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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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Gene Shows His Competitive Spirit ... and It's Not Pretty

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene answers a viewer question: “It looks like you have a laser welder in your shop. Should I get one?” Gene suspects he knows who sent the query. He’s not pleased. In fact, the situation brings out the worst of Gene’s competitive spirit.

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Jewelry Company Wins Guinness World Records Title

The winning piece has 15,858 diamonds.

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BASEL, Switzerland – Coronet has been awarded a Guinness World Records title for “most diamonds set on a watch.”

The winning piece, called Mudan, is described on a press release as “an incredible art-piece featuring 15,858 diamonds.”

The title was awarded at the 2019 Baselworld watch and jewelry trade fair.

yet again exceeded expectations at the 2019 Baselworld watch and jewelry trade fair. The brand was awarded its 9th Guinness World Records with the ‘most diamonds set on a watch’. Coronet is already a proud title holder of previous 8 Guinness World Records for innovative diamond creations, including the most valuable Guitar featuring 1.6kg of 18K gold and 400 carats of diamonds.

The watch is set in 18-karat gold with artist Reena Ahluwalia’s diamond painting on the dial. The watch is inspired by Peonies, as they symbolize nobility, honor and wealth. Peony is known as the “king of the flowers” in Chinese culture.

Aaron Shum, founder of Coronet and president of Aaron Shum Jewelry Ltd., said, “Since 2015, CORONET is continuously surprising jewelers and fashion lovers at BaselWorld when we unveiled the dazzling Diamond Guitar.

“This is the ninth time that Coronet has been honored with a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title. We are proud to showcase our one-of-a-kind ‘Mudan’ watch with artist Reena Ahulwalia’s masterpiece on the watch’s dial – a hyper realistic painting of a diamond.”

The Mudan has a total of 50.01 carats of diamonds.

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5 Arrested in $10M Jewelry Heist

A mother and son were among those taken into custody.

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Five people have been charged in connection with an Atlanta burglary in which thieves made off with jewelry worth as much as $10 million, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Burglars may have made off with the jewelry from Icebox Diamonds & Watches in Atlanta in February after tying up the store manager and his wife in their home, authorities say.

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Police took four people into custody: Jose Hernandez Pearson, Gregory Andrews, Tameka Lashon Croskey and Meisha Sims. A fifth person, Crysell Croskey, was already in jail on unrelated charges. Authorities said Tameka Croskey and Crysell Croskey are mother and son.

The suspects face a variety of felony counts, including burglary, theft, weapons and narcotics charges, the Journal-Constitution reports. Racketeering charges are also anticipated.

Before the burglary, two gunmen wearing ski masks entered the home and demanded codes to the store safes, according to earlier reports.

The couple were not injured, although the gunmen threatened to kill them, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported. But media reports say they were bound with zip ties and duct tape.

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Two men broke into the Buckhead store at about 11:30 p.m. and spent about two hours there, police said. They emptied two safes, taking jewelry and watches.

Cash and jewelry were also reportedly stolen from the jeweler’s home.

Read more at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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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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