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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.

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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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A Packed Store Like the Day Before Christmas? Wilkerson Makes It Happen

Deb Schulman says once she and her husband, Ron, decided to retire, she could feel “the stress start to leave.” The owners of B. Alsohns Jewelers in Palm Desert, California, the Schulmans had heard about Wilkerson over the years and contacted them when the time was right. Wilkerson provided the personalized service, experience and manpower it took to organize their GOB sale. “We are so impressed with the way Wilkerson performed for us,” says Ron Schulman, “I’d send high accolades to anyone who was interested.”

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Signet Stock Soars to Best Day in 27 Years Following Strong Holiday Results

Digital sales led the way.

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Signet Kay Jewelers

Signet Jewelers Ltd.’s share price soared on Thursday in the wake of strong holiday sales.

The stock saw it’s largest single-day gain in 27 years, climbing more than 40 percent, MarketWatch reports. It closed at $30.13 per share.

Signet (NYSE: SIG) on Dec. 5 predicted that same-store sales for its fourth-quarter, which ends in January, would be down between 2 percent and 4 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

But strong holiday sales prompted the retailer, whose brands include Jared, Kay Jewelers and Zales, to raise its guidance. It’s now predicting that same-store sales for the quarter will be up 0.1 percent.

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Digital sales have been particularly strong. For the nine weeks ending Jan. 4, they were up 13.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Brick-and-mortar sales were down 0.2 percent.

“Product newness, investments in our digital capabilities, and more targeted marketing campaigns drove both e-commerce and brick and mortar growth in North America,” Signet CEO Virginia Drosos was quoted saying.

Read more at the MarketWatch

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This 18K Gold Is Made With 25% Plastic

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Swiss researchers just unveiled a new type of 18-karat gold that’s made from 75% gold and 25% plastic, yielding super-lightweight, malleable material that weighs just 1/10th to 1/5th as much as the traditional alloy.

The team at ETH Zurich claims that the new lightweight alloy has the exact same lustrous qualities of traditional 18-karat gold, making it an attractive alternative for jewelry manufacturers and designers.

“Lovers of gold watches and heavy jewelry will be thrilled,” wrote Peter Rüegg on ETH Zurich’s official website. “The objects of their desire may someday become much lighter, but without losing any of their glitter. Especially with watches, a small amount of weight can make all the difference.”

The researchers believe that the new material will also be attractive to manufacturers because it is easier to work than traditional precious metals. The melting point of the new material is just 105° C (221° F), versus 1,064° C (1,943° F) for traditional 18-karat gold.

Gold purity is measured by its karatage, with 24-karat gold being 100% pure. Conventional 18-karat yellow gold is made from 75% gold and 25% other materials, such as copper and silver. Popular 14-karat gold is 14/24ths (58.3%) pure gold, and 10-karat gold is 10/24ths (41.6%) gold. Both 14-karat and 10-karat gold are commonly mixed with silver and copper.

With the new material, ETH Zurich scientists used a matrix of plastic in place of metallic alloy elements. Instead of weighing 15 grams per cubic centimeter, the new 18-karat material weighs 1.7 grams per cubic centimeter.

Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials at ETH Zurich, explained how she and her colleagues used protein fibers and a polymer latex to form a matrix in which they embedded thin discs of gold nanocrystals. In addition, the lightweight gold contains countless tiny air pockets invisible to the eye.

Highlights of the process were recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

“This gold has the material properties of a plastic,” Mezzenga said. “If a piece of it falls onto a hard surface, it sounds like plastic. But it glimmers like metallic gold, and can be polished and worked into the desired form.”

The researchers also claimed that the hardness of the material may be adjusted by slightly altering the composition. The latex, for example, could be replaced by other plastics, such as polypropylene. Also, altering the shape of the gold nanoparticles will change the color from gold to violet.

While Mezzenga and her team see obvious applications for jewelry and watch manufacturers, the material also may be suitable for chemical catalysis, electronics applications or radiation shielding.

Credit: Image by ETH Zurich / Peter Rüegg.

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717 US Jewelry Retailers Closed Their Doors in 2019

The number of closures is down significantly from 2018’s figure.

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The Jewelers Board of Trade reports that 717 U.S. jewelry retailers stopped doing business in 2019.

That’s down from 852 businesses that closed in 2018.

Of those, 589 fell into the category of “ceased operations,” while 110 were listed as “consolidations (sale/merger)” and 18 were classified as “bankruptcies.”

Meanwhile, 193 jewelry retail businesses opened their doors in the U.S. in 2019. That was up from 183 in 2018.

Counting wholesalers and manufacturers along with retailers, 900 U.S. jewelry businesses closed their doors in 2019. That’s compared with 1,013 in 2017.

The total number of jewelry retailers listed in the U.S. is now 18,613, compared with 19,198 at the end of 2018, according to the Jewelers Board of Trade.

The total number of jewelry businesses, including wholesalers and retailers, is 25,565, compared with 25,400 at the end of 2018.

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