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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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At Komara Jewelers in Canfield, Ohio, Wilkerson handled all the aspects of its retirement sale just as owner Bob Komara’s children took over day-to-day operations of the business. They’d used other companies before, says Brianna Komara-Pridon, but they didn’t compare. “If we had used Wilkerson then, it would have been so much better.”

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Jewelry Insurance Startup Firm Raises $2M

The founder is a third-generation jeweler.

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BriteCo, a jewelry-insurance startup company, announced a $2 million seed round.

The round’s investors include Brian Spaly, the founder of Trunk Club; and Jeff Taylor, the former chairman and CEO at Cole Taylor Bank.

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The firm provides verified appraisals and immediate replacement coverage by HDI global, an A-rated insurance carrier, according to a press release.

“As a third-generation jeweler, my family and I have a long history delighting customers and helping them celebrate moments of joy in their lives,” said Dustin Lemick, BriteCo founder and CEO.

“But the jewelry buyer is changing rapidly. Millennials now represent the largest jewelry buying demographic, and their expectations are different from those of prior generations. BriteCo helps jewelers by providing them with the optimal blend of online convenience and personal attention.”

Lemick and his family have owned and operated retail jewelry locations in the Chicagoland area for over 60 years.

BriteCo explains that its coverage has no deductible, automatically updates protection each year using advanced price analytics and predictive models, and offers a streamlined claims experience. It also “offers an easy to use, cloud-based Appraisal Management System (AMS) that is faster and more accurate than the jewelry industry’s traditional manual processes,” according to the release.

“What Dustin and his team have accomplished in such a short period of time is amazing,” said Jeff Taylor, one of the company’s investors. “Getting BriteCo licensed in virtually every state before officially launching is a testament to their hard work and the professionalism with which they’re approaching this big challenge.

“I’m excited to be a part of their push to modernize the jewelry insurance and appraisal process and to help millions of people across the US protect their most valuable possessions.”

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Fugitive Jeweler Arrested in $2B Fraud Case

India is seeking to extradite him.

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Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweler who’s suspected in a $2 billion fraud case in India, has been arrested in London, The Telegraph reports.

He was arrested on behalf of Indian authorities, and he appeared Westminster Magistrates’ Court to fight extradition to India, according to the newspaper.

In court, he “spoke only to confirm his details and to refuse to submit to extradition” related to embezzlement allegations, The Telegraph reports.

He’s due in court again on March 29.

Modi had been staying in a high-dollar apartment in London’s West End, according to the newspaper.

Last year, The New York Times described Modi as being “on the run” and noted that figuring out his location had become something of a “national pastime” in India.

He remained at-large despite Interpol’s issuance of a reed notice for his arrest in July, according to The Telegraph.

Modi is at the center of a fraud case involving Punjab National Bank, where employees are “suspected to have steered fraudulent loans” to Modi’s businesses, Reuters has reported.

Modi has apparently been involved in a new new diamond business in the UK, according to The Telegraph.

Read more at The Telegraph

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This 13-Carat Pink Diamond Just Sold for $8.7M+

The sale represents a dollar-per-carat price of $656,933.

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Gem Diamonds Ltd. announced that a 13.33 carat pink diamond recovered at the Letšeng mine in February has been sold for $8.75 million.

The sale represents a dollar-per-carat price of $656,933.

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That’s a record for a Letšeng diamond, according to a press release from Gem. The company owns both the Letšeng diamond mine in Lesotho and the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana.

The diamond sold on tender in Antwerp. Gem did not reveal the identity of the buyer.

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Yahoo Finance reports that Gem mined about 127,000 carats of diamonds last year.

That amounts to under 1 percent of the worldwide total, making the company a relatively small player compared to industry titans such as Alrosa and De Beers.

 

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