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The De Beers Decision, Show Woes and More of Your Letters from July




De Beers: Helping or Hurting?

It is clear by the actions they have taken that De Beers is extremely scared of what lab-grown diamonds could do to their natural diamond business. But I hope that what they’ve done doesn’t spark a civil war that severely damages the diamond business as a whole. According to a number of sources that I know well in the diamond growing industry, unless De Beers has some proprietary process that is unknown to the rest of the industry, they cannot grow diamonds profitably and sell them at the prices they are advertising. So I think their aim is clearly to drive the growers out of business and then control the lab-grown market themselves, a strategy they have used often in the past.

I hope they know what they’re doing because I don’t think the growers will stand by idly and watch De Beers destroy their business. A new advertising campaign that depicts the dark side of the diamond business may be on the horizon. De Beers may be able to destroy the lab-grown business, but the lab-grown industry could go a long way toward destroying the natural diamond market. Millennials and other socially-conscious consumers won’t react well to a new campaign featuring severed limbs, gaping pit mines and the real truth about the “rarity” of natural diamond. The control that De Beers has had over the diamond market has been a huge benefit to jewelry retailers for generations, but their hostile approach to this new challenge may be the death knell for the diamond business as we know it. Robert Smith, E.M. Smith Jewelers, Chillicothe, Ohio

Time for Change

I think the industry reflects society in general. We were once a very tight knit industry and a bit staid. Now things are wide open, very diverse and opportunities abound and are there for people willing to adapt and accept change. It is a difficult process, but that’s why it’s called “work”! Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA

Brain Squad Benefits

Joining the Brain Squad has been immensely helpful! It brings exciting new ideas and changes that customers are loving! We now use the surveys to open store meetings and bounce around ideas. Linda McEathron, Design House, Waco, TX

Leave the Mall

If you’re a successful independent jeweler in a mall, GET OUT!! You’re doomed. If you decide to stay, get a good lawyer and negotiate a super lease with plenty of escape clauses. And remember, in an enclosed mall environment nowadays, you are in the driver’s seat. J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA

Light Bulbs Galore

I love the humor you infuse in your magazine. Also, the truly good ideas that you share are helpful. I hope you’ll repeat yourself because seriously, where good ideas and inspiration are shared, light bulbs go off in our minds and we change things bit by bit for the better. And a great idea three years ago that went over our head can now roost and percolate and birth a better business element. I love to be inspired and you do that. Monthly. Calla Gold, Calla Gold Jewelry, Santa Barbara, CA

Division Is Bad

The debate about lab-grown diamonds seems to divide the industry a bit. It really shouldn’t, but it does. I don’t think anything gets accomplished while badmouthing others. Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA

Who Needs Shows?

With a number of shows now over, I have seen several articles about lower traffic and lower sales at the shows. Some writers say it could be the location (JCK at Mandalay Bay) while others wonder if it is poor business and yet others say it is due to how many shows there are. I believe the industry has hit a tipping point. The cost of carrying inventory does not make for a decent business model when the capital cost is so high. Often, brick-and-mortar stores are nothing more than showrooms for brands. These brands compete with the stores they sell to via online sales. Then add the number of suppliers that want a brick-and-mortar store to buy their goods while cutting us off at the knees by selling to online discounters. Each of these take a bite out of our business and beg the question, “Why attend a show to buy product?” So we can incur debt? Retailers have been closing their doors at an alarming rate. Soon suppliers and brands will as well as they have fewer doors to sell to. When these suppliers have only online sources to sell to and the margins are less and less, they will feel the same pinch retailers are now. And so the tipping point is here for shows. As a retailer, do I need them? No. The trade show is a window on the retailer’s world. And suppliers that sell to any channel are at the root of the issue. “Never seek to know for whom the bell tolls…” David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewelers, Calgary, Alberta

We’re Still Here

We opened our first store in July of 1989 in the Virgin Islands. September of that year, we were hit hard by Hurricane Hugo. We overcame storms, recessions, terrorist threats and here we still are, almost 30 years later, and still doing what we love. Hats off to the mom-and-pops of America for providing service and incredible shopping experiences. Yes the Internet , the government, the state of the world has taken the wind out of our sales (I meant to misspell that); we still prevail. Christina O’Hara, Blue Mountain Gems, Roanoke, VA

Great to Be a Jeweler

Just read your magazine. Love getting it and reading all the great stories. Downsizing from three stores to one has been the best thing we have done. Closing two mall stores was a blessing in disguise. Bigger is not better. Thanks for letting us retail jewelers speak our piece. A lot of great things about our business we become somewhat of a psychologist getting to know customers who enjoy jewels, something they can pass down from generation to generation. I am 79 years old and nothing thrilled me more than like today when a 72 year old gentleman walked into our downtown store, bought himself a fine Rolex watch and proudly said, “I have been wanting a Rolex since I was 21 years old.” He made the purchase and wore the $12,000 Rolex out the door. We are lucky to share in these great stories each and every day! Teddie Gause, Gause & Son Jewelers, Ocala, FL

Love to Learn

I like your story choice. I like to learn and be entertained. Ernie Cummings, Kizer Cummings Jewelers, Lawrence, KS

Looking Forward to Instore

I haven’t had a chance yet to read it but am excited to relax and take it all in. Thank you for a wonderful publication. I absolutely love INSTORE. Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA

Common Ground

Keep up the good work. I love reading about the day-to-day challenges of other jewelers. Joseph Villarreal, Villarreal Fine Jewelers, Austin, TX

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of INSTORE.       

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Downsizing? Wilkerson Is Here to Help

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

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