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Rough Edges, Inclusions and Fractures Add Their Own Beauty to Gemstones, Writes This Designer

A gemstone fresh from the earth can be mesmerizing in itself.

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BEING IN TUCSON during the gem shows in February is magical. Gem lovers, addicts and hoarders descend on the city with great expectations. We are all looking for our fix, and Tucson provides for us all with the perfect gem.

But what does that mean to you?

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It’s not like I can’t appreciate a perfectly cut flawless gemstone; they have their place. However, often, something like a flawless piece of Sleeping Beauty turquoise looks plastic to me, kind of like a beauty queen — pretty, but not all that interesting. I like a rock with experience! Some wisdom, fractures and veins. A scar, heartbreak and history. A stone that took an unusual path and carved its own groove despite the setbacks.

For the longest time, I thought I was alone. When I began working with raw crystals, “freeform” cuts, or heavily fractured and included stones, I didn’t get the best reception. Most of the time, people would say, “Oh. Um. Interesting.”

And we all know what that means. I had a handful of clients that sought me out. We were a fringe tribe; I loved them for “getting” what I was doing.

One of my favorite scores in Tucson was a strand of pale blue/green beryl crystals, heavily included with tufts of iron oxide. They were beautiful, simple with interesting natural edges. Each crystal was perfect on its own. Then, I managed to hit a home run! When I moseyed on over to see my favorite Italian cutter, I found he’d discovered the same vein from the same mine in Brazil, only this stuff was beautifully cut. I incorporated them together in a couple of necklaces: one for a special client, and the other one for me!

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Things are turning around. Last year, at one of the Tucson shows, an influential buyer took me aside and said, “We are looking for jewelry that looks like it’s been dug from the earth.” Music to my ears!

Speaking of music, the whole raw unrefined thing applies to more than gemstones. It’s instinctual for most of us. Primal. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. a couple of years before his death, Tom Petty said that after he saw the Rolling Stones, he was inspired to go for it. “They were grittier [than the Beatles]; it was rawer. They were playing blues in this really energetic kind of raw way, but it wasn’t complicated. There wasn’t a lot of beautiful harmony involved.”

Gemstones and jewelry trends are indicators for our lives. The fact is, some of us want to go dig. Down to the primal part of being human. We crave that delicious, raw, watermelon tourmaline crystal slice with the rough edges. Dug from the earth.

Editor’s note: To view the jewelry referenced by Ksionda above, visit instr.us/lydia

Lydia Ksionda is the creator and designer behind the Leda Jewel Company, formerly of New Orleans and now back in her mother country of Canada. Lydia remains easily distracted by shiny sparkly jewels, food seasoned with love, and fancy schmancy cocktails. Please visit her jewelry site: ledajewelco.com

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Editor's Note

Why It’s Good To Remember Your Best Day Ever

Reliving your favorite memory in business could inspire you to even greater heights.

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IT’S HUMAN NATURE to remember one’s failures most vividly. In my senior year of high school, we finished our football season at 9-2. A record to be proud of, but it’s those two losses that stick with me most.

Maybe you’re the same way, and you’ve had failures that you can’t stop wondering “what if” about. But we’ve already done an issue on failure (go back and read our April issue if you missed it!). Now, it’s time to celebrate the good times! Remember those moments when you were on top of the world? The ones you would love to relive again? Those are the recollections that inspire us to make the next unbelievable memory.

As we roll into the second half of the year, it seems appropriate to recall those “best days ever” to motivate you to even greater heights. In our lead story, we’ve collected 33 reminiscences from your fellow jewelry store owners to remember their favorite days, from that occasion when one made his first sale, to the moment one met his future spouse, to that time one’s father gave her the advice that sticks with her to this day. (We had so many beautiful stories that we couldn’t fit them all in print, so visit instoremag.com to read the rest!)

So go ahead: invite the memory of your favorite day back into your mind right now. Smile. Read about the triumphs of your peers. Then get back into your business and set the stage for your next best. day. ever!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

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First JA Convention Tackles Weighty Issues

Focus of July event is on education and technology.

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JEWELRY RETAILERS, DESIGNERS and manufacturers looking for answers to burning questions about the state of the industry might do well to attend Jewelers of America’s first national convention, July 28-29 at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City.

Organizers have created an educational lineup with unique content as well as hands-on technological help. The event is also timed to coincide with Women’s Jewelry Association Awards for Excellence, July 29, and American Gem Society Circle of Distinction dinner, July 30.

“It’s designed to be a really focused, two-day, high-level educational forum for our members and potential members,” says David Bonaparte, president and CEO of Jewelers of America.

So if, for example, you’ve been lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering what to do about lab-grown diamonds that may infiltrate your inventory, visiting the Diamond Detection Lab during the Jewelers of America National Convention may ease your insomnia by demonstrating a variety of state-of-the-art solutions.

“With so much news and focus on lab-grown diamonds, with new technologies overseas and the ability for manufacturers to produce everything from man-made melee up to a carat and over, we’re seeing that there are issues of detection that present a real need in the industry,” says David Bonaparte.

“The worry is that some goods would pass through labs and go undetected.”

Over the years, however GIA, DeBeers and others have begun to produce ever more sophisticated desktop equipment that makes sending every diamond or potential diamond to an external lab unnecessary.

“There are now devices you can acquire and use to make sure that what you are buying is what the seller says it is,” Bonaparte says. “It’s a great way to see what’s the latest and greatest out there.” The goal of the Diamond Detection Lab is to introduce retailers and diamond dealers to the equipment that is available to them in a simple, user-friendly way.

JA has also curated a group of technology providers in a casual, interactive environment for a Retail Innovation Lab that includes a wide variety of tech options. “I think the most important issues are inventory management and omni-channel selling, so you don’t have your capital just sitting in a case,” Bonaparte says. “Inventory management is always a huge challenge for retailers, especially for the mom and pop retailer; and our demographic is 92 percent single store mom and pop retailers.”

Beyond technology, high-level discussions are planned on geopolitical finance, macroeconomics and legislative action.

“We have Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report who is a one of the leading pollsters in the country who will talk about politics and what the election will mean to businesses,” Bonaparte says. “We also have the U.S. State Department coming to talk about the Kimberley process and responsible sourcing. It’s really unique content that we’re hoping is appealing not only to retailers but to manufacturers as well.”

Another unique aspect of the convention is that attendees won’t be distracted by making appointments with vendors between seminars. “There are great events out there, and they deliver a lot of content and value, but there are really not that many that don’t have a show attached to them,” Bonaparte says.

Retail Innovation Lab exhibitors include:

  • Abbott Jewelry Systems produces a comprehensive software solution to manage retail jewelry stores called the Edge.
  • Buyers Intelligence Group™ designs solutions for merchandising challenges facing retail jewelers and manufacturers. BIG’s online platform provides data analysis tools to help clients understand their business and strategically plan their profitability.
  • Fire Polish Diamonds has developed The Fire Polish cutting technique, which is protected by five U.S. and international patents. By cutting Nano Prisms™ (diffraction gratings) on the pavilion of a diamond, Fire Polish is able to increase the dispersion and scintillation of any diamond without affecting the diamond’s cut or brilliance.
  • GPShopper is a mobile app developer for retailers, empowering brands to improve the customer shopping experience through multiple touch points. Synchrony acquired GPShopper in 2017 to create new mobile solutions for its retail partners.
  • JewelTrace by Spacecode is an RFID-powered data analytics and inventory management solution for jewelers.
  • Podium is a rich communication platform for local businesses. It’s the simplest way to collect reviews, get found online, and talk to customers in real-time through text.
  • Outernets converts static walls, glass and displays into interactive, customizable digital experiences.
  • Smart Age Solutions is a digital marketing agency specializing in the fine jewelry industry partnered with Review Alert. Smart Age Solutions also advises, conducts webinars, and provides unpublished data from Google for its clients.
  • Virtual Diamond Boutique is an interactive app platform to source a diverse global inventory of diamonds, colored gemstones, jewelry and lab-grown diamonds. It’s designed to be easy to use on a desktop or on any mobile device.

For more information, visit here.

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Travelers Should Be Super Careful with Their Jewelry — Here’s Why

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group released a new survey.

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THE NUMBER OF travelers reporting lost or stolen jewelry has doubled over the past four years, according to a national survey conducted by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group. The survey revealed that 20% of respondents suffered a jewelry loss while on vacation. That’s up from 10% just four years ago.

Jewelers Mutual reports the most risky place for travelers to wear fine jewelry is at the beach. And while the insurance company advises sun worshippers to protect their jewelry in a room safe or hotel vault before heading to the water’s edge, too many are choosing to tempt fate. The result: 27% of all travel-jewelry losses can be traced to where the surf meets the sand.

Still another pain point is that only 1% of the lost or stolen jewelry is ever recovered by their owners.

“Travel continues to be a vulnerable time to misplace or have jewelry stolen,” noted Don Elliott, director of claims at Jewelers Mutual. “Travelers can and should insure their jewelry, and there also are steps they can take to minimize risk.”

Elliot outlined these important tips…

  • Document: As you’re packing, take a photo of the pieces you’re taking with you. If you need to file a police report for any reason, this proof of ownership will be very helpful.
  • Carry It: Never put jewelry in a checked bag. Wear it or stow it in your carry-on bag and keep that bag in sight at all times.
  • Don’t Post It: Avoid being an easy target. Don’t share photos of your jewelry or where you are staying on social media.
  • Wear Wisely: Avoid wearing jewelry while swimming, especially in cold water where finger sizes can temporarily shrink.
  • Tuck Away: Never leave jewelry out in the open. Use the safe in your room or hotel vault.
  • Conceal Don’t Reveal: Tuck necklaces inside your shirt, turn your engagement ring to the inside of your hand and cover any bracelets or watches with a sleeve when in dangerous areas.
  • Button Up: If you’re packing earrings, fasten them to an extra button to avoid them being separated or misplaced.
  • Suck It Up: Thread necklaces through a paper straw. This will prevent them from being easily misplaced or lost, with the added benefit of avoiding a tangled mess.

Jewelers Mutual also introduced its new digital publication called “Your Guide For Traveling With Jewelry.” It covers packing, time away, and upon-return tips, as well as advice for buying jewelry on vacation and what to do if your jewelry is lost or stolen while traveling. Click this link for more information.

Conducted in May 2019 by Kantar Group, the Jewelers Mutual survey reflects the experiences of 1,044 adults, ages 18 to 64.

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