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Eileen McClelland

First JA Convention Tackles Weighty Issues

Focus of July event is on education and technology.

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JEWELRY RETAILERS, DESIGNERS and manufacturers looking for answers to burning questions about the state of the industry might do well to attend Jewelers of America’s first national convention, July 28-29 at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City.

Organizers have created an educational lineup with unique content as well as hands-on technological help. The event is also timed to coincide with Women’s Jewelry Association Awards for Excellence, July 29, and American Gem Society Circle of Distinction dinner, July 30.

“It’s designed to be a really focused, two-day, high-level educational forum for our members and potential members,” says David Bonaparte, president and CEO of Jewelers of America.

So if, for example, you’ve been lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering what to do about lab-grown diamonds that may infiltrate your inventory, visiting the Diamond Detection Lab during the Jewelers of America National Convention may ease your insomnia by demonstrating a variety of state-of-the-art solutions.

“With so much news and focus on lab-grown diamonds, with new technologies overseas and the ability for manufacturers to produce everything from man-made melee up to a carat and over, we’re seeing that there are issues of detection that present a real need in the industry,” says David Bonaparte.

“The worry is that some goods would pass through labs and go undetected.”

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Over the years, however GIA, DeBeers and others have begun to produce ever more sophisticated desktop equipment that makes sending every diamond or potential diamond to an external lab unnecessary.

“There are now devices you can acquire and use to make sure that what you are buying is what the seller says it is,” Bonaparte says. “It’s a great way to see what’s the latest and greatest out there.” The goal of the Diamond Detection Lab is to introduce retailers and diamond dealers to the equipment that is available to them in a simple, user-friendly way.

JA has also curated a group of technology providers in a casual, interactive environment for a Retail Innovation Lab that includes a wide variety of tech options. “I think the most important issues are inventory management and omni-channel selling, so you don’t have your capital just sitting in a case,” Bonaparte says. “Inventory management is always a huge challenge for retailers, especially for the mom and pop retailer; and our demographic is 92 percent single store mom and pop retailers.”

Beyond technology, high-level discussions are planned on geopolitical finance, macroeconomics and legislative action.

“We have Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report who is a one of the leading pollsters in the country who will talk about politics and what the election will mean to businesses,” Bonaparte says. “We also have the U.S. State Department coming to talk about the Kimberley process and responsible sourcing. It’s really unique content that we’re hoping is appealing not only to retailers but to manufacturers as well.”

Another unique aspect of the convention is that attendees won’t be distracted by making appointments with vendors between seminars. “There are great events out there, and they deliver a lot of content and value, but there are really not that many that don’t have a show attached to them,” Bonaparte says.

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Retail Innovation Lab exhibitors include:

  • Abbott Jewelry Systems produces a comprehensive software solution to manage retail jewelry stores called the Edge.
  • Buyers Intelligence Group™ designs solutions for merchandising challenges facing retail jewelers and manufacturers. BIG’s online platform provides data analysis tools to help clients understand their business and strategically plan their profitability.
  • Fire Polish Diamonds has developed The Fire Polish cutting technique, which is protected by five U.S. and international patents. By cutting Nano Prisms™ (diffraction gratings) on the pavilion of a diamond, Fire Polish is able to increase the dispersion and scintillation of any diamond without affecting the diamond’s cut or brilliance.
  • GPShopper is a mobile app developer for retailers, empowering brands to improve the customer shopping experience through multiple touch points. Synchrony acquired GPShopper in 2017 to create new mobile solutions for its retail partners.
  • JewelTrace by Spacecode is an RFID-powered data analytics and inventory management solution for jewelers.
  • Podium is a rich communication platform for local businesses. It’s the simplest way to collect reviews, get found online, and talk to customers in real-time through text.
  • Outernets converts static walls, glass and displays into interactive, customizable digital experiences.
  • Smart Age Solutions is a digital marketing agency specializing in the fine jewelry industry partnered with Review Alert. Smart Age Solutions also advises, conducts webinars, and provides unpublished data from Google for its clients.
  • Virtual Diamond Boutique is an interactive app platform to source a diverse global inventory of diamonds, colored gemstones, jewelry and lab-grown diamonds. It’s designed to be easy to use on a desktop or on any mobile device.

For more information, visit here.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Eileen McClelland

Gemfind’s Data Mining Has Potential to Predict the Future

New subscription service available for trend forecasting.

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EVERY TIME CONSUMERS click on a piece of jewelry on a retailers’ website, they leave tantalizing clues behind about shopping trends that have the potential to predict the future.

Alex Fetanat, CEO of GemFind Digital Solutions, has found that because of the digital services the company provides, particularly website management, diamond sourcing apps and e-commerce functions, they have access to a rich source of data. The company, which connects 400 retail jewelry clients with 124 jewelry manufacturers and 60 to 70 diamond suppliers, is able to track hundreds of thousands of consumer clicks each month.

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“We generate reports based on historical searches and clicks on every website we manage,” Fetanat says.

That data can determine what’s trending and what people are searching for in terms of diamond size, cut and clarity. And because the search for a diamond engagement ring typically takes 30 to 90 days, the data can be used to predict shopping trends. It can also be focused on a specific geographic area.

Generating reports based on that consumer data is a new service that Gemfind is offering in the form of a subscription service as well as an in-depth analysis.

Fetanat says the service can be invaluable to diamond cutters and sightholders as well as retailers. “If they see what consumers are searching for and clicking on they will be able to better curate a list of what’s needed in the market rather than just randomly buying things. When you know what consumers are searching for, you can better stock inventory and grow sales through effective target marketing.”

For example, a semi-annual report published recently by Gemfind reveals that:

  • Forty percent of diamond searches are for VS1 and VS2 clarity. This may indicate that few consumers understand that an SI 1 or even an SI2 can be just as beautiful and brilliant as a VS diamond, indicating an opportunity for education on the retail level.
  • Most popular color search is G, followed by H and F. The predominance of the G-H color range shows that consumers understand diamond color and pricing for those colors in comparison with the DEF range, which is a function more of rarity than beauty.
  • Most popular diamond carat weight is 1 carat to 1.25 carats; .75 to 1 carat make up the majority of the remaining consumer searches.
  • Searches for round diamonds continue to dominate the market, but ovals have been increasingly popular, overtaking both cushion and princess for second place. Square cuts, representing cushion, princess and Asscher each represent about a fifth of consumer diamond searches.
  • Most consumers do not search for diamond cut grade, but of those who do search for cut the excellent cut grade predominate. Because excellent cuts are expensive and rare, consumers are unnecessarily constricting their search in this area. That indicates the consumer needs additional education on cut grade.
  • Consumers searching for loose diamonds tend to focus their search in February and March, which covers both Valentine’s Day and spring proposals.
  • Overall, consumer knowledge of GIA and other diamond grading laboratories is very limited. But those who do search for certificates understand the value a GIA certificate gives a diamond while having little to no knowledge of other labs.

To receive a trends report each quarter, visit www.gemfind.com/trends-report; for more information, call (949) 752-7710. To order a copy of the full report, visit https://info.gemfind.com/gemfind-diamond-consumer-trends-report-2019-0.

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Eileen McClelland

Longtime Jeweler Eases Into Retirement but Still Loves ‘Placing Beautiful Things With the Right People’

Jo Rosenblum King prepares to auction a treasured collection.

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Jo’s parents, Earle and Isobel and Jo Rosenblum King

JO ROSENBLUM KING is one of the first jewelers I got to know after I joined INSTORE in 2007. I met her at the Houston Jewelers Breakfast, a group that generously took me under their wing, and she helped me embark on assembling a fine jewelry wardrobe by selling me my first strand of pearls, which, true to her clienteling super powers, she remembers 12 years later.

Jo and her local “competitors” taught me that jewelers who cooperate can learn a great deal from each other. It was inspiring to see that collaboration in action as they traded advice, jokes and gems over waffles or scrambled eggs at the crack of dawn. It helped me understand, too, how INSTORE was a type of jewelers’ breakfast for retailers who might otherwise feel isolated.

Jo told me this week that although she did more or less retire a few years ago, she still has jewelry in her vault that she plans to auction. She wants to get the word out about that, because she wants each cherished piece to find the right home.

Since she joined her family’s business as an adult, her favorite part of selling jewelry was placing her favorite pieces in nice homes. “I began to feel like an adoption agency,” she says. She made sure they were presented in the best light possible, too, once packaging a charm bracelet of baby shoes (one for each of seven children) in a doll house. “Sometimes you had to go all out with certain customers and buy things to create a magnificent giftwrap,” she says.

Jo grew up knowing the value of personalized customer service.

Her parents, Earle E. and Isobel (Billie) Rosenblum opened a mom and pop store in a downtown Houston office building in 1955 when downtown was still the center of the city’s commerce and populated with well-heeled oil-industry types. One of those Houston clients, a rancher, had bought a new Cadillac and wanted CZs set in the fins. They took on the job, but had to make frequent repairs because every time they visited the gas station, some CZs would wind up missing.

Earle and Isobel expected all of their children to work in the family business when they were growing up.

“We wrapped gifts to earn money,” she says. “We all spent summers and Christmas working in the store. My brother, my sisters, we all had to wait on customers. But as an adult I never had anything to do with it until they asked me to come help with the jewelry store when someone was on vacation.”

Suddenly, retail jewelry became a calling and not a chore.

“How bad can it be when you’re surrounded by beautiful things?” Jo says.

Earle died in 1996 and Jo bought Isobel’s share of the business in 1999 and moved into a retail space at the Hilton Houston Post Oak in Houston’s Uptown neighborhood.

The space was tiny and narrow but Jo loved to fill it with hand-picked treasures and enjoyed meeting hotel guests from all over the world while continuing to nurture local relationships.

Her customers always appreciated her honesty about what looked good on them, or not so good.

And she enjoyed expanding their horizons and their appreciation of fine jewelry.

“Expanding their expectations was my favorite thing,” she says. “They’d come in with a little bitty earring and I’d bump them up and up to larger sizes. I liked finding things that looked good on them. I do have a good eye for that. I miss going to shows and picking out things that my customers would like.”

Jo doesn’t recommend retiring “cold turkey” and so she has continued to meet with long-term clients as a jewelry consultant since she closed her retail doors four years ago, while appreciating being able to sleep later.

Things had changed in the jewelry business at that point and competition had become incredible. “Everyone who ever managed a jewelry store would go out and open their own. There were so many jewelry stores,” she says. “When my dad first started there were a handful and Houston wasn’t half as large. But customers would trust you, they would assume you gave them a good price because you had been their jeweler forever. Now they want to buy it online and then see what you think of it, because they trust you.”

“It was a nice career and a lovely business, placing beautiful things with the right people.”

Now she’s decided it’s time to sell the remaining jewelry from her collection, those special pieces still looking for just the right home.

For more information about Jo’s Fine, Fabulous and Funky Jewelry & Gift Sale, which goes live on Nov. 1, visit liveauctioneers.com.

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Big Survey

2019 Big Survey: Jewelers Predict Next Trend in Jewelry

Results of the 2019 Big Survey are in. Here’s a sample.

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WE ASKED 800-PLUS retail jewelers to take an educated guess at the next breakout category in jewelry.

Here are their top 10 responses:

1. Lab-created diamonds and finished jewelry. (“I think we are already seeing it and it is anything with laboratory-created diamonds.”)

2. Yellow gold (“Yellow gold has been hot, but with the current prices I am not sure.”)

3. Color (also described as rare, exotic and bold. Spinel was mentioned more than once.)

4. Silver (including silver fashion with lab-grown diamonds)

5. Custom and custom bridal

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6. Stackable rings and bracelets

7. Men’s jewelry (Fashion, engagement rings and precious metal wedding bands were mentioned.)

8. Pearls

9. Avant-garde or alternative bridal, including anything asymmetrical

10. Pre-owned jewelry, including vintage jewelry, updated estate jewelry, repurposing old jewelry and restoration of a customer’s jewelry

The 2019 Big Survey was conducted in September and October and attracted responses from more than 800 North American jewelers. Look out for all the results in the November issue of INSTORE.

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