she and her spouse launched their own business of manufacturing and marketing gemstones to jewelers.

However Elena’s passion for handcrafted gemstone jewelry drove her to create her own line of fine jewelry. She now designs fine gemstone jewelry on both sides of the Atlantic.

Elena Drukker and her team create unique designs utilizing world-renowned classical jewelry-making techniques dating back to the time of Fabergé.

Elena believes that each of her handcrafted pieces can be defined by color and shape. She has personally designed over 2,500 unique pieces and continues to launch new designs each month.

To learn more visit Drukker.com.

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WFDB President Ernie Blom Praises New ISO Standard

(Press Release) World Federation of Diamond Bourses President Ernie Blom has praised the release of ISO International Standard 18323: “Jewelry - Consumer confidence in the diamond industry.”

Providing a series of definitions which aim to provide further clarity for traders and to maintain consumer confidence in the diamond industry as a whole, the WFDB was involved in formulating them, said Blom.

The ISO ruling defines a diamond as something that was "created by nature"; it also says that "the denomination 'diamond' without further specification always implies 'natural diamond.’"

"The importance of this standard lies in the fact that it sets out which nomenclature can be used and which cannot in the purchase and sale of diamonds, treated diamonds and synthetic diamonds," Blom said.

"As ISO says: 'ISO 18323:2015 will cover the nomenclature to be used by those involved in the buying and selling of diamonds, treated diamonds, synthetic diamonds, composite diamonds and imitations of diamonds.'

ISO notes very clearly the issues that the WFDB has been emphasizing for some time: the need for integrity and transparency to ensure that consumers have total confidence in our products. Buyers do not usually have the technical knowledge to understand the many aspects of diamonds and so they are reliant on correct and honest labeling.

"Regarding synthetic diamonds, which is a critical issue for the diamond business, the ISO standard sets out descriptions for synthetic diamonds plainly and precisely. It points out the growth in production in recent years, and that lab-grown diamonds have essentially the same chemical and physical (including optical) properties as a natural, mined diamond. We have long pointed out the importance of consumers knowing exactly what type of diamond is being offered to them, and this new standard confirms this."

"I would highly recommend that diamond industry members view information regarding the new ISO standard."

The web site address is https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:18323:ed-1:v1:en.

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IJM/Morris & David Joins GemFind’s JewelCloud

(Press Release) Leading jewelry industry technology provider GemFind has announced that New York-based IJM/Morris & David is the latest vendor to add their products to the industry’s fastest growing social product network, JewelCloud.

IJM’s designs join more than 100,000 products from hundreds of the most trusted vendors in the industry including Tacori, Simon G. and Gem Platinum and many others. GemFind is proud to feature IJM’s vast variety of different categories and price points along with their trademarked designer label Morris & David.

JewelCloud is part of an innovative lineup of tools including Diamond Link, Ring Builder, Stud Builder, Pendant Builder and Retail Locator.

Visit gemfind.com for more information on JewelCloud and morrisdavid.com for more information about IJM/Morris & David.

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