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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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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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Jewelry Store Was Going Out of Business … But a Former Employee Had Other Ideas (Video)

Stan and Mary Sherwin operated the store for 40 years but decided to retire.

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A jewelry store in Atascadero, CA, was about to close for good as its owners retired.

But a former employee had other ideas.

Stan and Mary Sherwin operated K. Jons Diamonds and Gems for 40 years and were set to cease operations in early January, The Tribune reports.

But then Lindsay Jane Chatham, who began working for the store as a teenager and continued for several years, decided to move back to town with her husband, Greg, and take over the business.

“We found out they were retiring, and so many things had to fall into place. It was crazy,” she was quoted saying.

The store will operate as K. Jons Jewelry Co., according to The Tribune.

The Chathams, both of whom are gemologists, will lease the store space from the Sherwins. They’ll keep most of K. Jons’s employees.

One thing they aren’t buying from the Sherwins is inventory. Most of that was purchased in a going-out-of-business sale.

Watch the video:

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Louis Vuitton to Sell Jewelry Made From World’s Second-Largest Diamond

The deal follows LVMH’s acquisition of Tiffany & Co.

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LVMH Sewelo Diamon

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE has entered a deal to sell jewelry made from the world’s second-largest diamond, known as the Sewelo diamond.

It’s a 1,758 carat gem that’s the size of a tennis ball.

Lucara Diamond Corp. announced a deal with LVMH and the HB Co., a diamond manufacturer from Antwerp, that will see the diamond cut into pieces and made into Louis Vuitton jewelry.

Bloomberg reports that LVMH “will likely create several extremely high-end pieces  to establish a sense of exclusivity.”

A price tag for the Sewelo has not been revealed. Yahoo Finance notes that it sold for $53 million in 2017.

The acquisition is further evidence of LVMH’s plans to grow its jewelry business, according to Bloomberg. It follows the company’s nearly $16 billion acquisition of Tiffany & Co.

The diamond was recovered from Lucara’s Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana in April 2019.

According to a press release from Lucara:

Lucara will receive an up front non-material payment for the Sewelô and retain a 50% interest in the individual polished diamonds that result.

Further, 5% of all of the retail sales proceeds generated from this historic collection will be invested directly back into Botswana on community-based initiatives undertaken by Lucara.

Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Louis Vuitton, the famous luxury House, to transform the historic, 1,758 carat Sewelô, Botswana’s largest diamond, into a collection of fine jewellery that will commemorate this extraordinary discovery and contribute direct benefits to our local communities of interest in Botswana.”

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Karma Hits Hard as Bungling Thieves Lock Themselves in Jewelry Store During Robbery (Video)

A judge called the crime a ‘fiasco.’

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Security footage of a jewelry story robbery described as a “fiasco,” with the thieves briefly locking themselves in the business, is making the rounds on social media.

The bungling robbers struck the Ital Gold shop in Green Lanes, Haringey, north London, the BBC reports. The crime took place in April, but the video surfaced recently when Andrew Elliott, 32, was sentenced to seven years in prison for the robbery.

A store worker “was held in a headlock and dragged to the floor,” according to the BBC. She broke free and ran away, hitting a panic alarm and then hiding in the bathroom.

Footage of the heist has accumulated 1.3 million views on Twitter, Today.com reports.

In the clip, the suspects tried to flee but realized they were trapped, as the door wouldn’t open from the inside. One of the suspects thought to hit the “catch and release” button, according to Today.com. The thieves then repeatedly failed to hold the door for each other.

In sentencing Elliott, Judge Mark Dennis QC said, “This was a planned and organized robbery, however much of a fiasco the latter part of it turned out to be,” according to the BBC.

The three still managed to make off with $27,000 in jewelry. The other two suspects have yet to be identified.

Watch the BBC’s clip:

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