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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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Woman Indicted in Jeweler’s Stabbing Death

She’s accused of second-degree murder.

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A Tennessee woman has been indicted in connection with the stabbing death of 62-year-old jeweler Patrick Murphy in a New Orleans hotel room.

Magen Hall, 25, was charged with armed robbery and obstruction of justice and with the second-degree murder of Murphy in the three-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury.

The defendant’s name also is spelled Megan Hall in some court records.

Murphy was the owner of Murphy Jewelers, which has three stores in eastern Pennsylvania.
A housekeeper discovered Murphy’s body at 11:41 a.m. inside a room registered to Hall at the Empress Hotel at 1317 Ursulines Ave. New Orleans police homicide detective Patrick Guidry testified at a preliminary hearing in March that Murphy had been killed by three stab wounds — one to his neck and two to his abdomen.

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Hall has remained jailed since her March 3 arrest, in lieu of a $750,000 bond set for the murder allegation.

Hall faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence if convicted of the murder charge, according to a press release from District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office. An armed robbery conviction carries a penalty of 10 to 99 years in state prison, while obstruction of justice in a homicide investigation is punishable by up to 40 years.

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Waiter Donates $200 to Jeweler’s Fundraiser, Wins Billionaire’s Heart, Gets Dream Job

The event raised $450,000 in all.

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At a catwalk held by family-owned jeweler Le Vian on June 2 in Las Vegas, a billionaire and a waiter became the unexpected stars of the show.

At the company’s 20th anniversary Chocolate Diamonds catwalk fundraiser, Le Vian CEO Eddie LeVian announced that his company would be matching donations for children’s and cancer charities up to $175,000. One donor pledged the full $175,000.

LeVian then invited other smaller donations which came from the floor, with each donor being gifted a balloon and a rose as a thank you.

A waiter, whom the Daily Mail identified as Diego Mario Galietti, suddenly took the roving microphone. Through tears, he explained that he was a single dad and pledged $200 in honor of his father, Luis DaSilva, who had died of cancer at age 55, and in honor of his daughter, who is 7. The 500-strong audience erupted into a standing ovation.

The total raised for charities on the night was $450,000, with Le Vian and a billionaire donor ultimately both raising their donations to $200,000 each.

The billionaire top donor has now offered the waiter a job in his property company. The billionaire donor himself was orphaned at a young age and built himself up from troubled beginnings to become a plumber, a builder and now a property mogul in the U.S. market.

Charities supported by the fundraiser were Jewelers for Children, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Rafa Foundation.

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Selena Gomez Makes a Statement with Pro-Choice ‘1973’ Necklace from Sophie Ratner Jewelry

It’s available in gold, silver, and gold with diamonds.

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Actress Selena Gomez recently created a buzz by wearing a “1973” necklace from Sophie Ratner Jewelry.

The piece is a political statement commemorating the 45th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision protecting abortion rights.

It was created in a collaboration with Physicians for Reproductive Health. Thirty percent of proceeds will be donated to the organization.

The necklace comes in three versions: gold, which Gomez wore; silver; and gold with diamonds. They sell for $380, $115 and $850, respectively.

Gomez wore the necklace on Live With Kelly and Ryan. Sophie Ratner Jewelry posted a closeup of Gomez wearing the piece on Instagram.

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#1973 @sophieratner_jewelry @chanelofficial

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