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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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It Was Hawaii Day at Gene the Jeweler’s Store … Or Was It?

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene learns that it was Hawaii Day at his store. At least that’s what his employee, Jeremy, says. But Jeremy’s answers aren’t quite adding up. It’s hard to say what this “Hawaii Day” was really all about.

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Press Releases

JNA Awards reveals 2019 Honorees

There are almost 100 high-quality entries from 15 countries and regions.

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(PRESS RELEASE) HONG KONG — Organized by Informa Markets, the prestigious JNA Awards unveiled its highly anticipated list of Honorees across 11 categories for its eighth edition.

For the full multimedia release, click here.

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The judging panel has worked diligently over this past month, as their job keeps getting tougher and tougher each year. In 2019, there are almost 100 high-quality entries from 15 countries and regions.

Letitia Chow, chairperson of the JNA Awards, and director of business development – Jewelry Group at Informa Markets, commented, “Of the 39 Honoree companies that were shortlisted, almost half of them are first-time entrants, indicating a growing interest among quality companies who recognize the importance of this platform. We have also received a record number of entries from Thailand, second in ranking together with India and Hong Kong, reflecting the importance of this market which has been traditionally modest about its accomplishment.”

The 2019 independent judging panel consists of industry experts: James Courage, former CEO of Platinum Guild International (PGI) and former chairman of the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC); Albert Cheng, former managing director of World Gold Council, Far East (WGC); Lin Qiang, president and managing director of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE); Nirupa Bhatt, managing director of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) India and Middle East; Yasukazu Suwa, chairman of Suwa & Son, Inc.; and Mark Lee, research director of Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy (APIFS).

Courage shared, “The quality of this year’s entries, along with its diversity in terms of size, type and geography, are worth noting. Despite facing challenges, the industry – through these entries – showed its focus and determination when it comes to investing in innovation, operating systems and consumer research.”

Cheng added, “Just like in the last seven years, Industry Innovation of the Year proved to be the most popular category. The Young Entrepreneur Honorees – whose credentials, professionalism and innovativeness reflect on their outstanding businesses – are equally impressive.”

Lin remarked, “It is surprising and inspiring to know that nearly 100 entries were received – more than half of which are from first-time entrants. The influence and credibility of the JNA Awards is beyond question. It will be a rewarding journey for everyone involved.”

“Having worked with the JNA Awards since 2013, I noticed that the judging process grows more difficult as the entries reach new heights and push the boundaries of excellence year after year,” Bhatt noted.

Suwa expressed, “Entrants to the JNA Awards vary from very big corporations to small ones. I kept in mind to judge them based on their mission and the long-term good they have been doing for people, regardless of the company’s size.”

Lee also added, “The JNA Awards continues to strengthen its role as an excellent platform to showcase the industry’s progress and success. The entries, particularly in the areas of innovation and marketing, are truly impressive.”

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Sy Kessler Launches Latest Diamond and White Sapphire Tester

They are available at only $249.95.

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(PRESS RELEASE) DALLAS, TX – GEMORO Superior Instruments division of Sy Kessler Sales, Inc. successfully introduced its latest diamond, moissanite and white sapphire tester called the GEMORO TESTEROSSA. The top-of-the-line, ergonomically designed thermal and electrical conductivity tester features new patented UV-F1 technology for identifying the widest range of moissanite, including the hardest to detect new generation super low electrically conductivity moissanite. With an unprecedented 10-year warranty on the probe tip, the tester is also the world’s only talking tester, which speaks in 9 different languages.

Available from GEMORO’s nationwide network of jewelers supply houses or jewelry equipment distributors at only $249.95. For distributor inquiries, contact Angela Calzada acalzada@sykessler.com or 800.527.0719, ext.137.

Visit gemoroproducts.com/product/testerossa/ for detailed instructional video.

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DCA Receives Grant from GIA for Scholarships

Scholarships will be provided to DCA graduates for continued education at GIA.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – Diamond Council of America (DCA), a nationally accredited school that offers jewelers the opportunity to earn professional certifications in diamonds, colored gemstones, and fine jewelry sales through distance education, announced that it has received a $25,000 grant from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)  to provide scholarships to DCA graduates to enroll in GIA online distance education courses.

DCA has always encouraged students to continue to enhance their career by enrolling in GIA courses after graduating from DCA courses. The grant will allow even more DCA students to continue their education in advanced coursework offered only by GIA. Scholarships are open to DCA members and their employees who are: at least 18-years old, currently employed at a DCA member store, a graduate of at least one DCA course and not already enrolled in another distance education course from GIA.

“We are incredibly appreciative of this grant and the opportunity to work more closely with GIA to have DCA students continue their education and improve their professional profile by taking GIA courses,” said DCA President and CEO Terry Chandler.

DCA will administer the scholarships funded by the GIA grant. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 31, 2019, and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. Scholarships may be applied toward any of the following GIA eLearning courses, based on availability: Jewelry Essentials, Colored Stone Essentials, Diamond Essentials, Pearls, Colored Stones, Diamonds and Diamond Grading and Gem Identification.

Scholarship applications should be submitted to DCA’s New York office either via email to cmiller@jewelers.org or via hard copy to Carey Miller at Jewelers of America, 120 Broadway, Suite 2820, New York, New York 10271.

“GIA is very pleased to build on our support for DCA’s efforts to bring more gemology education to more people,” said GIA vice president of education and chief academic officer Duncan Pay. “This scholarship grant will help DCA members and their employees work toward GIA diplomas, building on the foundation of their DCA education.”

For more information about DCA or to become a member, visit www.diamondcouncil.org.

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