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Couple Close Jewelry Store After Decades in Business Because ‘When You’re Done, You’re Done’

It’s one of 63 jewelers reported in November as closed.

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AFTER 45 YEARS in the jewelry business, Larry Bramoweth woke up one Sunday morning, turned to his wife and said, “That’s it.”

“Oh, thank you for saying that,” replied Connie Bramoweth, a jeweler herself for the 35 years of their marriage. “I’ve been thinking the same thing for weeks.”

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The very next day, the “Closed” sign went up on the door of Bram’s Jewelry, a fixture for 20 years on tourist-packed Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, CA.

Brams is one of 63 jewelers reported in November as closed by the Jewelers Board of Trade, including six acquisitions and five consolidations.

Before they could even list their 1,750-square foot building for sale, the Bramoweths got a lease offer from a group that intends to turn the space into a microbrewery.

The process of getting the necessary permits and zoning approvals continues even now, but the decision to close the jewelry store was smooth sailing from the start.

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“Larry and I were in exactly the same place,” says Connie, even though neither had acknowledged it to the other until that fateful Sunday morning.

For awhile by then, Connie had been watching the crowds gather daily out on Palm Canyon Drive, thinking to herself, “Oh, please don’t come in.”

“It sounds crazy, I know,” she says now, “but when you’re done you’re done.”

Connie, at least, is not entirely done with jewelry. She continues to do the custom work that has long been her specialty. Her Miller welder continues to be her “favorite toy in all the world.”

As Christmas neared, Connie was happily baking and reading and finishing up a major project for a customer in St. Louis, where the Bramoweths had a store for 10 years before relocating to Palm Springs.

The transition into retirement has been a little less smooth for Larry, says his wife. “He knew what he didn’t want to do, but he didn’t know what he wanted to do. It’s still kind of a conundrum for him.”

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Connie was an antiques dealer when she met her husband, a jeweler who proceeded to teach her everything he could about the business.

He was the salesman of the couple, she says, which freed her to work at her bench in the back.

Praising the internet as “a wonderful tool,” Connie says that any jeweler’s survival today depends on building a strong online presence.

“And that’s not easy,” she says.

It’s also, she says, “not really me.” It’s custom design that interests her, the kind of projects where it might take three years to find the perfect opal. “Today, it’s all about instant gratification.”

While the internet can be of help in the design area as well, there are limits, she says. CAD “can produce some spectacularly beautiful pieces, but in my opinion, they can also be spectacularly boring.”

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“You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” she explains.

Connie urges business newcomers to become familiar with one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces typically found in estate sales. “Some of the older pieces, well, you’re never going to get that” from a software program.

“Learn everything you can,” she recommends. “And don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.”

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Headlines

Blue Nile CEO Departs

The company has named an interim chief.

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Blue Nile CEO Jason Goldberger has left the company, GeekWire reports.

There’s been little explanation for his departure just a year-and-a-half after joining the online diamond retailer.

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The company stated that he “moved on to pursue his next challenge.”

“We are continuing to invest behind our strategic priorities and new capabilities to accelerate growth,” Blue Nile continued in a statement.

Eric Anderson is serving as interim CEO.

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Before joining Blue Nile, Goldberger served as chief digital officer and president of Target.com. He previously held roles with Gilt Groupe, Hayneedle and Amazon.

Blue Nile officially become a private company in February. It had previously traded on the Nasdaq. The Seattle-based company was acquired by an investor group in a $500 million deal. The investor group is made up of funds managed by Bain Capital Private Equity and Bow Street LLC.

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852 US Jewelry Retailers Closed Their Doors in 2018

The number of closures is up from 2017’s figure.

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The Jewelers Board of Trade reports that 852 U.S. jewelry retailers stopped doing business in 2018.

That’s slightly more than the 817 businesses that closed in 2017.

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Of those, 706 fell into the category of “ceased operations,” while 122 were listed as “consolidations (sale/merger)” and 24 were classified as “bankruptcies.”

Meanwhile, 183 jewelry retail businesses opened their doors in the U.S. in 2018. That was up significantly from 131 in 2017.

Counting wholesalers and manufacturers along with retailers, 1,013 U.S. jewelry businesses closed their doors in 2018. That’s compared with 1,022 in 2017.

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The total number of jewelry retailers listed in the U.S. is now 18,974, compared with 19,823 at the end of 2017, according to the Jewelers Board of Trade.

The total number of jewelry businesses, including wholesalers and retailers, is 25,102, compared with 26,270 at the end of 2017.

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Newly Discovered Gemstone Is Harder Than Diamond

It’s been found on Earth for the first time.

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Shefa Yamim, a precious stone exploration company in Israel, has discovered a new mineral that is harder than diamond and which has never been found on Earth before.

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The material is called carmeltazite, and it was recently approved as a new mineral by the International Mineralogical Association Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification.

The mineral was named carmeltazite because of it its discovery on Mount Carmel and due to its major chemical components: titanium, aluminum and zirconium (“TAZ”), the company stated in a press release. Shefa Yamim trademarked the name “carmel sapphire” for the material.

The mineral “is a newly discovered type of corundum similar in appearance to the corundum, but unlike any other sapphire found in the world,” according to the company. The rough carmel sapphire is typically black, blue-to-green or orange-brown. The largest stone found is 33.3 carats.

The Vintage News reports that “it was previously believed that this type of mineral was only found on extraterrestrial material.”

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It’s harder than diamond and substantially rarer, “making its value extremely high,” according to the publication.

Avi Taub, CEO of Shefa Yamim, said in the release: “We are delighted that our Carmel Sapphire has been recognised as a host to many rare minerals. In today’s world where the prices of gems are determined predominantly by their rarity, the Carmel Sapphire is a unique discovery because it has not been found anywhere else in the world and was discovered by Shefa Yamim in the soil of the Holy Land. We believe this substantially increases the potential value of our ‘Gem Box’ of precious stones. The studies of Carmel Sapphire and its new minerals mark another milestone in the Company’s journey as we continue our progress towards trial mining in Zone 1 in 2019.”

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