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IJO Still Strong in Antwerp

The group recently wrapped up its Fall Buying Trips.

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(PRESS RELEASE) SOUTHPORT, CT — The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) recently wrapped up its Fall Buying Trips after more than 44 years of offering escorted excursions twice yearly for its members, and the program shows no signs of slowing down. According to IJO President and CEO Jeff Roberts, “I remember we started out by booking a week in the spring and another in the fall and now we offer two weeks of trips in April and five in October. Our members have found this to be an invaluable marketing tool.”

About 90 IJO stores – more than 180 people – traveled to the diamond capital of the world in October 2019 alone and 14 stores were first-timers while others were veterans of 18, 38, 42 and even 57 trips. “Because we know our Antwerp marketing program is a tried and true winner, we offer an incentive for first-time attendees of one free land package,” stated Penny Palmer, IJO’s director of member services. “This covers five nights at the Mercure City Centre hotel, transfers from and to Brussels airport, all breakfasts, plus our generous diamond suppliers cover our beverages at 3 dinners. Then after their return all travelers receive a check for an additional $300 to cover various expenses.”

Becky Beck Ryan from Becky Beck’s Jewelry in DeKalb, IL, made her 38th voyage. “When I made the decision to take advantage of this remarkable marketing tool IJO presented, I committed to it completely, going twice a year beginning in the Spring of 2000. IJO’s mantra was, ‘If you go to Antwerp twice a year, in the minds of your customers, you’ll always be going to Antwerp’. This is what I’ve done and I think going twice a year is key to this program. Some will argue pricing advantage and I say ‘Bah’ – I establish a comfortable budget, based on acceptable delivery expectation, and sell the selection and pick process. That budget and those expectations will be exceeded, in some way, when I deliver their diamonds.”

“I’ve been going to Antwerp with IJO for more than 30 years,” reported Todd Murray, Murray’s Jewelers, Muncie, IN, “and it’s always been good every year. And it’s still getting better. My best year to date was 25-28 pre-sold diamonds, but this fall I was able to top that with 37 pre-sales for $164,000. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming, but by working really efficiently I was able to fill all the calls. This program has had such a positive effect on my image in my community.”

Connie Thurmond from Connie & V. Cross Jewelers in Bossier City, LA offered, “We’ve enjoyed 18 years of diamond buying from some of the top suppliers in the world. We have traveled half away around the globe to make many of our customers so proud that they received a beautiful diamond from the enchanted lands of Antwerp! IJO makes this adventure such a success for all that take part in this magical journey.”

Shown here are Connie Thurmond and Verlon Cross from Connie & V. Cross Jewelers in Bossier City, LA.

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Brian & Theresa McLean from Simone’s Jewelry in Shrewsbury, NJ, were first-timers last month. According to Brian, “We really enjoyed it — the comradery is something I really relish. As for the business end, the selection of diamonds is something I wasn’t prepared for. After 29 years in business I feel like I have found an excellent new source for my customers and an added shot of adrenaline for my business. Thanks for helping us make the decision to go!”

Dave Spalding from Timmreck & McNicol Jewelers in McMinnville, OR, recently returned from his 57th trip. “It’s pretty simple,” Dave said. “My first trip was Spring of ’91. I skipped the next one in Fall, but thereafter went each season for a total of 57. We have had a low of $16,000 in pre-sales and a high of $157,000 in the spring of ’96. We have averaged approximately $35,000 in spring and $55,000 in fall and believe we have had about $3 million in presales over that period. This program has jump-started our Diamond business to such an extent that it is integral to what our store does.”

Dave Spaulding with his daughter Jean on his 56th Antwerp trip.

IJO’s program instructs members on how to pre-sell diamonds before they leave home. People are skeptical – at first – but soon learn the program works. “We give members the tools to be successful,” Roberts added. “There’s a romance to traveling so far to hand-select the perfect diamond from a mountain of inventory — and inventory was strong this fall – no one had trouble filling their needs! I and some of my staff have been there countless times but we never tire of it. We love sharing the excitement!”

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Lark & Berry Launches Collaborative Collection in Design Partnership with HBO ‘Vikings’ Star, Alicia Agneson

It will debut a new 15-piece fine jewelry.

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(PRESS RELEASE) LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Disrupting cultured diamonds jewelry brand Lark & Berry is set to debut a new 15-piece fine jewelry range in design partnership with HBO ‘Vikings’ actress Alicia Agneson, aptly named ‘Alicia.’ Lark & Berry’s new Alicia Agneson designed range will feature jewelry crafted in 14k yellow gold, and 18k white gold with the brand’s signature cultured diamonds and sapphires. All new pieces will be available starting December 2019 online at larkandberry.com ,as well as in Lark & Berry’s flagship Marylebone, London location just steps away from Selfridge’s.

Agneson’s keen eye for detail and inventive design has yielded pieces that are sleek in style, with unusual cuts of stones and delicate cultured diamonds. As a compliment to Lark & Berry’s Veto Petals necklaces and earrings, the new Agneson-designed Alicia set also features inspiration from the natural environment, in the form of “leaves” hanging from diamond cut chains, creating a sense of movement.

“I made the decision a year back to be more environmentally conscious. It resulted in me taking the decision to never again wear newly made clothes. That led to Lark & Berry and me finding each other,” Agneson states. “With Lark & Berry, I share the same love for the smaller beauties in life but with a conscious mind along the way. Designing the Alicia collection has been a hugely exciting from start to end, with all the hours spent in the studio finding what represents both me and the brand. I’m proud over what we’ve accomplished, and I hope we can together open eyes to cultured stones. We can be beautiful and save the planet at the same time, bit by bit.”

Lark & Berry’s 3 new high-jewelry pieces are crafted in 18k white gold and feature beautiful, elongated cultured forest green quartz paired with grey cultured pearls. This includes is a unique new radiant pearl necklace with forest green quartz and diamond clasp, designed to give the wearer the option to self-style the piece in multiple ways.

The open cocktail ring from this range sits well alongside the 14K yellow gold cocktail rings, including a 11.4ct violet sapphire in an emerald cut with double talon claws and a 6.1ct burnt orange sapphire ring with stunning diamond set leaf detail in the setting.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have such a creative, prestige-actress as Alicia joining us to design a collection. Alicia’s love of nature and sustainable fashion inspired the naturalistic features of this new collection,” said Lark & Berry founder Laura Chavez.

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Gem Legacy Offers Year-End Giving Opportunities

Jewelers can demonstrate to clients their commitment to colored-gem supply chain sustainability.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ROYAL OAK, MI — Gem Legacy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization launched in 2018 and dedicated to supporting gem mining communities in East Africa, is offering members of the gem and jewelry industry a quantifiable and tangible avenue for making year-end charitable donations. Those who contribute will be supporting a cause that positively impacts small colored-gem miners and their communities.

Contributors will also be given pre-written materials to immediately announce their donations to their clients during the holiday giving season.

Year-end giving opportunities include:

  • A $750 sponsorship for young adults to receive a four-month training program in gem faceting, gemology and gem identification
  • A $550 scholarship for secondary school fees for Kenyan orphans in gem sourcing communities
  • A $200 donation to adopt an in-need family in a gem sourcing community for the holidays

Industry members who make a donation to any of these initiatives will receive a pre-written message and photo they can use for email or social media posting. The materials will reference the gem-mining location and initiative that will benefit.

Gem Legacy gives 100% of donations directly to its initiatives, which are located in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. All focus on entrepreneurship, education and in-need children in gem mining locales. Other kinds of donations and fundraising ideas can be found on gemlegacy.org/partners and interested parties can create their own fundraising efforts from the templated materials.

“We are so excited to provide this opportunity to the global gem and jewelry trade: giving back to those who have given us the foundations of our businesses,” said Roger Dery, executive director of Gem Legacy. “Gem Legacy is committed to exponentially expanding the positive impact of gemstones on sourcing communities and sharing a public image of how gemstones are improving lives within these often challenged areas.”

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Alisa Announces New Ownership

It’s effective the beginning of 2020.

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(PRESS RELEASE) Alisa, best known for its versatile and affordable fine jewelry products in sterling silver, 18K gold and diamonds for 25 years, will be under new ownership effective the beginning of 2020. Industry veterans Marci and Adam Staub will head the company as its new principals. “We are delighted that the Alisa brand will continue to be available to our many loyal retailers through such highly talented people,” say current owners Lisa and Fred Morgan. “We know Marci and Adam very well for more than a decade. They are true professionals in our industry ̶ knowledgeable, innovative, energetic, and customer service oriented ̶ and they will be fabulous for the brand’s ongoing success.”

Marci and Adam have 35 years of extensive experience in the fine jewelry industry, including design, manufacturing, wholesale and retail. Adam is a Graduate Gemologist – GIA and a member of the 24K Club in the Southeast region. “Adam and I are excited to continue the tradition of Alisa’s well designed Italian-made fine jewelry while creatively expanding the product line as we go forward,” says Marci. “The company’s high quality exclusive jewelry, with its distinctive signature style, has a classic and timeless appeal for many U.S. retailers and their discriminating customers.”

The Morgans will be assisting Marci and Adam during the ownership transition, which is expected to be seamless. To find out more about Alisa and their fine jewelry products, log on to alisadesigns.com. For additional information regarding the change of ownership, please call 888.253.6600 or contact marci@alisadesigns.com or adam@alisadesigns.com.

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