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What One Jeweler Learned About Trying to Do Everything Herself

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Yes, when you hire others to help you, you might think they don’t work as fast or as well as you do, but guess what? That’s OK. You can’t do it all, and it frees you to think about the business overall, maybe try new things, who knows? Eve J. Alfille, Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, Evanston, IL


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

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That Weird ‘Diamond in a Diamond’ Isn’t for Sale. It Will Go Here Instead …

Alrosa revealed the find in September.

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RUSSIA’S ALROSA DIAMOND mining company announced Thursday that the curious “diamond in a diamond” revealed on social media in early September has been added to its collection of rare finds — and is not for sale.

In early September, Alrosa surprised its Instagram followers with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond moving freely in the cavity of a larger one (pictured above). The caption read, “A diamond in a diamond? We couldn’t help but share this very special find with you.”

At the time, Alrosa wasn’t quite sure what to make of the phenomenon. Nobody at the mining company had ever seen anything like it. Five weeks later, Alrosa scientists confirmed that both the host and smaller crystal were diamonds.

They named the double-diamond “Matryoshka” because its strange configuration is reminiscent of the popular Russian nesting dolls. The specimen, which weighs only 0.62 carats, was discovered in Yakutia at Alrosa’s Nyurba mining and processing division.

Matryoshka joins Alrosa’s ever-growing collection of diamond wonders. These include crystals that resemble a soccer ball, a Valentine heart, a skull and a fish.

Interestingly, some of Alrosa’s most unusually shaped diamonds have come to light at the most opportune times.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram. Soccer ball image by Pumbaa80 (Self-published work by Pumbaa80) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

For instance, an Alrosa discovery in July of 2018 had us wondering out loud if Mother Nature was a World Cup soccer fan. Just three days prior to the Russian national soccer team’s exciting quarterfinal match against Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Alrosa discovered a diamond that looks amazingly like a soccer ball.

In February of 2019, Alrosa revealed a 65.7-carat rough diamond that had an uncanny resemblance to a Valentine heart.

“Diamonds of a distinctive shape that resemble some object or symbol are extremely rare in nature,” Alrosa’s deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev said at the time. “Most rough diamonds are octahedron-shaped or do not have a particular shape at all. The appearance of a heart-shaped rough diamond, especially on the eve of Valentine’s Day, seems to be a symbolic gift of nature not only to our company, but also to all loving couples.”

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram.

Alrosa noted that a 24-carat, skull-shaped stone was unearthed prior to Halloween in 2018.

In August of 2019, the company posted to Instagram a photo of a rough stone resembling a fish. It had been discovered back in 2002, and was revisited to help promote the firm’s ecology efforts, which include releasing hundreds of thousands of fish into the rivers near its mining operation in Yakutia.

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The Thing About Trunk Shows That Nobody Ever Told You

Our Brain Squad weighs in on what they wish they had known.

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  • You will be surprised at what people will buy … — Roger Pauling, Lapidary Arts Custom Jewelry, Plano, TX
  • Sometimes having the sales rep in the store can hurt. Especially when they are not familiar with your business style and clients. I once had a client who was not clicking with the sales rep that was assisting ask my salesperson, “Am I dealing with you or him?” Reps need to be told the barriers in your store. They can be too pushy and turn retail clients off, especially if they do not have a retail background. Now, I make sure a sales rep is the right fit for our culture before they can work with my clients. — Eric Stevens, Stevens Diamond Jewelers, West Springfield, MA
  • Like everything else in life, you get out of them what you put into them. A strong, coordinated team effort will yield positive results. If the effort is not there, the success will not be there either. Additionally, you can’t always count on the designer’s attendance to make a difference. It is you, the inviting salesperson, that they are truly coming to see. — Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA
  • I have found that many companies’ salespeople are far less driven than me. I have had 76 trunk shows in 31 years and have found a select few that always show up, stay the entire day and help rather than demand concessions. — Corrie Brown, Parkhill Jewelry, Ephrata, PA
  • That you are wise to get groups involved because people are more likely to show when they know others are going. — Cathy Miller, Caleesi Designs Jewelers, Austin, TX
  • Sometimes the vendor will send us their crap unless we specify. — Meg Rankin, J. Rankin Jewellers, Edmonds, WA
  • Don’t let the husbands have too many cocktails, otherwise a 10-carat yellow diamond tennis bracelet can wind up in said cocktail. LOL. — Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT
  • That if the designer is not a great salesperson, it really becomes a painful experience. We do better with brands that send us a trunk for an event than having a wishy-washy presence on our sales floor. There are certain designer brands who send a rep and that almost never works. We plan events, not just “trunk shows,” because our clientele does not appreciate being hard-sold. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Unless you advertise it months in advance, no one shows up. — Chris Wattsson, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI
  • They are a lot of work and the payoff is good, but it often comes after the actual trunk show in the form of increased business for the brand. — Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL
  • How complicated they can get. — Allan Uyesugi, AA Jewel Box, Tustin, CA
  • Find something new and different. Exciting. Invite only a few exclusive clients. Make it special. We used our conference room, served a light lunch, mimosas, etc. Do not do the same show over and over again year after year. It’s boring for the staff and the customers. — Georgena Kincaid, Gold Casters Fine Jewelry, Bloomington, IN
  • Lots of pre-marketing and calling clients … very time-consuming. — Michael Freed, Palmer’s Jewelry, Kokomo, IN
  • The vendor is very disappointed if you do not sell a lot of items. Customers are not as interested as you would like. But we still do them. — Linda Brown, Heritage Jewelers, Shelbyville, TN
  • I love trunk shows if you are partnered with the right vendor. They have to do their part to promote their product, too. If you and the vendor work together to promote the show, it will be a success. — Annette Evans, RD Allen Freeport Jewelers, Freeport, ME
  • The most effective way to get customers there is the old-fashioned telephone invitation, not just advertising. — Georgie Gleim, Gleim The Jeweler, Palo Alto, CA
  • Don’t let the designer or the company tell you how to run your show or display your merchandise. You know your clientele and your layout. Help them fit into your mix. Advertise, then call, then email and let your customers know what you’re doing for their benefit! — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • You gain a ton of new customers! Trunk shows attract people that have never considered your store. Also, the new customers tend to become your most loyal customers. — Erica Lorenz, Michael & Sons, Reno, NV
  • I stopped doing them a long time ago as the salesmen were not knowledgeable, were unprepared, and often brought product they wanted to get rid of and not what our clientele was looking for. Nobody told me to prepare for those contingencies. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Upping the Game: Why Dubai Watch Week is the Perfect Example of How to Run a Fair

A key factor: There’s no pressure to buy or sell.

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WATCHMAKING CLASSES TAUGHT by Swiss masters. Luxury hotel rooms at the new Waldorf Astoria. Daily gourmet breakfasts. Seven limited-edition timepieces being released. Three-course lunches in a Cipriani pop-up. Thirteen education panels featuring world-renowned speakers. An international press squad representing over 45 media titles. And Jean-Claude Biver dropping knowledge and signing books. Any one of these would be enough to raise the level at most watch-related trade shows or fairs, but when you combine them and place them into a setting like Dubai, the result is almost unfathomable. Unless, of course, you lived it, which is exactly what I was privileged enough to do just over a week ago.

For the third year in a row, I was invited by the team at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Dubai Watch Week to attend a horological event they were organizing. Two years ago, it was to visit the third edition of Dubai Watch Week in Dubai as a member of the press. Last year, it was an event they were holding in London in collaboration with Christie’s Auction House called “Horology Forum.” I was asked to be one of five panel moderators for that event; an honor which I never thought could be matched. That is, until this year when again I was invited by DWW to moderate the final panel, entitled “Hot Potato.” Each of my experiences has been extraordinary.

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The No. 1 characteristic that separates Dubai Watch Week from any other watch fair (or jewelry event, for that matter) is that there is no pressure to buy or sell. In the U.S., the closest we have to that experience is the American Gem Society Conclave, which I’ve often compared to Dubai Watch Week on an education level. But in terms of pulling in a worldwide audience that includes watch brands, retailers, collectors, journalists, scientists, speakers and skilled artisans, there is no other fair that can hold a candle to this one, and the other watch fairs know it.

In 2017, I left Dubai thinking to myself that I had just left the most organized event I’d ever attended. In my mind it was flawless, leaving very little room for improvement, and yet when I stepped onto the impeccably pristine grounds of the DIFC this year I was flabbergasted. It was not just grander from a visual standpoint, but the program itself read like perfection. Panel topics at the “Horology Forum” covered everything from how smart watches are affecting today’s watch sales, to what really happens when you’re put on a waiting list for a watch, to how women come to power in fields largely dominated by men, to how industry outsiders (like award-winning actor Aldis Hodge and quantum physicist Michael Biercuk) are finding their place in the watch community. Attendees were also treated to events held in the “Creative Hub,” where several watch brands discussed their histories and where some even released new limited-edition timepieces in conjunction with Dubai Watch Week. Watchmaking classes were taught in a separate pop-up venue, as well as classes on watch design, dial painting, engraving and more. Christie’s even had its own auction room on premises where one could attend talks on topics such as the restoration of timepieces and why vintage Patek Philippes are so sought after. And, because DWW gets it, there was a children’s program. Yes … an actual children’s program! Because let’s face it, kids will eventually determine the success of the watch industry, both as future buyers and as future artisans, so why not teach them how special watchmaking is now, right?

As the days turned into nights, the festivities didn’t slow down. There were cocktail events by Tudor, Grand Seiko, Ulysse Nardin, HYT, Bell & Ross, Roger Dubuis, Girard Perregaux and others. Oh, and if you tired of any of those, Chopard pretty much had its own nightclub set up, complete with a well-known Dubai D. J. and plenty of industry personalities.

These days, as an almost-47-year-old woman, I feel that the older I get the harder I am to impress. I’ve done a lot in my life, and I’ve seen even more, so when something comes along that is special – truly special – I sit up and take notice, and often will do my best to tell the world about it. This is exactly what Dubai Watch Week makes me want to do. Everyone from their smiling security guards, to their wonderful public relations and press teams, all the way up to Hind Seddiqi – the director general of Dubai Watch Week – went out of their way to make sure that every person in attendance was taken care of, and that everyone had an experience unlike any other. Hind and her entire team succeeded in accomplishing that, yet again, which makes me wonder how the 2021 edition could possibly get any better. Although, seeing what the DWW organizers have been capable of so far, I’m sure it will be otherworldly.

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