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Beyond the Wow! Humanized High Tech at JCK Las Vegas

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Technology vendors are ubiquitous at retail trade shows, but the presentation at JCK Las Vegas was anything but common. Top tech vendors were gathered together in the Plumb Club’s new Retail Innovation and Education Center and in the Retail Innovation area (downstairs at JCK) to introduce and demonstrate new ways to interact with customers.

Visitors entered via the Planetarium that rocketed attendees from the typical trade show environment into a new, imaginative realm that was truly stellar. The “Radiant Universe” collection of “celestial jewelry” was projected on the purpose-built planetarium dome in a way that made the idea of innovation real and intriguing.

Once inside the exhibit space, you could explore jewelry designs, resources, and find educational offerings. With technology permeating every aspect of retail, JCK offered a variety of innovations to service, support, close sales and stay connected, with customers in and out of the store. A key theme was the human side of the Internet of Things (IoT), tagging and tracking, “smart” fixtures, and other technology. You could meet IBM’s Watson Robot named “Pepper,” and interact with GemFind’s jewelry design platform.

PM Screen a dramatic example of in-store multimedia innovations. Their holographic diamond-cutting video was fascinating—just imagine what you could float in your window at night! Immersive, high-touch technology like this is what is fueling interpersonal engagement and facilitates relationships that transcend transactions.

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Converge Retail harnesses the mobile and multimedia trend with a simulated jewelry showcase you can explore on your iPad or tablet. In a time when retailing includes “tap, touch and blink,” customers can use this technology to zoom in on product details and information. It works seamlessly with the human element, with the sales associate concentrating on the customer experience of examining pieces of interest, trying them on, and ultimately buying.

The award-winning company JGA has made its mark integrating technology into retail environments to create dynamic, interactive collaboration with customers and high-end jewelry retailers. They understand the dynamics of shopping (exploring, experimenting, and learning) versus buying (the process of locating and purchasing a product already wanted with the intent to purchase), and the importance of an engaging experience throughout. You can see their strategies at work at James Allen, James Avery and the newly designed Spense diamonds presentation. Learn about other categories from JGA at jga.com.

AUGMENTes puts augmented reality to work for retailers that want to give their customers the ability to virtually try on your jewelry in their own environments on themselves. A customer can, for example, use their cell phone to take a picture of their hand, then through AUGMENTes technology, see how rings and bracelets might look on themselves. For customers looking for something personal, the AUGMENTes visualization capabilities are built into its bracelet builder tool, allowing the user to interactively build their own bracelet. In addition to product visualization and personalization tools, AUGMENTes provides fully customized mobile applications and comprehensive omni-channel shopping platforms with a complete managed service. Shoppers can select materials and position components, then place the order. The visualization tool can also be used to design necklaces, watches, rings, and more.

Leaving the main pavilion, but adjacent to the Plumb Club were some of the up-and-comers in the retail technology space:

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Glass-Media Inc. transforms physical locations with digital activations that create dynamic environments that capture attention, entertain, and create a memorable brand experience. I was intrigued with the window they created for Fossil’s smartwatch with faces that change to demonstrate Glass Media capabilities. The company brings together the online and the physical for a compelling integrated channel retail experience.

HERO is a platform for connecting online shoppers with live sales associates in your stores. The technology is in the background as your brand connects with customer, and as sales associates guide customers along the purchasing journey, no matter where they might physically be. If you have heard of the “BAGA” trend—Buy Anywhere Get Anywhere—this technology helps you build relationships across any channel.

JCK Las Vegas presented technology and tech-driven trends that are much in the headlines in a dramatic and engaging way. But beyond the “wow,” exhibitors provided a practical and very human angle with the potential to impact bottom lines.

 

Pam Levine, president of Levine Luxury Branding, is an expert at harnessing the senses and the emotionally complex — often silent — drivers of purchase decisions in stores and online. Contact her at Pam@levineluxurybranding.com

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Coin Found in a Field Sells for $695,000

It was discovered by a metal detectorist.

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A rare Roman gold coin dating from AD 293-296 sold for about $695,000 at an auction held by Dix Noonan Webb, the London-based international coin, medal, banknote and jewelry specialists.

The coin, found in a newly plowed field in Kent, England, had been estimated to fetch between $88,000 and $125,000.

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It was bought by private collector bidding on the telephone.

The coin, known as an aureus — a gold coin of ancient Rome — is relatively small: only 4.31 grams and slightly larger than a current penny. Dating from the reign of Allectus, it was found by a 30-year-old metal detectorist and his brother near Dover in March this year, adjacent to a Roman road.

The detectorist, who has followed the pursuit for seven years, wishes to remain anonymous but commented after the sale: “I cannot believe it, we are ecstatic! We expected it to sell for a little over estimate, but not five times the estimate! We are sharing the money with the farmer, who is also thrilled!”

Christopher Webb, director and head of DNW’s coin department, said: “I am delighted with the phenomenal price achieved in today’s sale. This is the most expensive coin that we have ever sold at Dix Noonan Webb – as well as being one of the world’s most expensive Roman coins, it is the most money ever paid for a coin of Allectus and it is now the most valuable Roman coin minted in Britain to have been sold at auction. It was a unique opportunity to acquire a stunning coin and the only other one known struck from the same pair of dies is in the British Museum.”

He continued: “There are only 24 aurei of Allectus known worldwide. Gold coins were initially produced to pay an accession donation in AD 293 but continued to be issued throughout his reign and were probably demonetized after his death in AD 296, as no coins of Carausius or Allectus are found in later hoards.”

Allectus is described as the minister of finance, praetorian prefect, ally and co-conspirator under the usurper Carausius. This new independence of Britain was based on a strong naval force of at least two fleets controlling the English Channel and the North Sea.

As a result of the loss of Boulogne in Gaul on 1 March AD 293 to the emperor Constantius Chlorus, it is believed that Carausius was then murdered by Allectus. Little is known from historical records about Allectus; his name in Latin translates as chosen or elected, but his well-produced coinage indicates a smooth transition and the issue of a new denomination, decorated with a series of war galleys as the reverse design which was seen as innovative.

In early AD 296 Constantius, together with the praetorian prefect Julius Asclepiodotus, sailed in two separate fleets, one from Boulogne, the other from the mouth of the Seine, which slipped past the Allectan ships waiting by the Isle of Wight (Vectis) in a sea fog. Allectus was defeated and killed in a land battle, probably in Hampshire, by Asclepiodotus, and Constantius arrived in London to reclaim Britain.

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Retail Giant Begins Selling Bridal Jewelry

It’s being sold at SamsClub.com.

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Sam’s Club has added bridal pieces to its jewelry offerings.

Its new S Collection rings range in price from $3,000 to $6,000, according to a blog post on the retail giant’s website.

The center stones come with International Gemological Institute appraisals.

The S Collection, available only at SamsClub.com, is the retailer’s in-house collection. It also includes other pieces, including earrings and bracelets.

Most of the bridal rings are available in white, yellow and rose gold options. They’re shipped within five days of being ordered.

The company notes that jewelry, ranging from solitaire rings and wedding bands to gemstones and pearls, is also available at Sam’s Club locations.

“You can even work with our associates to have a custom engagement ring created to match your style and budget,” the blog post states.

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100-Year Anniversary of ‘Most Iconic’ Diamond Cut Celebrated

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It maximizes fire, brilliance and sparkle.

Exactly 100 years ago, a 19-year-old Antwerp engineer named Marcel Tolkowsky perfected a mathematical formula for the 57-facet “brilliant-cut” diamond. Tolkowsky’s accomplishment prevails as the most iconic and successful cut in history due to its ability to maximize a diamond’s fire, brilliance and sparkle.

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre recently held a street fair and ceremonial diamond cutting to honor Tolkowsky and the 100th anniversary.

“In 1919, my uncle Marcel unlocked the secret of light within a diamond,” said Gabi Tolkowsky, one of the world’s most renowned diamond cutters. “He figured out how to get the greatest amount of light to shine out of a diamond, calculating the number and arrangement of facets to maximize the light return. This was Marcel’s gift to the world, perfecting the journey of light, giving all those who came after him the knowledge of how to turn a diamond into a unique beauty.”

Marcel Tolkowsky proved that if a diamond was cut too deep or too shallow, the light coming down from the top would escape out the sides or bottom, resulting in a loss of brilliance. His solution: 57 precisely placed facets cut to exacting proportions so the light coming into a diamond is refracted up through the table and crown to the viewer’s eye.

During the celebration, the AWDC launched its unique “100 Years Brilliant” project, during which 57 well-know (and lesser known) Antwerp residents were invited to polish a single diamond — one person for each facet of a brilliant.

“In this way, ‘t Steentje – which is how the diamond industry is referred to in the local vernacular – will represent the multicultural character and diversity of the Antwerp diamond industry,” explained AWDC CEO Ari Epstein.

Once the stone is finished, it will be exhibited in Antwerp’s DIVA diamond museum.

The first facet was polished by guest of honor Gabi Tolkowsky, who famously spent three years cutting the 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond.

The second facet of the stone was polished by Constantinus ‘Stan’ Hunselmans, who shares his birth year with the brilliant.

“I celebrated my 100th birthday on January 14, and it is an honor that I was chosen,” Hunselmans said. “It went really well. If I were a little bit younger, I might have considered a career switch.”

Since 1447, Antwerp has laid claim to the title of the “World’s Diamond Capital.” It should come as no surprise that Tolkowsky’s brilliant cut was developed in this city.

Credit: Image courtesy of Petragems [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Diamond proportions graphics by Jasper Paulsen CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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