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Jeweler Shuts Down His Store, Merges with Competitor … and More Store Closings from August

‘Sometimes an opportunity comes along and you just have to take it.’

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AFTER 40 YEARS in the jewelry business, Scott Ellison has closed the Evansville, IN, store he occupied since 1994 and returned to the work he likes best — selling jewelry.

“It was to get out from under all the back office stuff, paperwork and ordering and dealing with suppliers,” Ellison said of his decision to merge Ellison Collection Fine Jewelers with one of his Evansville competitors, Brinkers Jewelers.

Ellison Fine Jewelers is among 86 stores reported closed by acquisition or discontinuance in August, according to preliminary numbers from the Jewelers Board of Trade. In final numbers from August 2017, 51 stores closed during that comparable period.

Over the past three years, the JBT research department has identified a slow but steady increase in monthly store closings, largely attributable to the increasing number of Baby Boom store owners choosing to retire, notes JBT president Rich Weisenfeld.

Ellison, who at 55 is at the young end of the Baby Boom spectrum (births between 1946 and 1964), started in the business at 15 as a ”fluke,” taking a job doing “everything from scrubbing toilets to polishing diamonds” solely because it fit with his school schedule. But he gradually discovered that he liked the business — and that “I was good at it.” He  went on to study at the Gemological Institute of America, becoming a Certified Gemologist.

Consistently the top-performing salesperson at the shop where he then worked, Ellison eventually decided to go out on his own. 

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“I wanted to create my own standards for taking care of customers,” he explained in an interview with Brinkers that appears on the store’s website, “so I made the frightening (and exciting) career decision to quit the only life I had ever known and started Ellison Fine Jewelry.”

As the industry matured, he faced new challenges. At the time of its closing, his store had lost about 20 percent of its sales to the web.

Although he now works a 45-50 hour week as opposed to the 70 hours he typically put in as a store owner, his passion for the business is undiminished.

“My favorite thing about the jewelry industry is that there is never a dull moment and the industry is constantly changing. To be an expert you have to continually educate yourself on the new technologies, how things are manufactured, advancements in diamonds, colored gemstones, and high-end timepieces.”

Back-office or front counter, success in the jewelry business requires the same two things, Ellison says: “Hard work and dedication.” Plus, “Treat everybody the same.”

While he had no misgivings about the merger — “Sometimes, an opportunity comes along and you just have to take it” — some of his longtime customers did.

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“When I was in the process of closing my doors, at least 15 of my customers cried,” Ellison says. “Three of them were men – and that was pretty special. They were long-time customers of 20 to 30 years. I was reminded that Ellison’s has been a very special part of so many lives, as it has mine. I’ve sold these families their wedding rings and sold their children their wedding rings, too. To have customers show that kind of emotion validates I did it the right way.”

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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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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Founder of Luxury Jewelry Brand Leaves Company

His resignation was effective Dec. 31.

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Fawaz Gruosi, founder of Swiss luxury jewelry and watch company de Grisogono, has stepped down from his position as a board director and left the company.

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The resignation was effective Dec. 31, according to an article published by WorldTempus.

The decision had been some time in the making, and Gruosi had moving away from daily operations.

Elmar Wiederin, chairman of the de Grisogono board, was quoted saying, “As Founder of this inspirational brand twenty – five years ago, we are thankful to Fawaz Gruosi for his incredible passion and creativity.”

Wiederin continued: “Led by Céline Assimon and the skilled team in place, the Design studio and Atelier will continue to drive design and craftsmanship as before through a collective process, maintaining the traditions of daring creativity for which the brand is known.”

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Assimon was named CEO in December.

De Grisogono also recently named Keith Rosen to the role of general manager for its Americas operations, Rapaport News reports.

Read more at the WorldTempus

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