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Jewelry Store Closes After 69 Years, but ‘We’re Not Done Yet,’ Says Owner’s Son

‘More than one customer had tears in their eyes.’

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Shown here is Andy's Jewelry in 1962.

LOOKING BACK more than 50 years, one of Keith Anderson’s earliest memories is sliding in his socks across the polished terrazzo entrance to his father’s jewelry store in Blue Ridge, GA.

Built in 1962, when Anderson was 5, the building is still there, butting in the back to the tracks now used by a tourist train that is one of the town’s biggest attractions. And the old mosaic spelling out Andy’s Jewelry is still there, inlaid in the terrazzo at the front.

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The store itself is gone, however, one of 52 jewelry stores reported to the Jewelers Board of Trade as closed or sold during October.

“It was an awful thing,” says Anderson of the closing of a local institution, which dates back to 1949, when his father opened up to do watch maintenance for the railroad. “More than one customer had tears in their eyes.”

Anderson shed some tears of his own. The store, he says, was “an anchor in my life,” he says, and even now when he passes the old building, leased to a dress shop, “I still have ideas of leasing it back. Anything can happen.”

But probably not that, he admits. Since 1980, Anderson has had a small design studio, TK Anderson Designs, a little over 100 miles away in Athens. After his father died 20 years ago, Anderson’s mother, Betty, ran the old store and Anderson divided his time between the two. Since Betty Anderson’s death in 2017, the demands on his time became a strain, even for a man who says “I have always had a bad habit of working too much.”

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Plus, Anderson and his brother and sister, co-owners of Andy’s Jewelry, received “a tremendous offer” for the property, which sits in the middle of a highly desirable area in booming Blue Ridge.

So Anderson is resigned to the sale, more or less, even if he still rents a storage space containing all the miscellany he moved out of the store’s catch-all basement — leftovers from Anderson’s grandfather’s time, everything from hair dryers to musical instruments.

Before Anderson’s father built the new place to focus on jewelry, the store was “a kind of neighborhood Walmart,” in the words of Anderson’s son, Wes.

Wes Anderson, 30, works full-time with his dad in the Athens studio, running the design operation with state-of-the-art CAD equipment that leaves Keith Anderson awed by its capabilities.

Even considering the internet and its enormous effect on sales, he thinks the computer-aided design is the biggest thing to have changed in the jewelry business during his long tenure.

By the time he was 12, Anderson had his own miniature bench and an electric soldering iron to do “repairs” in the back of the store.

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“I never really thought of doing anything else,” he says, so after college, he returned to Blue Ridge and the family business.

“I am not much of a numbers guy,” says Anderson. “I never took the route that would make me the most money. I was lucky to find something to do that I loved.”

And that’s the secret, he says, to success in any business. “Find something you love and just love it.”

Wes Anderson started working off and on at the Athens design studio while he was in town as a student at the University of Georgia. After graduation, he joined full time.

“I was shocked,” says Keith Anderson. “You know, things happen, and I had had a divorce from his mother, and I think he just felt sorry for me at first. But he really jumped in, and after a year he had found his place here.”

Wes Anderson does most of the design work these days, as his father moves gradually toward retirement, possibly next year.

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“I won’t buy a condo in Florida and sit,” he says. “I have always wanted to be an artist-jeweler instead of jewelry-store-owner jeweler. For me, retirement is getting to make jewelry that I want to make for myself.

“I have a beautiful collection of stones, waiting on me to play with.”

Recently, father and son worked together on CAD to transform one of those stones into a five-carat diamond engagement ring that sold for more than $150,000, representing the largest single sale of Keith Anderson’s long career.

“Legacy is important to both of us,” says Wes Anderson. “And we’re not done yet.”

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Rooftop Burglars Take Everything from Jewelry Store

They even stole repair items.

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Burglars cut through the roof of a jewelry store in Laguna Niguel, CA, and took “all items in the store, including repair pieces,” the Jewelers’ Security Alliance reports.

KCAL-TV identfied the business as Nuggets and Carats Jewelry Store.

According to JSA, the burglars “cut through the roof, used a rope to lower themselves in, and cut into the safe.”

They also “removed another safe from the store, which was dragged out a back door into a parking lot.”

The crime took place on the evening of March 23.

JSA states that it has seen a nationwide uptick in the number of reports of burglaries involving rooftop entry or cutting through sidewalls, with some involving cutting alarm wires.

According to KCAL, store owner Brian Hassine said of the safe: “It’s a 6-inch deep safe. It’s got a plate on the outside that needed to be cut with some type of a laser or saw, and they had to cut away at the concrete, and then another plate they had to go through.”

Find out more at KCAL-TV

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100 US Jewelry Retailers Closed in the First Quarter

The rate of closings slowed considerably.

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The Jewelers Board of Trade reported that 100 U.S. jewelry retailers closed their doors in the first quarter of 2019.

That number represented a decrease from 282 closings in the first quarter of 2018.

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The total included 73 retailers in the category of “ceased operations” as well as 22 “consolidations (sale/merger)” and five bankruptcies.

The total number of U.S. jewelry businesses that closed, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, was 125. That was a decrease from 343 in the first quarter of 2018.

Meanwhile, JBT reported that 48 new retailers opened their doors in the U.S., up from 45 in the first quarter of 2018.

The total number of new jewelry businesses, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, was 57. That was down from 62 new businesses in the year-ago quarter.

JBT listed a total of 18,920 jewelry retailers in the U.S. as of the first quarter of 2019, down from 19,554 in the same quarter a year ago.

The group listed 25,037 jewelry businesses in all, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. That was down from 25,898 in the first quarter of 2018.

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Forevermark Names CEO

She’s stepping up from the role of COO.

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Forevermark has announced that Nancy Liu will become its CEO, stepping up from her current role as chief operating officer.

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Liu said: “At Forevermark we’ve come a very long way in a very short space of time, yet we believe the future will be even more exciting. The brand has taken a number of bold steps in recent years, and the positive consumer response to these show that there’s a real resonance with our approach. As we continue to develop consumer concepts, campaigns, products and designs, Forevermark will play a vital role in the diamond ecosystem for diamantaires, designers, jewelers and consumers, and I’m delighted I’ll be leading the business as it writes its next chapter.”

Nancy Liu

Liu has served as Forevermark’s president of Asia Pacific for 11 years, and she was responsible for overseeing the brand’s global launch in China.

She was appointed COO of Forevermark and member of the De Beers Executive Committee in August 2017.

Prior to her tenure at Forevermark, Liu specialized in corporate management at The Boston Consulting Group, consulting global luxury brands with the aim to develop their businesses in China. Previously, Liu was the vice president of merchandising at Louis Vuitton Asia Pacific, servicing Louis Vuitton across 14 countries, and general manager for the LVMH Watch and Jewelry division managing TAG Heuer, Zenith, Dior, Ebel, Chaumet and Fendi.

Stephen Lussier, executive vice president of consumer and brands for De Beers Group, will continue to oversee the strategic role Forevermark plays within the Group’s brand portfolio as Forevermark chairman. By stepping away from the day-to-day accountability for Forevermark, Lussier will be able to increase his focus on shaping De Beers Group’s strategy at the consumer level.

Lussier said: “This is a moment of great opportunity for diamonds. As symbols of nature, uniqueness and positive social impact, they have huge potential to inspire consumers of all ages, and with a new CEO at the helm for Forevermark I will be able to spend more time ensuring we build even stronger consumer connections with these miracles of nature across all our activities.

“Fortunately, we have an outstanding candidate to take over as CEO of Forevermark. As the brand sees rapid growth in Asia, Nancy’s exceptional expertise and knowledge of the region provide us with excellent continuity as Forevermark goes from strength to strength.”

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