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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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Gene Shows His Competitive Spirit ... and It's Not Pretty

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene answers a viewer question: “It looks like you have a laser welder in your shop. Should I get one?” Gene suspects he knows who sent the query. He’s not pleased. In fact, the situation brings out the worst of Gene’s competitive spirit.

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Press Releases

OROAREZZO 2019 Is Ready

This year also reaches the milestone of its 40th anniversary.

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(PRESS RELEASE) – Everything is ready for the next edition of OROAREZZO, the event that promotes the best Italian goldsmithing production internationally, which this year reaches the important milestone of the 40th anniversary.

The quintessential appointment of the Made in Italy goldsmithing sector, managed by Italian Exhibition Group and scheduled from April 6th to 9th at Arezzo Fiere e Congressi, brings together some of the best Italian manufacturing companies through exhibitions dedicated to jewelry, silverware, semi-finished products and stones.

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Innovation, stylistic and technological research; state-of-the-art products that, according to tradition, follow the rules of industrial production.

These summarize the distinctive features of the proposals that will be presented at OROAREZZO.

Tradition and innovation are combined, for example, with the elegance and quality of Coar’s creations, which stands out on the market for both massive and empty chains that come to life through the various phases of the production process: from casting to continuous casting passing from threading to beating to diamonding and silvering.

Constant innovation in products and production techniques is the basis of the jewels produced by Giordini which uses electroforming, a complex procedure that requires numerous steps and the use of latest-generation machinery. This production technique is the only one that allows the creation of voluminous, articulated forms, with a sculptural plasticity, moved in space and at the same time extremely light.

An innovative nanotechnology treatment for silver that constantly maintains its natural splendor characterizes the silver chains of Karizia Spa which also offers models with customized “sliding components”.

Even more traditional proposals, albeit in a “modern” and revisited perspective, will be presented at OROAREZZO 2019: from the most beautiful hand-engraved cameos on shells of Cameo Italiano -company from Torre del Greco – which was able to reinvent the cameo jewelry design dissolving the boundaries between classic jewelry and current fashion, to arrive at the contemporary tradition of Golden Corals jewels, where coral and cameo are the common thread that links the many collections of jewelery and bijoux.

The event also includes dedicated areas such as Cash & Carry, a dynamic and innovative space that offers companies the opportunity to sell to the market or the Tech area, which will occupy an entire pavilion, dedicated to more technological processing systems.

Here we will alternate specialized machinery for the deformation and transformation of metal of various kinds as well as equipment for stamping and cutting, such as the solutions proposed by the company STIL MEC, as well as technologically advanced scanners and 3D printers, for which 3DZ – the leading company in the sector – stands out.

In addition to important names such as Sisma, Fabo, CIMO, Italimpianti, Ombi, the proposals by Legor Group stand out, specializing in the two complementary worlds of metallurgy and metal chemistry for jewelry and fashion, which will present new innovative alloys at OROAREZZO. a galvanic process of white bronze for surface finishing, particularly relevant for the Fashion Accessories sector.

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Press Releases

Silver Promotion Service Survey Shows 10th Consecutive Year of Silver Jewelry Sales Growth

Younger consumers proved to be key demographic with gifting and female self-purchase as the best selling opportunities.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — Silver jewelry sales in the United States were strong in 2018 with 52% of jewelry retailers reporting increased sales according to a survey conducted on behalf of the Silver Institute’s Silver Promotion Service (SPS). The results also confirmed that silver jewelry continues to be a leading merchandise category for retailers, both in driving sales and providing margin.

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Highlights from the 2018 survey include:

  • The average store growth in 2018 for silver jewelry sales was 16%.
  • Retailers said their silver jewelry sales, as a percentage of their overall jewelry sales, were on average 24% of their unit volume and 18% of their dollar volume.
  • 51% said silver experienced the best inventory turnover rate in 2018; 12% said diamond; 14% said bridal and 12% gold.

The best maintained margins during the Holiday Season were:

  • Silver Jewelry 40%
  • Diamond Jewelry 23%
  • Bridal Jewelry 17%
  • Gold Jewelry 15%
  • Platinum Jewelry 5%
  • 84% of retailers say they are optimistic that silver jewelry sales will continue to grow.

SPS Director Michael Barlerin commented, “The Silver Promotion Service is obviously gratified by what the survey demonstrated. We are also enthused that the optimism for silver’s ongoing performance remains so strong.” The survey, conducted by INSTORE, was fielded in February this year. This was the tenth consecutive year that SPS has commissioned such a survey.

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Press Releases

Diamond Producers Association Announces New Diamond E-Learning Program

It gives retailers the tools and language to become true storytellers.

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(PRESS RELEASE) The Diamond Producers Association announces the launch of a new e-learning program for diamonds, “Behind the Brilliance of Diamonds.” Developed to help all U.S. retailers, the hour-long program – split into three informative modules – offers educational material and quizzes, going beyond the 4Cs to highlight the intangible value of natural diamonds, billion-year-old treasures of the earth.

“The Diamond Producers Association’s e-learning program, ‘Behind the Brilliance of Diamonds,’ offers a clear and concise, open platform for the industry,” said Grant Mobley, DPA’s trade relations lead. “Whether you have been working with diamonds for one day or 20 years, the program relates compelling stories about the history of natural diamonds, easy-to-digest and well-researched facts, and memorable details about the important benefits that the natural diamond industry makes to the world.”

The initial beta launch has yielded positive feedback.

“Getting back to basics, often we get so caught up in the technical aspects of our career that we forget the emotional aspect. Thank you for bringing the reality of relationship-selling back to the forefront,” said Cheryl Worcester of Days Jewelers.

Pierre Soucy of Robert Richer added, “I think this is both a timely and much needed program made easy and readily available for the industry by the DPA. In the past decade the jewelry industry (as a whole) has much neglected relationships between products, partners, and how they relate to the public. This program is a big gesture in bridging that void.”

“The DPA’s e-learning program should be required for everyone that sells diamonds,” said Phillip Bosen of Bosen Associates.

In addition to the training program being free, there are rewards for retail sales people who complete the program. Points are awarded for each module completed and can be redeemed for up to a $25 gift card to one of several popular retailers.

Retail sales associates who complete the program will also be entered to win a grand prize for an all- expenses paid trip for two to New York City. Valued at $4,000, the trip will offer exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the New York diamond industry, including a personal tour of a diamond cutting facility. The drawing will take place in the fall.

Visit www.diamondproducers.com/tradeportal to access the e-learning platform.

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