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Italy’s VicenzaOro Officially Opens the 2019 Buying Season

Buyers from over 130 countries attended.

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Vendorafa Hula Hoop Collection                                                                    Monica Rich Kosann Locket Collection

WHILE MOST RETAIL JEWELERS around the world are still packing away their holiday decorations and going over their inventories, a city in northeast Italy (largely known outside of the jewelry world for its steel production, textile factories and agricultural impact) starts getting ready to welcome the jewelry industry’s elite brands, most successful retailers, and respected members of the international press. Vicenza, despite sometimes being confused by Americans with Venezia (Venice) and Valenza, Italy, is actually one of the country’s wealthiest cities. With a town center that reflects its Renaissance-era history, including 23 buildings designed by famed Italian architect Andrea Palladio, Vicenza offers much in the way of culture, food and sights, which are merely added bonuses for those who have traveled to see what the area has become known for: its jewelry.

Lydia Courtielle Nuevo-Mundo Piece

The January edition of the VicenzaOro Jewellery Boutique Show is the first major jewelry trade show of the year, every year. Buyers are treated to a visual smorgasbord that includes finished high jewelry, fashion jewelry, contemporary jewelry, loose diamonds and gems, watches, tools, mountings, findings and jewelry equipment. There are also numerous seminars, classes and panels covering topics from sustainable practices to buying trends to famous emeralds throughout history and  much more. On top of all of that, there are the small perks that often get overlooked at some of the other major trade fairs. Things like real Wi-Fi (are you listening to this, Baselworld?), nightly cocktail gatherings and a free playroom for children ages 3 and up. Many members of the press (including yours truly) are hosted guests of the show, meaning that our transportation, meals and museum tours (of which there are several) are taken care of, making our trip to the city even more enjoyable.

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January’s edition of the fair was made particularly exciting with the introduction of a handful of new exhibitors to the show’s “Design Room,” including American jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann, who showcased her popular locket collection, as well as Parisian designer Lydia Courteille, who brought along pieces from her Nuevo Mundo collection, which was inspired by her travels to Guatemala. Courteille uses a variety of brightly colored gemstones to replicate the embroidered fabric patterns of the Guatemalan culture in pieces like her Worry Doll ring, which was a show-stopping adornment that included a large, pear-shaped maxixe blue beryl. Also exhibiting at the fair was Italian brand Picchiotti, which recently hired Mark Mazzarese – former president of Mazzarese Fine Jewelry near Kansas City – to expand the reach of its U.S. sales team. And the always exciting Vendorafa went for a playful theme this year with pieces from its new Hula Hoop collection as well as editions to the Anaconda and Dune collections.

With buyers attending the fair from over 130 countries, including from the U.S. (shout out to Scott Saunders of London Jewelers, whom I briefly saw as we headed into the fair), there were not many sections of the show floor that weren’t – at times – jam-packed with people. Seminars were often standing-room only, and the multiple cafes throughout the show saw huge lines at lunch hour as well as at “Aperitivo time.” While that might seem nerve-wracking to some, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all good news for those of us in the business, because a busy show is a sign that the jewelry industry is alive, well and even possibly thriving.

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The VicenzaOro Jewellery Boutique Show does a lot of things the right way, and with some trade fairs suffering from recent exhibitor departures, negative reviews or just from bad choices and poor management, it’s a show that should be looked upon as a guide to what successful jewelry trade fairs could be if they just listened to the needs of their exhibitors and attendees. I mean, after all, isn’t that what everyone wants at the end of the day? Whether it’s a customer, a family member, or a co-worker … we really all just want to be heard.

The next edition of VicenzaOro in Vicenza, Italy, will be held Sept. 7-11.

Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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News Report Reveals Sordid Details of Alleged Sexual Harassment At Signet

It’s based on interviews with dozens of female former employees.

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A New York Times report reveals salacious details related to allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination within Signet’s Sterling Jewelers business.

The story, titled “The Company That Sells Love to America Had a Dark Secret,” is based on interviews with dozens of female former employees.

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Some of the employees described being repeatedly passed over for promotions in favor of men, according to the article by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Others said they’d been sexually harassed.

One woman told the writer that a district manager coerced her into sex in exchange for a transfer she wanted.

A rape accusation is also described.

INSTORE reported in March 2017 that about 250 former employees of Sterling, which operates Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Kay Jewelers and Zales, were alleging that the company culture was rife with sexual discrimination and harassment. The claims were part of an arbitration case that dates to 2008.

Litigation is still ongoing.

In response to the New York Times story, Signet released a statement saying: “We’re disappointed that The New York Times decided to publish an article primarily based on decades-old allegations, and we believe casts our company unfairly. Signet is a recognized leader among companies for gender diversity, with women making up 74 percent of store management positions and full gender parity in both the [senior executive suite] and board of directors. Under the leadership of our CEO Gina Drosos, we are undeterred in our ongoing mission to champion diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority and in our multi-year business transformation plan.”

Read more at The New York Times 

 

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Rooftop Burglars Take Everything from Jewelry Store

They even stole repair items.

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Burglars cut through the roof of a jewelry store in Laguna Niguel, CA, and took “all items in the store, including repair pieces,” the Jewelers’ Security Alliance reports.

KCAL-TV identfied the business as Nuggets and Carats Jewelry Store.

According to JSA, the burglars “cut through the roof, used a rope to lower themselves in, and cut into the safe.”

They also “removed another safe from the store, which was dragged out a back door into a parking lot.”

The crime took place on the evening of March 23.

JSA states that it has seen a nationwide uptick in the number of reports of burglaries involving rooftop entry or cutting through sidewalls, with some involving cutting alarm wires.

According to KCAL, store owner Brian Hassine said of the safe: “It’s a 6-inch deep safe. It’s got a plate on the outside that needed to be cut with some type of a laser or saw, and they had to cut away at the concrete, and then another plate they had to go through.”

Find out more at KCAL-TV

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100 US Jewelry Retailers Closed in the First Quarter

The rate of closings slowed considerably.

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The Jewelers Board of Trade reported that 100 U.S. jewelry retailers closed their doors in the first quarter of 2019.

That number represented a decrease from 282 closings in the first quarter of 2018.

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The total included 73 retailers in the category of “ceased operations” as well as 22 “consolidations (sale/merger)” and five bankruptcies.

The total number of U.S. jewelry businesses that closed, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, was 125. That was a decrease from 343 in the first quarter of 2018.

Meanwhile, JBT reported that 48 new retailers opened their doors in the U.S., up from 45 in the first quarter of 2018.

The total number of new jewelry businesses, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, was 57. That was down from 62 new businesses in the year-ago quarter.

JBT listed a total of 18,920 jewelry retailers in the U.S. as of the first quarter of 2019, down from 19,554 in the same quarter a year ago.

The group listed 25,037 jewelry businesses in all, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. That was down from 25,898 in the first quarter of 2018.

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