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Russell Korman Jewelry Gains New Owners

Longtime industry family will carry on tradition, expand fine jewelry and timepiece collections.

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(PRESS RELEASE) AUSTIN, TX — For 45 years, Russell “Rusty” Korman built a reputation as Austin’s leading independent jeweler on the bedrock values of honesty, integrity and generously contributing to the community.

These values will live on at Russell Korman Fine Jewelry – but without the company’s eponymous founder following the recent sale of the business to jewelers Larry and Kat Stokes.

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Rusty Korman and his brother and sister-in-law, Hank and Monica Korman, will retire in January, but the location will stay the same at 5011 Burnet Road. The new name will be simplified to just KORMAN, with a full-scale, launch planned for early 2019.

Korman will be the first to tell you when word got out that he was interested in selling, the new owners didn’t make the highest offer. What they did do was make the best one.

“As I got to know Larry and Kat, I just felt instinctively that they would continue to operate with the transparency and integrity that are so important to me and our customers,” Rusty Korman said.

Their family’s reputation also helped.

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Larry Stokes grew up in the jewelry business. He has been in the industry for over 15 years and has extensive Swiss timepiece training and jewelry buying that includes travels to Switzerland, Israel, and Hong Kong.

His mother, Susan Robinson, founded Susan Robinson Fine Jewelry in Tyler, Texas in 1984. Larry and later Kat eventually joined what was then a gift and jewelry business, steering the company away from gifts to focus exclusively on customer experience, fine jewelry and Swiss timepieces.

“We love Austin and are excited to be a part of this amazing community,” Kat Stokes said. “We strive to offer classic jewelry pieces but with a bit of Austin flare. Our customers are well traveled and they want to see and experience something different. The most rewarding part of what we do is getting to help celebrate life milestones with our clients. We hope to cater to all ages and offer the perfect token to commemorate any occasion.”

Many of the store’s long-time employees will remain as KORMAN expands its fine jewelry offerings to include a broader selection of unique international designers, diamonds and the finest Swiss timepieces.

“We will honor the KORMAN legacy by continuing to give back to the community. We will also bring fresh energy and offer customers a new experience when they walk in the door,” Larry Stokes said.

With four master jewelers and watchmakers onsite, KORMAN offers the best and most comprehensive in-house jewelry and watch repair in Central Texas. It’s a competitive advantage that the new owners plan to expand on next year.

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“We are a full service jewelry boutique,” Larry Stokes said. “Customers have peace of mind when servicing their family’s heirlooms.”

This convenience along with personal service, custom design, reserved parking, and a beautiful 6,000-square foot gallery where customers can see and hold rare, exclusive goods, are key to competing with national chains and online retailers.

The store and merchandise have come a long way in the 45 years since Rusty Korman first entered the jewelry business. He began his career by selling beads in Austin in 1973 on “The Drag,” which refers to the section of Guadalupe Street that runs along the western edge of the University of Texas at Austin. He eventually opened a bead store called Russell’s, first at Dobie Mall and later at Highland Mall. He sold the business to a friend in 1979 and took a few years off before opening Russell Korman Jewelers, a hybrid jewelry retailer and wholesaler, on Congress Avenue in 1983.

Now 66 years old, Korman began considering retirement about the time that Larry and Kat Stokes began to seriously pursue their dream of owning a jewelry store in Austin and raising their three children in the best city in Texas. Introduced by mutual friends, including Austin-based investor G.H. “Kam” Kronenberg III, Korman got to know Kat and Larry Stokes and negotiated terms over 24 months before reaching a deal. Kronenberg is also a partner in the new ownership group.

“Most independent jewelers have gone by the wayside unless a family member will take it over,” Rusty Korman said. “KORMAN will be here for the next 30 years. I’m leaving my customers in good hands.”

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Press Releases

Chairman Elected for JSA Board

He is replacing Stewart Wicht of Rolex.

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Steven Kaiser

(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – On Jan. 12, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance held its annual meeting and luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in New York for 170 supporters, law enforcement personnel and industry leaders. At the luncheon it was announced that Steven Kaiser of Kaiser Time had been elected chairperson of JSA for a three-year term, replacing Stewart Wicht of Rolex, who had completed his term.

John Kennedy, president of JSA , began the luncheon with a moment of silence for Helen Buck, who worked for JSA for 37 years and passed away in October 2018, and a moment of silence for the one jeweler who was killed in the U.S. in 2018 during a
robbery.

Kennedy said that in contrast to one jeweler killed in 2018, there were 37 U.S. jewelers killed in 1992, indicating a remarkable decline. He also said that in almost every year since 2000 the total dollar losses from crime against the U.S. jewelry industry hit new lows. He attributed this decline to a powerful War on Jewelry Crime that JSA has helped organize, encourage and promote, and which now includes a network of 3,000 law enforcement personnel and broad representation of the jewelry industry.

He stated that JSA’s network of over 21,000 industry members and supporters extended from the behemoths of the industry like Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., GIA, JCK, Rolex and Signet, to manufacturers, chains, independents, security firms and mom-and-pop jewelers coast-to-coast.

Newly elected to the JSA Board was Alan Zimmer, CEO of Reeds Jewelers, a chain of 60 fine jewelry stores. Re-elected to three-year terms were: Patti Geo lat of the Geolat Cos.; Chris Hackler of Signet Jewelers; Mark Smelzer of JCK; and David Tearle of GIA. Continuing in their terms on the JSA Board are: Chad Berg of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry; David Bonaparte of Jewelers of America; Marc Green of Lux, Bond & Green; Adam Heyman of Oscar Heyman & Bros.; David Sexton of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.; Mark Udell of London Jewelers; Stewart Wicht of Rolex; and Stanley Zale of Stuller.

At the luncheon, JSA presented the Annual Industry Service Award s to Michelle Graff, editor-in-chief of National Jeweler; and Rob Bates, news director of JCK.

Kennedy said that these two journalists had made a valuable contribution to the security of the jewelry industry by helping spread JSA’s information and advice to a wide audience.

JSA also presented the Annual James B. White Law Enforcement Awards to three officers with the Paramus, NJ, Police Department: Deputy Chief Robert M. Guidetti, Detective Lieutenant Frank Scott and Detective Nicholas Luciano. Kennedy stated that these officers had provided valuable service to the jewelry industry by investigating and arresting numerous suspects in over 100 crimes against jewelers totaling millions of dollars.

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Press Releases

GIA Alum Craig Danforth to Join Jewelers Mutual team

He will work closely with the leadership team.

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Craig Danforth

(PRESS RELEASE) NEENAH, WI – Craig Selimotic Danforth will join the leadership team of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group on Monday, January 28, assuming the role of vice president of client solutions.

Danforth has 25-plus years of sales, business development, marketing, training, and finance experience, most recently demonstrated as Director, Global Business and Development at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

“Craig’s experience in the industry makes him an ideal candidate for this role,” said Mike Alexander, senior vice president of commercial lines. “We will work together to enhance our current offerings and develop new opportunities to strengthen and grow the jewelry industry.”

As part of the Jewelers Mutual team, Danforth will work closely with the leadership team to shape the foundation, priorities, and vision of our key initiatives. His experiences at upcoming industry events and trade shows will offer Jewelers Mutual insights to further develop our core offerings and expand our emerging businesses.

Prior to his 10 years at GIA, Danforth held management roles at Cartier, David Yurman, and Ermenegildo Zegna.

Danforth completed his BA at Hamilton College, his MBA at ESSEC Business School in France, and has several diplomas from GIA including Graduate Diamonds, Graduate Pearls, and Accredited Jewelry Professional (AJP).

He is on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA), a member of Jewelers 24 Karat Club of Southern California, and also serves on the 24 Karat Club of Southeastern US’s scholarship committee.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group is seeking skilled and experienced employees to fill a variety of roles within the company. For a full list of employment opportunities, visit jewelersmutual.com/careers.

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Press Releases

Picchiotti Expands U.S. Team with Former Retail Executive Mark Mazzarese

He will help extend the Picchiotti presence across North America.

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                      Mark Mazzarese

(PRESS RELEASE) VALENZA, ITALY – Valenza based Italian jewelry brand Picchiotti is expanding its U.S. team effective February 1st with the addition of former retail executive Mark A. Mazzarese. Building upon the success of its patent-pending Xpandable Collection and its one-of-a-kind gemstone classics, Picchiotti will commence its 52nd year in business with the addition of a second U.S. sales representative. Mazzarese will join U.S. Chief Agent Barry Meyrowitz to help extend the Picchiotti presence across North America.

“My family and I are delighted to welcome Mark to the Picchiotti team,” says President and Founder Giuseppe Picchiotti. “His unique expertise and leadership skills, coupled with his lengthy experience in the fine jewelry industry, ensure that he will grow our business with the standard of excellence and customer service for which our brand is known.”

Mazzarese comes to Picchiotti with a life-long history of excellence and passion in the fine jewelry industry. A nationally recognized retail jewelry executive, he served as President of Mazzarese Fine Jewelry in Kansas City from 1998 to 2017. He has also served on the boards of such prestigious organizations as the FBI Citizens Academy and the Kansas City Zoo. He is a member of the Centurion Leadership Program of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Leawood Chamber of Commerce. Mark will bring a unique customer-service and retail-oriented approach to his work with Picchiotti and will take responsibility for the western portion of North America.

Mazzarese is a graduate of the University of Kansas and an alumnus of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Mazzarese or the Picchiottis, please contact Maria Carola Picchiotti (mariacarola@Picchiotti.it) or Luxury Brand Group (duvall@luxbrandgroup.com).

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