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Late Rush Arrives to Rescue the Holiday Season

Check out results from our final mini-survey of the holiday season.

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A GREAT LAST WEEK helped turn what had been shaping up as a disappointing holiday season into a good one for many jewelers. Overall, however, the season could be best described as a mixed bag as record sales throughout 2018 fueled high expectations ahead of the peak selling period, only for December to fail to deliver.

The share of jewelers who described the season as either “better than expected” or “terrific” – 37 percent – just edged the proportion who said it was either “worse than expected” or “dismal” – 35 percent. That marked a solid improvement from our previous survey done in mid-December, when only 25 percent of jewelers rated their season up to that point positively and 37 percent said it was looking like a bust.

“It was very late getting started but we pulled it out. Not our best Christmas but good,” said Valerie Savvenas, of Manoli’s Jewelers in Springfield, MO.

“I was truly broken and worried by the 12th because sales had see-sawed the first half of the month,” said Denise Oros, owner of Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL. “Then the steady, sweet daily tallies started rolling in and then just roared to a stop on Christmas Eve when we shut the doors,” she said, adding that she ultimately finished with her best December on record.

HOW WAS CUSTOMER TRAFFIC COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

WHAT WAS YOUR AVERAGE SALE THIS HOLIDAY PERIOD?

HOW WAS YOUR AVERAGE TICKET COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

PLEASE RATE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON FOR YOUR STORE

For many other jewelers, though, 2018 simply ended with a whimper.

“Our year was very strong, at a 30 percent increase, so we projected our December to keep track” said one respondent who answered the survey anonymously. “But we were very disappointed to just keep up with December 2017. Our ARS declined as we saw people spending less, and some of our larger spenders didn’t come.”

For those who missed their targets, there was no shortage of culprits from online sellers to stock market turmoil, to the government shutdown, rising interest rates and even the full moon.

“Tell the Fed not to raise interest rates during Christmas. And take our president’s phone away,” pleaded Georgie Gleim of Gleim the Jeweler in Palo Alto, CA, who said she actually had a surprisingly strong holiday season despite all the chaos being reflected in the news headlines.

Following on from the trend seen in recent weeks (and years), store traffic continued to fall while average tickets increased and custom design jewelry went from strength to strength.

If there was a recurring word in the jewelers’ comments to describe the season, it was “weird.”

“Christmas 2018 was strange,” said Susan Kauffman of Black Dog Jewelers in Lewisburg, PA, “Traffic was way down but the people who did come in bought without a sale price or without asking for a deal. I closed my store on the 26th and we went around to some malls and the parking lots were full; more so than in the beginning of December. I have been in this biz for 30 years and really couldn’t figure the season out.“

Marc Majors, owner of Sam L. Majors in Midland, TX concurred: “We had a strong rush on Saturday and Christmas Eve and that was it. Other than those two days there was no sense of urgency. This holiday season was the strangest I’ve been through yet in my 15-year career and I wouldn’t mind if I never saw one like this again.”

Lisa McConnell of Lisa McConnell Design Studio in Fort Worth, TX said her holiday season was dominated by repairs – really big ones. “Slowest holiday ever. I repaired some of the most expensive jewelry I’ve seen in a long time. Several four-carat solitaire diamond rings, 10-carat solitaire diamond rings and one 23-carat pear shape diamond ring. Lots of high pressure jobs but few big-dollar jobs. Not sure what to think.”

Weird or not, jewelers said they were looking forward to tackling the new year with what they’ve learned over the last two months, including making tweaks to their hours, marketing and inventory.

“We have done a no-strings-attached gift certificate for the last five years. We will not do those going forward,” said Joel Wiland of J.David’s Jewelry in Broken Arrow, OK. “The people that came in to only claim the face value of the card this year definitely ruined it.”

Tom Ozment Jr. of Fincher & Ozment Jewelers in Tuscaloosa, AL, said it appeared customers “still want deals’ so we’ll be having a massive sale next December to give them what they want.”

Wadeana Beveridge, of Community Jewelry in Brandon, FL said many of her customers appeared to be looking at the $150-or-less bracket, mostly earrings. “So I think next year we need to make a point of having a lot of options for birthstones and diamonds.”

In contrast, Jo Goralski, owner of The Jewelry Mechanic in Oconomowoc, WI, said she’d be aiming higher. “I am done with selling trinkets. Purchased goods sales have been sliding for a decade, so with fewer and fewer shoppers in the store, and fewer and fewer years left to be in this business, we are finally going to focus on what we have always wanted to be: studio jewelers,” she said. “We have so many designs yet to create that we are going to focus on what we do best, make things.”

More than 300 jewelers from around the United States and Canada answered the survey, which was sent out on the morning of Dec. 26.

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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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