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2018 Holiday Season So Far: Not Bad, Just Not Terrific

Many say the season is still in line with their expectations.

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INDEPENDENT JEWELERS moderated their view of the 2018 holiday season in the last week, with more describing it as disappointing but fewer also saying it was either dismal or terrific. About one in three said it was still in line with their expectations.

HOW DO YOU RATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON SO FAR?

Jewelers had gone into the season with high hopes — our Jewelers Confidence Index reached a year’s high at the beginning of November — but with just over a week to go until Christmas Day, the most common description of the season was that it had failed to live up to its billing.

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“Analysts were predicting a better holiday season this year than last. But sales are about the same, which is disappointing because we were expecting higher growth,” said Lyla Ismael of Lyla Jewelers, in Oak Lawn, IL.

Respondents blamed their slightly subdued sales so far on the stock market slump, politics, the prolonged holiday season following an early Thanksgiving, increased online competition, and the weather among other factors. Several admitted to being slightly bewildered by how things were turning out.

HOW IS THE CUSTOMER TRAFFIC COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

“Just surprised after a strong November that December could be so soft,” said Tom Duma, owner of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, OH. “Not sure if it’s because of the General Motors closing plant announcement or Trump and his antics with a government shutdown, China trade deal, or the volatility in the stock market. I had high hopes for December but after 16 days I don’t see it coming back,” he said.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR AVERAGE SALE SO FAR FOR THIS HOLIDAY PERIOD

Average ticket continued to be strong for most jewelers, with 35 percent of the survey respondents saying it was above $500 and 36 percent saying it was up over last year’s average sale.

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Indeed, it was the loss of smaller ticket items that seemed to be hurting jewelers the most.

“Love those large-ticket items but I am really missing the $500-800 bread-and-butter items we have grown to expect to leave in droves. I hope I am proven wrong over the coming week,” said Denise Oros, owner of Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL.

David Abrams, of Grand Jewelers in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, said he believes the “$500 and under sales have migrated to the web,” suggesting jewelers face a tough time in winning them back.

HOW IS YOUR AVERAGE TICKET COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

To be sure, the overall picture was not gloomy. Many jewelers reported strong sales and healthy margins and many were still hopeful there would be a late surge of buyers. More also seem to be realizing they need to tweak the way they do business in 2018.

“The dollars come later and later every year,” said Dennis Petimezas, of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA. “I finally got smart and reversed November/December marketing dollars. Majority advertising in December, minority in November. Sent ‘Free’ money ($50 and $100 bill images incorporated in body of letter) to be used as actual money in any way on merchandise in store to our top customers. It’s working!”

Our third 2018 holiday season was sent to INSTORE’s Brain Squad on Monday morning and answered by more than 135 jewelers across the country.

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Chris Burslem is Group Managing Editor at SmartWork Media.

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Failed Fashion Jewelry Chain Is Coming Back

It will operate primarily as an online brand.

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Jewelry and accessories retailer Charming Charlie may have gone bankrupt and closed its 261 stores, but you can expect to see the brand resurface in coming months.

Charlie Chanaratsopon, founder of the company, is acquiring its trademarks, internet properties and other intellectual property for about $1.23 million, the Houston Chronicle reports. He was approved to buy the assets following a bankruptcy auction.

He plans to revive Charming Charlie as primarily an online brand. It will have only a few permanent brick-and-mortar stores, which will open early next year.

The company’s main advantage is its 10-million-strong customer base, said Chanaratsopon, former CEO of Charming Charlie.

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“In this age of retail, we still see an opportunity for the brand to thrive in the online ecosystem,” he said, according to the Chronicle.

The company said in July that it was closing all of its stores in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed July 11.

Read more at the the Houston Chronicle

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Online Jewelry Brand Raises $6.2M in Funding

Ross-Simons has taken a majority stake.

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CRANSTON, RI — Luca + Danni Inc., a online jewelry brand based in Rhode Island, has closed on $6.2 million in funding, with Ross-Simons Inc. becaming the majority investor in the deal.

PJC, a Boston-based VC Fund and early investor in Luca + Danni, will retain a stake in the company.

The investments “create a powerful partnership between an iconic jewelry company and three-year-old digital brand,” according to a Luca + Danni press release.

Fred Magnanimi, founder of Luca + Danni, will remain as CEO and board member.

“I started this brand to honor my family’s 50+ year heritage in US made handcrafted jewelry and help others embrace the journey of life as I learned to do after losing my brother to leukemia,” said Magnanimi. “With the amazing resources and strategic support of Ross-Simons and PJC, I am confident we will help millions embrace their own journey and continue to build our community.”

Ross-Simons, also based in Rhode Island, has a long history in retail and direct-to-consumer jewelry sales.

“Luca + Danni is a digitally native brand rapidly taking market share in the jewelry space,” said Jim Speltz, president of Ross-Simons. “Our resources, product expertise, and go-to-market experience matched with Luca + Danni’s powerful brand will foster meaningful growth in the evolving e-commerce world.”

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She Woke Up Without Her Engagement Ring. Guess Where Doctors Found It …

It all started with a dream. (Story with video.)

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A San Diego woman woke up without her engagement ring, and she immediately remembered a dream she’d had the night before.

One where she’d swallowed her engagement ring.

Jenna Evans immediately told her fiance, Bob Howell, and they headed to urgent care. She told the story in a Facebook post that has gone viral, garnering 62,000 shares as of Sept. 16.

She ended up seeing a gastroenterologist, who performed an upper endoscopy.

“Everything went great, they found my ring just beyond my stomach in my intestines, retrieved it and gave it to Bobby, not me,” she wrote.

She also divulged a bit about the dream that got her into the predicament.

“I was having a dream that Bobby and I were in a very sketchy situation involving a high speed train and bad guys (I have very exciting and vivid dreams) and he told me I had to swallow my ring to protect it; so I popped that sucker off, put it in my mouth and swallowed it with a glass of water riiiight about the time I realized what I was doing,” she explained. “I assumed this too was a dream, because WHO ACTUALLY SWALLOWS THEIR ENGAGEMENT RING, so I went back to sleep.”

The ring was made by Simone Jewelry Designs in Houston. CBS8 reports that it includes a 2.4 carat diamond.

Watch a news video about the incident:

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