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Former counselor takes the helm at Brand Jewelry

Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers Celebrates 125 Years

After a 24-year career in family counseling, Heather Cain got the change she needed when she bought Brand Jewelry: “Every day feels like a vacation,” says the newly minted jewelry retailer.

A jewelry store with 125 years under its belt has experienced a lot of national history and made much of its own history in the Midwest. Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers opened its doors in 1899. The store has weathered many tumultuous storms, from the passing of leadership figures to a merger with a competitor during the Great Depression, and expanding to a second store after World War II. And that was just the first 50 years.

A fixture for some 53 years in Wilkesboro, N.C., the business began as Brand Jewelers and Distributors, offering a catalog showroom under founder Bob Yale. His son J. Paul Yale, who grew up working for his father, bought the business in 1991 and renamed it Brand Jewelry & Gifts. After 33 years, Paul Yale announced his plan to retire, and toward the end of 2023, he began the process of liquidation. He was ready to close the store for good - complete with a heavily publicized going-outof-business sale.

Cain was contemplating a big change - either full retirement or a move into a different field. During a conversation about the closing of the jewelry store, a friend suggested Cain talk to Yale about purchasing the store from him. The plan started to come together.

Heather’s grandmother had also been in the jewelry industry in the 1950s, and had instilled a love of stones, jewelry, and embellishment.

“When the founder passed, they went on to form their own jewelry store,” says Charlie Dixon, president of SchwankeKasten Jewelers. “Probably, and this is speculation, because another family member would take over so they decided to form their own jewelry company selling everything from classic jewelry items – necklaces, brooches, pins, bracelets, rings, pocket watches, to silverware and even cut-glass, eye glasses and even sportingevent tickets.”

“My background as a counselor taught me the importance of celebrating sparkling moments - we need to commemorate the milestones in our lives,” Cain says. She was excited about the marriage of her two passions.

Years later, William Schwanke opened a store under his name. William moved his store across the street from Alsted-Kasten Company.

Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers started out as Alsted-Kasten Company in 1899. The company founders, Charles J. Kasten, Hans P. Alsted and G.E.G. Kuechle, left Christian Preusser Jewelry Company following the death of the company’s owner.

Behind the scenes, though, a little magic was happening.

The two stores “held a natural but respectable rivalry,” according to Charlie. This lasted for many years. But as the founding members began to age, and the ef-

Please see Brand page 4

“Paul and I met and talked it over on a Friday, and I went back and met him Monday and came to an agreement, sealed with a handshake. It was an undeniably great fit.”

fects of the Great Depression impacted cities and towns across the nation, the competitors became partners.

And, the name Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers was born.

Charles Kasten, son of founder C.J. Kasten, was president and William Schwanke was the vicepresident.

The strategic alliance that allowed them to weather through the Great Depression was most likely the key decision that kept the doors open and the lights on. Four years after the end of World War II, business was booming for

All smiles on opening day. (L-R) Cheyenne Clonch, Donna Kruckenberg, Bobby Minton, Heather Cain (owner), Jamie Owings, Heather Johnson, Kattie Blackburn.

Color Me Collector

Color Me Collector

“Collecting is a fundamental aspect of human existence that has served to enable and enhance our evolution, offering both material and emotional value to us as individuals and communities,” wrote Professor Andrew Dillon in a column for Art Basel last year.

“Collecting is a fundamental aspect of human existence that has served to enable and enhance our evolution, offering both material and emotional value to us as individuals and communities,” wrote Professor Andrew Dillon in a column for Art Basel last year.

Dillon, a professor at The University of Texas, School of Information in Austin, described a collection as offering “life support over time, a means of trading, a basis for community and communication, a stockpile of wealth, and a mechanism of self-identity… a basis for informing and learning, providing emotional comfort and security, and marking our lives in personally meaningful ways.”

Dillon, a professor at The University of Texas, School of Information in Austin, described a collection as offering “life support over time, a means of trading, a basis for community and communication, a stockpile of wealth, and a mechanism of self-identity… a basis for informing and learning, providing emotional comfort and security, and marking our lives in personally meaningful ways.”

Regardless of the things collected, from fine art to pop star memorabilia, Dillon found consistent shared motivations for the behavior, including emotions, identity, value, and desire for connection. His words resonate as discussions arose in seminars at the recent AGTA Tucson GemFair about the opportunities colored stones offer jewelers to nurture their clients’ collector mentality.

Regardless of the things collected, from fine art to pop star memorabilia, Dillon found consistent shared motivations for the behavior, including emotions, identity, value, and desire for connection. His words resonate as discussions arose in seminars at the recent AGTA Tucson GemFair about the opportunities colored stones offer jewelers to nurture their clients’ collector mentality.

The Big Picture

The Big Picture

Lab grown diamonds or LGD to some, are a huge global industry. The most casual shopper knows what a laboratory created diamond is today - and if asked, they can rattle off its top attribute, with something like, “identical to a natural diamond.” Their disruption to the traditional diamond sector was propelled by their beauty and more affordable prices than earth mined diamonds.

Lab grown diamonds or LGD to some, are a huge global industry. The most casual shopper knows what a laboratory created diamond is today - and if asked, they can rattle off its top attribute, with something like, “identical to a natural diamond.” Their disruption to the traditional diamond sector was propelled by their beauty and more affordable prices than earth mined diamonds.

It is true that their physical, optical, and chemical properties mirror those of natural diamonds, with the exception of how they were formed in a lab rather than underground over a period of billions of years. And it differs in that it requires a tiny diamond starter seed to begin the process.

It is true that their physical, optical, and chemical properties mirror those of natural diamonds, with the exception of how they were formed in a lab rather than underground over a period of billions of years. And it differs in that it requires a tiny diamond starter seed to begin the process.

News to Shoppers

News to Shoppers

Gen Z shoppers and other diamond consumers today benefit from the ongoing evolution of this technology. Nowadays, a consumer can pretty much buy whatever lab diamond shape and carat size they dream up. Lab grown diamonds have become

Gen Z shoppers and other diamond consumers today benefit from the ongoing evolution of this technology. Nowadays, a consumer can pretty much buy whatever lab diamond shape and carat size they dream up. Lab grown diamonds have become

“We have a basic human instinct to collect,” said gem wholesaler, bespoke designer and educator Cynthia Marcusson for the Cary, North Carolina-based Cynthia Reneé, on a panel imparting strategies to captivate clients, foster relationships and maximize sales.

“We have a

“We have a basic human instinct to collect,” said gem wholesaler, bespoke designer and educator Cynthia Marcusson for the Cary, North Carolina-based Cynthia Reneé, on a panel imparting strategies to captivate clients, foster relationships and maximize sales. “We have a

Please see Color page 34

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Vol 37 No. 6 June 2024
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Inside Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers Kimberly Collins Gem Jewelry Factory with diamond growing machines. Photo Robert Haack Diamonds
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Continued from page 3

Continued from page 3

Already in the middle of the close-out process, Yale went forward with his sale, liquidating 90 percent of his inventory and leaving Cain a month to freshen up the store with paint and new lighting and select a mix of legacy favorites and new offerings to sell.

Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers. So much so that a second location was opened on East Silver Spring Drive in 1949.

The successes that allowed for the expansion were most likely the conclusion of WWII and the beginning of the Baby Boomer Generation, along with the reputation that was built up over 50 years, says Charlie. “William Schwanke and Alsted Kasten were both very involved in various social clubs and professional trade organizations in Milwaukee.”

“Paul’s last day was Valentine’s Day, and we reopened March 12. It was a soft opening, because I wanted to go to the Atlanta Jewelry Show to pick out new products before we had a grand reopening,” Cain recalls. “The Atlanta show was fabulous, and it wasn’t long enough! With so much to learn, I just wanted to soak up as much knowledge as I could, while building connections with vendors and other retailers.”

Then, as now, retailers strategically choose second locations for market expansion and sales growth. In 1949, the leaders of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers were one of the first retail tenants in the Fox Bay Building. The then new building was mainly an office building with some retail on the street level. And, the building was located in Whitefish Bay, a robust community on Milwaukee’s North Shore.

The grand reopening ran April 17-27, with daily drawings and countless legacy customers among the shoppers. A local mailman won the grand-prize drawing, a diamond necklace, donated by Samuel Spil & Co. The ribbon cutting and grand reopening was quite a success.

“Whitefish Bay is a nice community which many families from the North Shore of Milwaukee were commuting from, to downtown, so it may have made sense as to why they decided to move to Whitefish Bay,” says Charlie.

com Dixon took ownership. Tragically, his tenure as the store’s owner was over in two short years after a fatal car accident.

“The town mayor said it was the biggest turnout he had witnessed for a business’s grand opening,” Cain says. “Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, with refreshments and fellowship, while checking out all the new facets of the store.”

cision of turning adversity into opportunity. When the building came up for sale across the street, Tom decided to purchase it. From that day forward Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers has called 417 East Silver Spring Drive home.

Even former Brand employee and one-time jewelry maker Tiffney Willens showed support, volunteering to help Yale on his closing day. Wilkesboro’s other major jeweler, Michael Parsons of Michael’s Jewelry, attended appeal to customers of all types and make everybody of any socioeconomic status feel welcome.

lie joined the family business.

ond-story addition,” says Charlie. “Awards were presented to us by The Boston Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects [Wisconsin Chapter], both awarded our architects [LA Dallman].”

Awards were bestowed upon the family based on the massive undertaking to completely transform the high-end jewelry store. The addition was years in the making, coordinating with contractors, inspectors, banks, the SBA, and their business improvement district.

“We looked at the everchanging retail environment and realized that shoppers, who are becoming more and more comfortable with shopping online would prefer to have an experience if they decide to shop at a

trunk shows. But it is a nice way to really get to know your client beyond the sales floor.”

For the next decade the business enjoyed much in terms of growth and prosperity. In 1957, William Schwanke died. His wife Mercedes Schwanke took over store operations until 1982. That was the year her nephew and long-time store employee Mal-

Malcom’s wife Patricia, and their children William, Patty, Jim, Brad and Tom, all “stepped up at one point or another,” says Charlie. “Tom, the youngest son, eventually bought out his family to retain sole ownership. He’s currently the store’s owner and CEO.”

Cain continues to appreciate the loyalty and support of her rural community.

“Not a day goes by without a customer saying, we are so happy you opened Brand back up!”

school, stayed on and is willing to mentor a second jeweler she hopes to hire when the time comes. She also hopes her son will do a summer internship, learning from Minton and his 20plus years of experience.

In 2023, the main showroom was remodeled - just in time for festivities in the fourth quarter of 2024, the official 125th anniversary occurs in early November. Over the years, Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers has also earned industry recognition as well as local accolades and commissioned works that have secured a century-plus legacy in the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin.

The 3,000-square-foot space has a jewelry repair shop and an ear-piercing station, and Cain plans to convert an office into a consultation room to use while working with clients on custom designs. Also in her plans are an online/internet sales component; social media enhancements, possibly to include a blog; and an educational feature.

Cain says everyone who comes into the store has a story, and she has witnessed the importance of finding the positive, identifying and celebrating the sparkling moments in people’s lives.

“Tom is still the owner and CEO, he had gone through other big changes between the sudden passing of his father and within several years taking over as president in the early 1990s, to moving the store to its current address to this one,” says Charlie. “His idea with this, as he begins to contemplate retirement was to set this store up for success for the next 25 years and for me to understand this and hopefully set it up beyond 150 years. At this point, it is less our business and more of building on a legacy, and continuing it for the generations of families who have shopped with us and gone to us to celebrate those special moments in life.”

In 2003, a massive fire occurred in the building across the street from the family jewelry store. Extinguishing the fire caused much in terms of water damage to the store. Tom had to make the classic leadership de-

To that end, she has expanded colored gemstones, pearls, and turquoise, while maintaining the selection of gold, silver, and diamonds loyal customers have come to expect from Brand. She has broadened men’s jewelry beyond wedding bands; and added a stainless-steel jewelry line that her 15-year-old son suggested



Established 1988

Editor, Bill Newnam

Editor, Bill Newnam



Publisher, Chris Smith

Publisher, Chris Smith



Administration and classified advertising

Administration and classified advertising

Martha Osswald


Martha Osswald martha@southernjewelrynews.com

Staff Writers

Staff Writers

Wanda Freeman

Wanda Freeman

Paul Holewa

Paul Holewa

Dianna Jarrett

Diana Jarrett

Deborah Yonick

Deborah Yonick

Vice President Sales

Vice President Sales

Elesa B. Dillon

Elesa B. Dillon



Contributing Writers

Contributing Writers

Diana Jarrett

Diana Jarrett

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson

Mia Katrin

Mia Katrin

Chuck Koehler

Chuck Koehler

Joel McFadden

Joel McFadden

Patrick McMillan

Patrick McMillan

Guy Pineda

Guy Pineda

George Prout

George Prout

Mid-America Jewelry News

Southern Jewelry News

2006 New Garden Road - Suite 208

2006 New Garden Road - Suite 208

Greensboro, NC 27410

Greensboro, NC 27410

Phone: 336-389-1950

Phone: 336-389-1950

Fax: 336-389-1952

Fax: 336-389-1952



email: info@southernjewelrynews.com

email: info@southernjewelrynews.com

Any views or opinions presented in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Mid-America Jewelry News.

Any views or opinions presented in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Southern Jewelry News.

As Tom is contemplating retirement in the coming years, Charlie will one day take the helm. This would officially make him Generation 4.0 (William Schwanke is Charlie’s great-great uncle).

- and which proved amazingly popular - as well as other teenfriendly pieces such as promise rings, and jewelry for children and babies. She offers a collection of estate pieces and an unexpectedly popular collection of gold and silver bullion.

Cain has acquired several new lines of merchandise, including watches by Glock, the firearms maker, which she says

With Gen 4.0 firmly in place, and a major milestone anniversary on the horizon, it was time for some change. “In 2022, we completed an award-winning sec-

highlight local talent in the store.

As for personnel, Cain says everybody who wanted to stay on was welcome, and two full-timers took the offer: Jamie Owings, floor manager, helped through the transition from an antiquated point-of-sale system to an up-todate one. Jeweler Bobby Minton, whom Cain has known since high

“So, we created this lounge environment equipped with a full kitchen, dining room, bar and lounge area to be able to sit down with clients, deliver very special jewelry and watches, design jewelry for special occasions, even pick-out engagement rings. We can host wonderful events such as small client dinners and jewelry

“My career has shown me both the worst and the best in people, and most importantly the resilience of the human spirit to forgive, heal, and move forward. I have such gratitude to have the opportunity to offer a space where that spirit is celebrated. It is an honor to be a small part in celebrating their stories - getting engaged, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. As a Wilkes County native, I am quite sentimental about the connections in our community. I am blessed to have the opportunity to carry forward the legacy of Brand Jewelry and continue to offer quality jewelry with small-town service!”

With the official anniversary coming the day after the election in November, Tom, Charlie and their staff are planning a big event later that month. They plan on going back through designs created in-house over the years and bringing back special one-of-a-kind collections. “These collections will be unveiled at our anniversary events in November,” says Charlie.

4 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Southern Jewelry News Mid-America Jewelry News
The grand reopening of Brand Jewelry was a huge success.
Heather with previous owner Paul Yale at the Atlanta Jewelry Show.
Southern Jewelry News Mid-America Jewelry News Established 1988
Store owner and CEO Tom Dixon with his son, store president and next in line at the helm, Charlie. Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers - thriving for 125 years. Photo Kevin J. Miyazaki Award winning multi-purpose upstairs lounge area.
Photo Kevin J. Miyazaki

The Retailer’s Perspective

What a weird bubble we live in

I wanted to title this column ‘Adhesive Stickers are not our Friend’. But, as I thought about it, I realized that wouldn’t begin to cover everything that I want to talk about today. In a nutshell, what I do want to discuss is all of the weird things that we do in this business that no other business has to do. Let’s start with adhesive stickers.

On more than one occasion, I’ve had to nearly fight it out with the person behind the Publix bakery counter. I like to occasionally buy a dessert, as a lunch treat, from their deli case. They take

out the big tray, and then place the dessert I’ve chosen into that plastic clamshell container thingy. Then, they punch some buttons on that machine that spits out an adhesive sticker with 1,000 words on it (ingredients), plus the price and the barcode. It’s here that I ask them to not put the sticker on the package, I’ll just carry it. And that’s where the trouble starts.

I tell them that I don’t want the sticker on the package. They tell me they have to put it on the package. I tell them they don’t, they can be left separate. They say no. I say yes. They put the sticker on the package anyway. I tell them that I don’t want it now

and walk away. Now they have to figure out how to cancel that sticker for inventory purposes. Me, I just skip dessert that day and will try again tomorrow. But why do I do that?

Adhesive stickers have one big advantage, and one big disadvantage. The advantage is they stick to almost anything. The disadvantage is almost everything sticks to them. When you work in an industry where everything that you handle is relatively small, and extremely expensive, random adhesive stickers lying around become a problem.

How many times have you had to go through your trash to find that missing ring or missing diamond? Have you ever found what you were looking for stuck to a random sticker that was in your store? I have! Hence, no more random adhesive stickers lying around. If I do get one in my shop, I first look it over to make sure nothing is stuck to it, and then I’ll roll it into a little ball, and squirt it with Windex to kill any adhesion left. No diamonds are gonna get stuck to that little ball and get thrown out with trash. As I said earlier, Adhesive stickers are not our friend!

But, my/our weirdness doesn’t stop there; it applies to all of the trash cans in my store. I currently have 9 trash receptacles around my store. Nothing that can rot, stink, or decay is allowed in 8 of them. Leftovers, soda cans, used napkins, paper plates, etc. can only go in one. And that one trash receptacle is in an area that never has jewelry anywhere near it. That’s the trash can I empty into the dumpster every day or so. It’s also the only one I don’t sift through beforehand.

you hadn’t been throwing your leftover lunch in that trash can for the last two weeks. But, on the positive side, it’s kind of like a trip down memory lane. And yes, I have been doing this religiously for over 30 years.

Another weirdness, that’s probably just me, is I don’t throw used Kleenex in the trash can, because I don’t want to handle it again on ‘trash day’. Instead, I do this. When a Kleenex box is empty, I keep it out of the way on my main work space and open a new box of Kleenex. When I need to dispose of a used Kleenex (hey, it’s allergy season), I dispose of it in that empty box. When the new box is empty, I then throw the old one away (that’s now full again) and start the process all over again. Yeah, that’s probably just me.

Do you save all of your mail packaging? I do. Since I also do trade work, I get quite a few packages over the course of a month. I have a designated area in my shop where I store the packaging after I’ve taken out whatever was sent to me for repair. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to go back and look through it because it wasn’t packaged very well, and something came loose and was lost amongst the packaging material - usually stuck to a piece of adhesive shipping tape!

In a jewelry shop, things go flying more often than we care to admit, like stones flicking out of your tweezers, or pieces of gold flying out of a ring. If you’re lucky, you hear it hit the floor. And the fastest way to find it is to sweep the floor.

As soon as you spot whatever you lost, you also notice all kinds of other things down there as well. Pieces of gold, that 2mm ruby you lost a month ago, and that earring post you’ve been trying to find for 3 days. And, just like with your bench tray, you have to go through everything you just swept into a pile very carefully. But, since you just spent 15 minutes looking for whatever it is you just dropped, you don’t have time right now. So what do you do? You create a sweep hole. My sweep hole is behind a door in my shop that I hardly ever close. Once I find whatever I was looking for, I just sweep everything else behind that door. It’s safe, and it’s out of sight, and out of mind.

The other 8 trash cans are mostly just paper and such and can go for months before needing to be emptied. When it’s time to ‘take out the trash’, it’s a several hour ordeal. I get a new trash bag, and very carefully, piece by piece, I transfer everything from the trash can to the new trash bag looking for anything that shouldn’t be in there. Jewelry can get brushed off of a desk with your elbow and you’ll never know about it until you can’t find it a week or a month later, and you’ve already looked everywhere and start to panic. What do you do then?

If you’re like me, you start going through the trash, hoping to find it there since you’ve already looked everywhere else. Its right about here that you wish

Two or three times a year, that area gets full and has to be emptied. I’ll come in on my day off and, piece by piece, I’ll carefully go through all of that packaging before I’ll chunk it in the dumpster - just in case! Also, you’d be surprised at the number of people that will send you a job with no return address on the job envelope or paperwork. The only way to send it back is to find the original packaging and get the address off of that. That actually happened to me just last week.

Now, this one is just for the shop crews. Do you have ‘a sweep hole’? I do! And I’ve always had a sweep hole. What’s a sweep hole you ask? Allow me to explain. Think about what happens whenever you need to empty out your bench tray. Do you just dump it all willy nilly into whatever container you save your bench sweeps in? No, you have to go through it and pull out all of the sizing stock, the little diamonds you dropped, the watch batteries, and all of the broken saw blades before you pour it into your sweeps container. Now, think about everything you’ve dropped on the floor.

When it’s finally time to start pulling all of my refining together, I’ll actually gather up everything in the sweep hole into a dust pan, and go through it with the same care I did when emptying my bench tray. If you don’t have a sweep hole, it’s because you didn’t know they exist. Now that you do, find an out of the way spot that won’t be disturbed and start your own retirement savings account right there!

Am I the only one, or does anyone else out there have some weird quirks that you employ to safeguard the precious baubles that customers entrust to us? If so, send me a message and I’ll do a follow-up on this weird little bubble that only we live in!

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to info@ southernjewelrynews.com.

6 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Chuck Koehler

The Story Behind the Stone

The Allure of Color

There’s a powerful allure to colored gemstones. Ask any serious collector. They are timeless and speak a language all their own - but one that’s universally understood.

Pink is the ultimate feminine gemstone tint. Black is as dramatic and sophisticated as a tuxedo. Pastel blue stones instantly transport us to an imaginary tropical beach. And red jewels are powerhouses - making us stop and take notice.

In the world of color gemstones, there are gemologists and designers - but rarely both in the

same person. So it should come as no surprise that the work of a gemologist-designer makes a big splash on the global stage. This duality reveals itself in a deeper knowledge of the material chosen by the designer. And it affects their work in a tangible way.

With so many gemstone options available, one has to wonder if a gemologist-designer draws inspiration from the colored stone first or from the design of the piece itself.

Getting Candid with a Gemologist-Designer

The internationally lauded gemologist-designer Lisi Fracchia’s colorful jewelry is found in

As a tribute to the hundreds of coastal communities and ports of call across the country, the Harbor Series celebrates sailors, swimmers, and sun soakers with jewelry inspired by timeless nautical elements.

the collections of European royalty and style icons the world over. Global events celebrating acting achievements like the Goya Awards and prestigious Platino Awards are aglitter with her stylish creations.

By participating in Fashion Week in major style hubs, she builds a strong bond with fashion designers, many of whom select her creations exclusively to add a finishing touch for their runway models.

Straight to The Point

So we thought it would be illuminating to draw insight into the design process from the designer herself.

SJN: When designing a piece of jewelry, do you think of the design first and then look for the stones or do you start with the stones and imagine what you can create with them?

Lisi: Personally with my design process, I often find inspiration from both the design concept

SJN: Has there ever been a stone that was so unappealing to you that you couldn’t imagine designing with it?

Lisi: You see, for me every stone possesses its own unique beauty. And while there may be stones that don’t immediately resonate with me, I strive to find creative ways of showcasing their inherent qualities. I believe that every gem has the potential to shine when placed in the right setting.

One gem that comes to mind is pietersite, an opaque bluebrown stone that’s rare and few people know of it. It’s almost never selected for designs because it’s thought to be unappealing by some. But a visionary might create a spectacular piece of jewelry with it. That’s my gemologist side speaking, of course.

SJN: So the opposite has to be true too, then? Have you come across a stone that inspired you so much you knew you had to work it into a piece?

Merelani mint garnet easily piques my interest, as an example.

SJN: Do you consider trends and the latest styles when planning the collections you’ll create for the next season?

Lisi: While I’m certainly aware of current trends and fashion influences, I prefer to focus on creating timeless pieces that transcend fleeting fads. My designs are driven by a desire to capture the enduring beauty of fine jewelry, rather than chasing after the latest trends.

Around in Circles

SJN: Your iconic Circles rings are creating quite a buzz. What was your inspiration in designing them?

Lisi: The Circles rings were inspired by the timeless elegance of geometric shapes and the idea of capturing movement and fluidity in a piece of jewelry. The clean lines and contemporary design elements reflect my vision of modern sophistication. And on a deeper level it also suggests the circle of life with its symbolic representation of birth, survival, and death.

SJN: You mentioned the Circles rings look completely changed when set with different stones. Could you elaborate on that observation?

and the stones themselves. Sometimes, a particular gemstone will spark an idea. At other times, I begin with a vision for the design and then search for the perfect stones to bring it to life.

Fancy color sapphires with their rainbow hues offer instant inspiration, don’t they?

Lisi: Absolutely. Countless times I’ve encountered a stone that ignited my creativity and compelled me to incorporate it into a piece. The allure of certain gems is undeniable, and I’m constantly inspired by their natural splendor.

Lisi: Each stone possesses its own unique beauty, color, clarity, and character. Those attributes can dramatically alter the overall look and feel of a piece. By selecting different colored stones for the Circles rings, I showcase the versatility and individuality of

8 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024 800.845.6964 / info@cargoholdinc.com www.southerngatesjewelry.com © 2024 All rights reserved. Southern Gates® collection is a registered trademark of e Cargo Hold, Inc.
Diana Jarrett Renowned Argentine soprano Virginia Tola wears diamond and aquamarine jewelry. Photo Lisi Fracchia Joyas Lisi’s Circles rings look very different set in different stones. (l-r) Circles 3 (Tsavorite); Tanz-side (Tanzanite); Circles 5 (White Sapphire). Photo Lisi Fracchia Joyas Cuban actress Laura Ramos wears 18K white gold and yellow diamond earrings. Photo Lisi Fracchia Joyas
Please see Jarrett page 38

Successful Custom Creating Your Dream Team

The hour is late. You are physically and mentally exhausted when you finally take a break to grab something to eat before pouring yourself into bed so you can get up early tomorrow to do it all again. The daunting challenge of success is having enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that must get done. The “To Do Today!” list is always longer than the hours of the day will accommodate. It can be overwhelming and how often have you thought, “If there were just two of me, I could do this!”

Reaching the point where you wish you could clone yourself so you can meet the challenge

of the tasks that need to be done, you recognize that you need help. Plain and simple, you need someone to do some of what you are trying to accomplish.

The question is, who? Who do you hire? What will you have them do?

Often I’ve heard, “I wish I could just clone myself,” but that is exactly what you DON’T need. Imagine you have a football team with Tom Brady on your team. He’s a great player, but do you want a whole team of Tom Bradys? How well do you think your team is going to succeed with no offensive linemen to protect him, no receivers, running backs, or

even a center to snap the ball to him?

What you need is someone who excels at the things you are weak at or seem to take forever for you to get done. Someone who is just like you will have similar strengths and weaknesses. That means your business will remain vulnerable to those weaknesses. There would be no improvement in those things that you hate to do and take you forever to get done, or are only getting the bare minimum of attention because they just are not things you do well. Your clone would treat them the same as you.

Finding the right person to be an asset to your business begins with knowing what you need them to do. I’ve often been asked how to create a job description to build a great team. I tell them to start by spending an entire week writing down everything they do every day. At the end of the week rewrite the list, starting with the things you love to do down to the things at the bottom that you hate or dread having to do. Tear the list in half and hire someone to do the bottom half.

It sounds simple and maybe even a bit silly, but it’s direct and to the point. You need to hire people who excel at the things you

are not as proficient at. This concept is a fundamental core aspect of true team building.

I have a business partner who knew practically nothing about the jewelry trade when I hired her. That was a huge asset for the business. She sees things more like my customers than I do. This allows her to connect with the customers quickly and have a clear understanding of what they want.

Her ability to translate what the customer wants into what I need to create has cut the backand-forth discussion (and frustration level) down to a tenth of what it was when I was doing it myself. I am super artistic and super disorganized. Allowing her to do the organizational stuff has helped immeasurably.

It’s not that I could not do the tasks she does, but I cringe at the thought of having to. I could not accomplish what she does with the level of detail, speed, and accuracy. She is a wiz with her spreadsheets, whiteboards, forms, etc. I let her run with her ideas and put trust in her opinion, input, and feedback. I am free to focus my attention on my design, bench work, and marketing. Once a week we sit down and coordinate our work. The day-to-day communication is always there, but this weekly meeting is a vital key to our success. It is about teamwork. In a closeddoor meeting, where we have no distractions, we review every job in-house. We discuss everything from workflow, pricing, supplies, sourcing, and marketing to opportunities for improvement or growth. The two or three hours we spend each week making sure our team is on the same page with everything has proven to be profitable and effective. Orders don’t fall through the cracks or get lost in the shuffle. Efficiency continues to rise. The business continues to grow.

Lately, the forums have seen a lot of conversations about the conflicts between bench jewelers and store owners. They need each other, but they both need to acknowledge and respect each other.

10 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Please see Joel page 38

Last year we flew a 2000-pound Growing Machine from India to JCK so we could show Jewelers what one actually looks like, up close and personal. We also brought a videographer so we could take videos to provide content to help them position themselves as the local Expert on Lab.

This year we’re doing it again. If you’d like to make an appointment to see the machine, as well as shoot some powerful marketing footage, scan the QR code and it will take you straight to our appointment calendar. We’ll also supply the Lab coat!

Why just sell Lab, when you can Dominate it! Come grow with us.

For more information email us at info@surrealdiamond.com surrealdiamond.com (844) 999-7262
at JCK in las vegas
Come See A Lab Grown Diamond Growing Machine

Google cracks down on AI-generated content:

Here’s what you need to know

Have you noticed some weird search results lately? You’re not alone. Google recently rolled out a major update cracking down on websites that use AI-generated content.

What’s the big deal about AI content?

AI content creation tools have become increasingly popular in recent years. These tools can quickly churn out articles, blog posts, and other content. However, there’s a problem: a lot of AI-generated content could be better. It can be inaccurate, repetitive, and even meaningless. How Did Google Catch On?

Google is a pretty smart cookie. They’ve developed sophisticated algorithms that can

detect AI-generated content. These algorithms look for unnatural language patterns and a lack of credibility.

What Should You Do?

If you’ve been using AI content on your website, you may have been negatively impacted by Google’s update. But don’t panic! There are steps you can take to fix things.

1. Clean up your AI content - The first step is to identify and remove any AI-generated content from your website. Make sure to set it to return a 410 status code (content deleted) instead of a 404 (page not found).

2. Focus on E-E-A-T: Building Trust with Google - Google wants to see websites that demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). This means creating high-quality content that shows expertise in the topic and leverages the author’s experience to provide valuable insights.

The Best of the Big Shows.

Top Brands in Smart, Convenient Venues.

Better retail jewelers and their suppliers regularly sing the praises of the Select Jewelry Shows for their focus on security, comfort and the right mix of the best brands from the big shows.

2024 marks the 15th Anniversary of the founding of the group. As some trade shows come and go Select’s professionalism and accommodating management style have contributed to the show’s longevity and popularity according to jeweler’s who have been attending since the early years.

Select Jewelry Shows, annual Fall, trade only events, are smaller, more personal trade events that bring fine jewelry

designers and top-tier manufacturers to leading markets.

Here are some tips for creating E-E-A-T content:

• Write about topics you have experience with.

• Demonstrate expertise with citations - Support your claims with credible sources like scientific studies, industry reports, or articles from reputable websites.

• Update your content regularly - Show Google that your content is actively maintained. This could involve adding new information, addressing current trends, or fixing outdated details.

• Earn backlinks from highquality sites - Getting other websites to link to yours shows Google that your content is valuable and trustworthy.

You can build trust with Google and your audience by focusing on E-E-A-T. This will improve your SEO and establish your website as a reliable source of information.

For the convenience of the jewelers Select Shows run for two days, Sunday and Monday and feature 55-70 of the most popular lines and prestigious brands.

Select provides retail jewelers with comfort and security while working with their suppliers in easily accessible show locations. Delicious, complimentary breakfast and lunch and a fun cocktail party are available to all attendees.

Plan to visit a Select Jewelry Show by pre-registering at–SelectJewelryShow.com/register or use the QR code.

3. Use schema markupSchema markup is a way of providing search engines with additional information about your content. This can help Google to understand your website better and improve your search ranking. Many different schema markup types are available, but some of the most common include FAQs, product, and review schema.

Schema Explained Further - Imagine you have a box of tools. Without labels, it’s hard to tell what’s inside – a hammer, screwdriver, or maybe a spatula. Schema markup acts like labels for your website content, helping search engines like Google understand what kind of information you have.

Feeding Google’s Cravings with Modern Schema

While schema itself isn’t new, Google constantly updates what information it finds most helpful. Here are some types of schema that are particularly relevant now:

• Speakable schema - This helps Google understand your content well enough to use it in voice assistants like Google Home potentially.

• How To & FAQ schemaThese highlight step-by-step instructions and frequently asked

12 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Sep. 8-9, 2024 Dallas, TX Sep. 29-30, 2024 Washington DC Sep. 15-16, 2024 Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino SJN ad_Final.indd 1 5/10/24 3:35 PM Please see Pineda page 20

What’s Happening in Surat?

Eyewitness Report from “Diamond City”

I recently returned from Surat, the center of the diamond industry for India - and the world - where I got the “inside scoop” on what’s happening at this fascinating and rapidly transforming manufacturing and trading diamond hub. Diamonds account for approximately half the world’s jewelry, and India is currently the source of over 90% of the world’s cut and polished diamonds.

Manufacturing Center for Diamonds

Surat has for decades been the manufacturing center for the world’s cut and polished diamonds, which have been traditionally traded in nearby Mumbai (185 miles away), at the Bharat Diamond Bourse, BDB,

the world’s largest diamond exchange, handling 98% of India’s exports. Mumbai, a sprawling metropolis of 22 million, has the established infrastructure to facilitate the complex interactions - transportation, communication, office space - necessary for this behemoth industry, accounting for approximately 13% of India’s exports. But all that’s changing.

Surat’s New Diamond Bourse

India Prime Minister Modi on December 17, 2023 inaugurated the Surat Diamond Bourse, emerging as a new rival diamond trading center to Mumbai. The Surat Diamond Bourse is now the world’s largest office building complex, with 6.6 million square feet, surpassing the US’s Pentagon, which formerly held that record. It is comprised of nine towers, housing 4700 diamond merchant offices, and will also include a conference hall, health club, banquet hall, restaurants and shops. Some of the offices

are currently functioning, while others are still finishing construction. I visited the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council’s (GJEPC) offices, which were up and running, but so new the telephones were still wrapped in their original plastic wrappings!

The Surat Diamond Bourse is a world-class architectural showcase, with smart and green construction - the buildings are platinum rated green buildings, with sustainable architecture, radiant cooling and beautiful landscaping based on the principles of Panchatatva - the 5 elements of nature, in balance. It’s part of the emerging 700 acre DREAM - Diamond Research and Mercantile city.

See Mia page 38

14 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Mia Katrin 9 towers of the Surat Bourse Mia with GJEPC representative at GJEPC offices at the Surat Diamond Bourse.
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During a recent trip to a conference, a friend asked me to stop by his jewelry store for a quick analysis of his displays and perhaps a few suggestions on how they could be improved. Sales were flat and he was looking for help.

When I walked into the store my friend was busy looking at a diamond in a ring brought in by a customer. He was very precise in grading the color and clarity of the stone. He spoke of a small inclusion and the slight shades of yellow he saw. Given my reasonably mediocre eyesight (not to mention a slight color blindness to pinks), I was struck by

Looking without seeing

how well his talents were being professionally presented. He saw things in that stone that I would never have noticed.

The customer commented that she also, had never even noticed the attributes he had shown her in her ring. After she left, he and I began to look at his store and the displays. In the blink of an eye, my friend transitioned from a detailed observer of minor nuances to being virtually blind to his own surroundings.

His store was presentable, but definitely had it’s own “inclusions.”

His displays were only a few years old, but due to the inferior quality of materials used and construction, they were not doing his

merchandise any service. Several of the risers had medium brown glue visible on the white leatherette at the seams. (Not unexpectedly, that glue migration is common on Chinese displays made by lesser quality firms with poor quality control) I suggested we discard the platforms and replace them with new ones.

The leatherette material had turned to a pale yellow shade of its own in the case. Again, cheaper quality displays made of inferior materials are notorious for such fade. I suggested we swap out these yellow displays for some that presented well.

He had ordered his displays during a special sale the distributor was offering and not based

on his merchandise. Therefore he had lots of individual displays and a few high quantity trays. Any ring he had was destined to either be in a display alone or in a tray with 6 others. This eliminated a good-better-best display approach that works so well. (FYI- In this approach, the “best” rings are in individual elements, the “better” ones are in trays of 3 and the “good” rings are in trays of 5) I suggested we get some 3-ring trays for this case to put this proven strategy into place.

A showcase in a high traffic area near the door of the store was full of Men’s Jewelry. I said that I assumed therefore that the Men’s category was a good seller. “No, not really, but my stock all fits

into that 3’ showcase,” was the reply. (Uh, ok.) I suggested that we replace the merchandise in that case with fashionable diamond goods that would be new to the store. The men’s goods could go elsewhere. The placement of merchandise in a store layout is not a decision to be made without careful thought and intention. Make these decisions carefully.

The pendant LED lights above the showcases seemed to be underperforming. One had a yellowish cast and they just did not have the punch you’d expect being only 5’ or so above the cases. Again, initial cost had been the deciding factor in their purchase. I gave him the name of a firm with excellent lights that have a 5 year warranty to remain brilliant - at an overall store cost of less than $200 total above what he had spent on the deficient lights. Buy Home Depot lights for your home, not for your store, where they are on all week and need to hold their color, or your goods will look dull.

We talked some about his windows and their purpose. Their goal is to cause people to come into the store, and unless he has a lot of walk-by traffic, should contain big items and attractive signage.

We removed all smaller items from the wall cases behind his showcases that required binoculars to see by the customer.

We added some signs with monthly payments for higher priced items in his better cases.

We put in place a “Top 10 Gift Ideas” program that took about an hour from start to finish to do.

Lastly we ordered more program trays to make the purchase of diamond studs, pendants, crosses and other goods easier.

In a matter of less than 2 hours on-site, my friend was very pleased with the ideas and suggestions. He said that some of the observations I had made were things he had never even noticed in his store before.

I was drawn to the similarity of his comment and the one from his recent diamond customer. All Please see Johnson page 20

16 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Larry Johnson

The Approaching Hinge in Geopolitical History (part 1)

From a Business Modeling perspective, your company lies at the apex of a fragile ecosystem, owing to the fact that jewelry is a highly discretionary consumer product that lies well outside of life’s essentials. In good times, plentiful amounts of “nutrients” move up the ecosystem and into your revenue stream. Indeed, you don’t generally even notice the fragility unless something pretty bad happens. And fortunately, the past forty years have been characterized by pretty good geopolitical times, with the notable exceptions of the Gulf War that ruined the Christmas season of 1990, the

dreadful Great Recession of 2008 (that lingered on into 2010), and the initial, very scary onset of the Pandemic.

Viewed from a broad historical perspective, the last forty years have been unusually free of global catastrophes, especially when compared with other periods of similar duration like the one between 1914 and 1954, which saw two World Wars, a Depression, the Korean conflict, and the initial stages of what would ultimately become a prolonged cold war. But during the past decade, through negligence and recklessness, we have wrecked

the economic architecture of the world, in ways that will make the next forty years very different from the past forty. To understand how this occurred, let’s review the set of unfortunate events leading up to the present day, with a mind towards helping you to start building a defensive perimeter around your business if life gets hard.

The financial architecture of the world starts with the Dollar, and then moves to the currencies and economies of the rest of the first world nations, and then to the emerging markets. The Fed’s balance sheet (an accounting of

assets it buys with money created out of thin air) going into 2008 had less than a trillion dollars on it, but then from 2008 to 2018 grew from 990 billion to four and a half trillion. And just as we started to try to wean ourselves off that level, from four and a half down to four trillion, the emergence of the Pandemic caused those in charge to throw monetary caution to the wind, as the Fed then took its balance sheet from four trillion to nine trillion in just eighteen months. In a massive overreaction, they increased the money supply in the US by forty percent. No one knew

what the mortality rate of Covid would be, but our leaders panicked. And that expansion in the money supply has now produced a similar forty percent rise in the global cost of goods.

Recognize that all of the world’s goods and services are ultimately valued in Dollars. Most of the world’s poor live in horribly mismanaged economies, but they survive because they find ways to remain fed, clothed, and housed in spite of it all. When global GDP is running at around three and half percent, and inflation is running at around one and a half percent, they can get by. But think about what happens in countries around the world like Argentina, or Lebanon, or Gaza, when you suddenly shock the world financial system with 40 percent inflation. The poor already lacked disposable income before the dollar inflated, so inflation now breaks them. Even worse, their economies then hyperinflate, producing a negative convexity to the emerging world when the US shocks the global system.

Consider what happens in countries like Turkey as hyperinflation kicks in, where a population exceeding 85 million lacks our fidelity to Western Civilization’s values. Egypt is now experiencing annual inflation at a rate exceeding 35 percent. Pakistan is well on its way there. And all of this results directly from the egregious moves made by our policymakers, forcing dollar inflation on an already grim world economy.

But you can’t blame just the Fed and Treasury for the disaster. Congress’ inability to control spending also plays a significant role. In fiscal 2023, the federal government took in 4.4 trillion in receipts, but spent 6.1 trillion. Folks trying to minimize the profound nature of this deficit spending will tell you that it only represents seven percent of GDP. Unfortunately, what’s really happening is that we are spending 40 percent more than we are taking in, with no end in sight.

The high rate of inflation that we’re creating in Dollar terms will now simply continue to ex-

18 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024 Applied Marketing 101
George Prout


Continued from page 16

too often we do not see what is obvious because we do not look. There is a difference between “seeing and really looking.” We allow ourselves to be caught in our cycle of daily repetition.

Take time in your daily routine, to come out from behind the showcase and really look at your presentation. Look for areas where improvements can be made. Look at your use of your showcases. Look at your lights and cases. Look at your store sales goals for guidance on how to allocate your showcase space. Look at your costs for any new displays as an investment in your sales. Look at your store with the

same insight you bring to your diamonds. You might be pleasantly surprised with the increased sales you see. He was.

Larry is the founder of Larry Johnson Consulting Group, a world-wide jewelry merchandising and marketing advisory firm based in Colleyville, Texas. He is the author of “The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display” and a frequent speaker at jewelry events. His firm has worked with hundreds of independent retailers to improve their sales through better display merchandising. He is the holder of 6 US patents for his display products. He can be reached at Larry@LarryJohnsonConsulting. com or 817-980-2135. His website is www.LarryJohnsonConsulting.com.


Continued from page 12

questions, making your content more user-friendly and potentially earning a richer snippet in search results.

• Dataset, service, product, and review schema - These provide specific details about different types of content, allowing Google to categorize them effectively.

• Organization/Local business schema - This schema helps Google understand your location, contact details, and opening hours.

• Video schema - This helps Google understand your videos, potentially leading to richer snip-

pets with thumbnails and descriptions.

Why use modern schema?

Using these modern schema types gives Google the information it craves to understand your content better. This can lead to several benefits:

• More relevant search results: By understanding your content type, Google can display it in a more relevant way for search queries.

• Richer snippets: Schema can unlock features like star ratings for reviews, ingredients for recipes, or event dates, making your search results stand out.

• Potentially improved ranking: While Google doesn’t confirm this directly, some experts believe using relevant schema

Customer financing that’s a cut above the rest.

TD and Blue Nile have partnered to offer a multifaceted consumer financing solution. Together, we drive innovation and collaboration to increase conversions in a truly digital platform.

We are committed to our partners every step of the way through:

Carefully curated programs designed with your specific needs in mind

Our creative approach in featuring messaging throughout the entire digital ecosystem

Convenient training tools for sales agents to confidently educate customers on financing options

With TD, convenient financing plans are designed specifically with our customers’ needs in mind. Offering shoppers a seamless application and higher credit lines has greatly contributed to our success.

might give your content a slight ranking boost.

Tip: Don’t stuff your content with schema just for SEO. Focus on using it accurately to genuinely improve the user experience and help Google understand your content.

4. Update your existing content: Give your old content a refresh! Google loves fresh content, so adding new information or updating existing content is a great way to improve your SEO.

Tip: Add a FAQ section to your existing content. This is a great way to answer common questions that people have about your topic and show Google that your content is valuable.

By following these steps, you can improve your website’s SEO. It is a guarantee that you’re providing high-quality content to your readers.

Haven’t you been impacted? Even if Google’s update hasn’t impacted your website, following the tips above is still a good idea. These tips will help you to create high-quality content that will rank well in search results.

Unleash the Human Touch in Your Brand

Creating high-quality content doesn’t have to feel like climbing the highest mountain. Focus on your passion, share your unique experience, and provide genuine value to your readers. Google will recognize the authenticity, and your audience will appreciate the insights. After all, the web is a much more interesting place when real people share their knowledge, not robots churning out generic articles.

Crafting genuine connections with your customers is the secret to success in the tight competition of jewelry retail. At Jewelry Store Marketers, we understand that the best marketing comes from passionate people, not AI robots. Let our team help you create a unique online presence that showcases your expertise and builds trust with your audience. Ditch the generic and embrace the power of human connection. Visit Jewelry Store Marketers today and discover how we can help your store attract more customers.

Guy Pineda, CEO of Jewelry Store Marketers, has owned an award winning digital agency for the past 15 years and has been working in the jewelry industry for close to 30 years. Jewelry Store Marketers is niche agency that helps jewelry stores get more appointments and increase sales through Local SEO, Digital Marketing, Website Development, Social Media, Videos and more. Learn more at jewelrystoremarketers.com.

20 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Learn more at TDRCS.com ©2024, TD Bank, N.A. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

“IMMEDIATE CASH” $1,000,000 Available!!


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Micro Welding for the Metalsmith

The integration of new technologies with traditional jewelry and metalsmithing techniques creates great opportunities to develop new and innovative ways of crafting. The introduction of pulse arc welding into my own practice has proven to be a catalyst for an exciting new phase of material exploration and idea generation, which has cemented this versatile tool as a core part of my craft.

My first experience with a pulse arc welder was with master silversmith Jeffrey Herman. He demonstrated how he was able to repair antique silver pieces more effectively and recommended it to me as an essential tool for restoration work. Seeing the versatility of this technology, I began contemplating how this could be integrated into my studio practice.

After some deliberation and research, I made the leap and purchased a Sunstone 150 Pulse Arc Welder to begin my journey in micro-welding. I spent over 6

months working through the different settings and testing out various materials. Initially, it was a steep learning curve because there were limited welding resources available for jewelry and metalsmithing. After spending much time documenting my progress and learning through trial and error, I began successfully incorporating pulse arc welding into my production work and repairs.

This started with simple tasks including closing jump rings, repairing chain links, resizing rings, and casting repairs. As my comfort and confidence grew, I began incorporating welding into other projects to help supplement some of the steps. One of the first big benefits I discovered was being

able to tack weld parts in place before soldering, which was extremely beneficial as it eliminated the need for binding wire.

Next, I wanted to test the boundaries of its potential to push traditional techniques further, so I created a series of sculptural

forms using 30 gauge sheets of fine silver. Typically, utilizing such a thin material would not be possible in traditional soldering assembly, but welding presented a unique opportunity. The work-hardened components were able to preserve their sturdiness because the welding process did not anneal the material. This also allowed me to polish parts in advance that would normally be difficult to address after assembly.

In the first pieces I created for this series, the weld seams were incorporated into the aesthetic of the design. I worked to

highlight the assembly and the precision of the welds by ensuring they remained visible in the final pieces. The more I practiced, the more I worked to blend the welds into the surface to create an

illusion of solid and seamless silver forms. This process was challenging as it required more attention to the structure of the weld seam and how the material fused. This led me to begin using wire filling as a means of building up

the seam, and I continued practicing work-harding the weld seam by compressing the metal with a hammer handpiece to help prepare it for sanding and finishing.

Please see Weld page 36

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Soldering sucks. But with an Orion pulse arc welder from Sunstone you’ll save oodles of time when constructing a work piece, closing a jump ring, adding wire to a prong, or fixing porosity—easier than ever before with the all new Orion mpulse. With five models to choose from, there’s an Orion welder that fits your studio’s budget.

What’s New with the Orion mPulse™?

• Tru-Fire Technology™. Easier, more consistent welding.

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• 3 Grounding Ports. Always have the right ground ready to go.

• Dual Zone Power Range. Set the power faster, more accurately.

• 14 Software Backgrounds. Choose a design that fits your brand.

25 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024 orion mPulse™ Introducing the All New Orion mPulse™ Happy Welding. Happy Creating.
Learn More
©2024 Sunstone Engineering LLC. Sunstone and Orion are registered trademarks and Orion mPulse and Tru-Fire Technology are trademarks of Sunstone Engineering LLC. A-SJNMAY24
Text/Call +1 801-658-0015 • Visit sunstonewelders.com

What’s New

IGI launches new Light Performance Reports for round brilliant diamonds

The International Gemological Institute (IGI), has introduced Light Performance Grading Reports showcasing round brilliant cut diamonds with exceptional optical qualities. The IGI Light Performance grading system calculates values for each diamond to provide a primary score, indicating the overall strength of Light Performance, along with sub-component scores for Brightness, Fire, and Contrast.

Diamonds of the same shape can exhibit different visual characteristics. IGI’s new light performance assessment supplements traditional diamond grading by communicating the unique aesthetic story each diamond tells, with scientific analysis which explains its appeal.

In the IGI system: “Brightness” refers to all reflected and refracted white light. “Fire” is dispersed light seen as flashes of color. “Contrast” is the balance and intensity of light and dark areas at common viewing distances. The primary “Light Performance” score indicates the overall strength of brightness, fire, and contrast as they combine to produce scintillation; considered by many to be a diamond’s most appealing quality.

“Light performance is directly connected to a diamond’s appeal,” stated IGI CEO Tehmasp Printer. “In recent years we have seen increasing interest in expanded performance analysis. IGI has responded by creating an easy

to understand, science-based light performance report along with cutting guidelines for diamond producers, empowering them to target the best results. We are pleased to support manufacturers, sellers, and buyers of high performing diamonds with detailed

information on these popular aspects of diamond beauty.”

IGI Light Performance Grading Methodology

The system was developed by IGI researchers using ray-tracing software and slope proportions logic to assess a wide range

of parametric data sets for roundbrilliant cuts spanning 18 table sizes. Parameters judged to have exceptional performance were further assessed using structured light environment renderings and physical science to calculate scores for commonly described aspects of diamond beauty.

The scores are supported with a computer-generated map of the diamond in an instrument called ‘Ideal-Scope;’ a structured light environment which reveals overall light return, light leakage, and contrast. That image conforms to the diamond’s actual parametric measurements, permitting further expert analysis of fundamental light behavior.

More information about the system, as well as light performance cutting guidelines for diamond manufacturers are available online at www.igi.org/cutgrading.

KIM International releases Romance Bridal Collection Look Book

Kim International has announced the release of their new Romance Bridal Collection Look Book, featuring hundreds of fresh new styles, as well as all their proven best sellers.

The beautiful 52-page catalog showcases a variety of elegant designs from classic hidden halos to trending wide-band styles. Romance offers rings for every taste from modern to timeless, classic to re-imagined vintage designs. To meet current consumer demand, Romance has introduced many new semi-mount designs for larger 2 and 3 carat centers in both yellow and white gold.

The wide selection ensures that every bride will find the ideal ring.

With personalization of engagement rings an important trend for today’s brides, KIM offers a quick and easy custom department, with a range of customization options like metal type/color, stone size/shape, stone type/ quality, and unique design modifications. Offering realistic 24-hour CADs, they can modify and deliver within 2-3 weeks after approval. Each custom ring carries a limited lifetime warranty and qualifies for SPIF rewards.

The Romance program offers many perks for retailers, including beautiful new custom displays. Romance’s extensive CZ sample program features exact replicas in high-quality sterling silver and CZs, backed with live in-stock inventory in Dallas, TX. Their lucrative SPIF reward program features instant rewards and no accrual needed.

KIM’s comprehensive Romance marketing package offers many complimentary assets: Romance hand-out catalogs, exten-

sive social media library, custom posters/duratrans, TV Loop, ad/ billboard designs and much more. The website options include an elegant, e-commerce enabled retail jewelry website (powered by Thinkspace) that includes every feature a jeweler needs. Embeds are available for all their brands as well as high-quality images and data links.

KIM’s commitment to excellent quality, fine detail and outstanding value is evident in every design. Each ring is created in the KIM factory to exacting standards and is backed with a limited lifetime warranty against defects in quality and workmanship. KIM controls the process from concept to completion to ensure the highest standards. As members of the Responsible Jewellery Council, KIM is committed to operating in accordance with the RJC code of responsible human rights, social and environmental practices, and conflict free supply chains.

To receive a copy of KIM’s new Romance Bridal Collection Look Book or to inquire about becoming a Romance retail partner, please contact Kim International at 800-275-5555 or sales@kimint.com. Learn more at kimint. com.

26 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024











27 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024 IGI Lab Cert# 616430493 614339025 611388286 617414997 624429560 559297512 621422946 551276781 615382483 618403827 615370501 547247803 627417802 596353525 615371135 627441940 614320309 577382010 618408390 561288397 607368390 559297491 619431415 628496387 632494159 607389531 597399096 607389469 598321817 611362633 611362999 613351479 614395500 614337650 615343202 628424519 619438832 613393092 629430561 618406517 Shape BR BR BR BR BR PR PR PR PS PS PS PS PS EM EM EM EM EM EM CU CU CU CU RAD RAD MQ MQ MQ MQ MQ MQ HS HS HS HS AS OV OV OV OV Col/Clar G-VS1 G-VS1 G-VS2 F-VS1 F-VS1 E-VS1 G-VS1 E-VS2 G-VS1 F-VS2 F-VS1 G-VS1 G-VS1 G-VS1 G-VS1 H-VS1 G-VS2 G-VS1 F-VS2 F-VS1 E-VS1 E-VS1 F-VS1 F-VS1 E-VS1 H-VS2
Cut EX EX ID EX ID Polish EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX Symmetry EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX EX Discount% -99.54 -99.58 -99.52 -99.50 -99.15 -99.60 -99.20 -98.95 -99.54 -99.62 -99.66 -99.54 -99.25 -99.52 -99.55 -99.55 -99.60 -99.25 -99.00 -99.40 -99.60 -99.52 -99.20 -99.15 -98.95 -99.45 -99.54 -99.54 -99.60 -99.58 -99.40 -99.35 -99.40 -99.35 -99.52 -99.20 -99.50 -99.58 -99.20 -98.90 Depth% 62.9 62.8 62.5 62.6 60.4 67.9 72.4 73.7 59.7 59.6 63.5 63.9 64 63.6 63.1 68 67.6 67.9 68.4 66.1 65.9 61.7 66 64.8 65.2 55.4 58.1 57.3 59.6 62.8 61.4 60 58.1 59.2 61.5 65 62.3 60.6 62.9 63.5 Table% 58 54 60 56 60 66.5 73 72 62 61 62 60.5 64 65 69 66 66 65 64 64.5 61 62 63 60 64 63 63 62 62 57 59 58 59 60 60 67 62 61 59 58 Total$ $1570.62 $1271.09 $1207.58 $500.50 $392.83 $1355.20 $541.80 $369.02 $1451.07 $1051.65 $880.75 $571.83 $506.25 $1946.16 $1786.05 $972.88 $782.32 $507.94 $314.65 $2166.09 $1350.72 $1346.69 $634.00 $639.62 $419.58 $1566.18 $1666.35 $1453.14 $1244.24 $945.00 $687.12 $2342.92 $2422.56 $1784.25 $1086.48 $1204.16 $2074.80 $946.89 $541.80 $375.87 Weight 7.04 6.24 5.99 3.08 2.37 6.05 3.01 2.13 7.01 6.15 5.03 4.01 3.00 9.01 8.82 6.09 5.08 3.01 2.03 7.01 6.03 5.01 3.17 3.01 2.22 9.04 8.05 7.02 6.04 5.00 4.09 8.01 7.84 6.10 5.03 4.24 7.41 5.01 3.01 2.01 22 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036, USA Call: (212)-764-7841 | Email: sales@elgdiamonds.com Website: www.sanghavisolitaire.com/Home/DailySpecial LAB DIAMONDS AS LOW AS -99.66% OFF! Over 5000 diamonds on hand Short and long term memo programs available SCAN THE QR CODE TO SEE OUR INVENTORY

larger in recent years, and there’s an avid fan base for these celebrity sized stones.

So in the public’s mind, this whole niche of synthetic diamonds is a brand new development. But in reality, this technology is quite old and endlessly fascinating. If you’re selling these sparkling products you may want to unpack some of this captivating history to share with a curious shopper.

With all the clamor surrounding these ‘new’ gemstones, one could be forgiven to think they were just invented. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Going way back to the late 18th century, we discover that scientists isolated the exact composition of diamonds - that being pure carbon. That revelation prompted scientists to embark on a plan to synthesize diamonds. Throughout the 19th century, scientists emboldened with this new understanding tried unsuccessfully to replicate diamonds in a lab.

Secret Research

By the mid-20th century, a major shift was underway. Under a top secret experiment (code-

named Project Superpressure) which started in the 1940s scientists began recreating the conditions under which natural diamonds were formed.

WWII put the kibosh on these tests for the duration of the global conflict. But eventually, in 1954 GE Research Laboratories introduced the first proven synthetic diamond. Their unrelenting experiments paid off big time. By employing a high-pressure belt of 100,000 atm, they subjected microscopic seed crystals to controlled temperatures of 1,600° C, or 2,912° F.

When the material produced from this experiment broke the researchers’ cutting tools, they figured they were on to something. Diamond, ranking 10 on the Mohs scale is the hardest known substance on the face of the earth. Scientists Howard Tracy Hall, Francis Bundy, Robert Wentorf and Herbert Strong are credited with diamond synthesis from that era.

The Really Big Picture

There was a much bigger picture at stake than jewelry. They weren’t trying to make a dazzling necklace or an enviable diamond engagement ring. Their efforts were more focused on the industrial application of these marvels. The four inventors understood that a pure graphite substancecarbon, was key to replicating nature’s most coveted natural stone, however.

According to www.Invent. org, a blog for the Inventors Hall of Fame group, “This combination was then heated to 1,600 C (2,912 F) under 100,000 atmospheres of pressure, and 38 minutes later, ‘octahedron diamond crystals emerged from the belt.’ After successfully reproducing these results, news of the team’s groundbreaking work in creating the world’s first man-made diamonds was published in February 1955.”

Wider Use for Lab Diamonds

With this landmark success came a multitude of applications for the remarkable substance. Initially none of it had to do with the luxury industry as we understand lab grown diamonds today.

They initially became seminal to several industries for use in such ways as:

Abrasives: Industrial abrasives are widely known to consist of synthetic diamonds. Their superb durability and hardness make them indispensable for cutting, grinding, and polishing hard materials like glass, ceramics, and even metal.

Cutting & Polishing Tools: When it comes to precision ma-

These early heroes of scientific research provided the world with a synthetic diamond suitable for myriad military and industrial applications since their successful synthesis in the mid-1950s. I wonder what these men would think today if they could see the advances made with diamond synthesis since that time.

chine application, synthetic diamonds excel in their placement with cutting and polishing tools. Their matchless hardness outperforms other materials for precise shaping and finishing of a number of materials.

Scientists discovered synthetic diamond’s propensity for conducting heat, making them indispensable in electronic devices, and dissipating heat away from sensitive components.

Electronics: Ongoing electronic applications of synthetic diamonds, such as: High-Power Switches for use in power stations. High-Fre-

Business journal Quartz (August 17, 2023) reports some impressive figures about lab grown diamonds in 2023. “The analysis shows that lab-grown diamond jewelry sales grew globally to almost $12 billion in 2022, up 38% year-over-year. In 2023, so far the industry has sold $14.6 billion worth of lab-grown diamonds worldwide.”

Citing a cash strapped global economy, the publication reports that LGDs look pretty good to diamond shoppers who want the most for their money. The LGD shoppers decry the romanticism that natural diamond enthusiasts hold dear. So there is something for everyone - and the attractive price points of lab grown diamonds makes it easier to “say yes” to these sparklers. As affordable as they are, with their proliferation, we are witnessing even more attractive pricing for these stones.

quency Transistors benefit from the distinct properties of synthetic diamonds. Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) look for synthetic diamonds to become a key player in the future of LED technology.

Scientific Research: Labgrown diamonds have become critical in experiments requiring extreme pressure and temperature conditions, since they were created under such conditions, they are extremely robust. Boron-doped synthetic diamonds even exhibit superconductivity. Wikipedia explains superconductivity as “a set of physical properties observed in certain materials where electrical resistance vanishes, and magnetic fields are expelled from the material.”

Today more than 100 tons, or more than 450 million carats, of synthetic diamonds are produced annually for industrial use.

Quartz points out a key scenario that makes the lab-grown diamond a stone for our times. “The economy in the US following the covid pandemic has led Americans to be more budget-tight with fewer savings. Weddings are no exception, with couples having to find more affordable ways to get married, the ring included.”

An insider’s perspective is offered by George Prout, president of JB Bhanderi, the world’s largest CVD grower and manufacturer of the Surreal Diamond brand. The position that laboratory grown diamonds have created in our industry, he says, “is LGDs have become the great democratizer.” Reflecting on DeBeers icon slogan “a diamond is forever”, Prout expands on that motto to include lab-grown diamonds, by saying “a diamond is now for everyone.”

28 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Lab grown diamond rough and polished. Photo Surreal Diamond
Picture Continued from page 3
Inventors of synthetic diamonds. Photo Inventors Hall of Fame

Industry Events

INSTORE Show 2024 announces Cram Day featuring GIA overview of lab grown diamonds


On August 10, the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL will be abuzz with the INSTORE Show’s Cram Day Conference kickoff, a full day of pre-show education.

This year’s Cram Day headlining event will be presented by GIA Alumni Collective®, covering a fine jewelry industry hot topic, laboratory-grown diamonds. Seating will be limited to 50 attendees per session, with just two sessions taking place.

Lisa Kennedy, GIA Sr. Subject Specialist in Gemology, will present a thorough explanation and evaluation of the latest in laboratory-grown diamond education and identification.

Key Highlights of the seminar include:

• Learning about the most common production methods (HPHT and CVD).

• Reviewing the critically important U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that define key terms and how to use them.

• Understanding the services, methods, and instruments that can help distinguish between laboratory-grown and natural diamonds.

• Exploring GIA Laboratory Reports and the GIA iD100™ gem testing device.

This unique seminar will include a hands-on element that allows attendees to better understand these points through the examination of diamonds under microscopes.

The Cram Day Conference program also features two additional education tracks curated

by INSTORE featuring speakers representing successful jewelry retailers and the industry’s top consultants. Sessions will cover the most critical topics for small business owners, from strategic planning and digital marketing to security, hiring and retaining strong employees, selling skills and more. The Expert Guidance Track covers topics that will help independent jewelry store owners improve their stores in a variety of ways, and the Retail Excellence Track will feature panels of retail owners and managers shar-

ing best practices in areas critical to store success and profitability. The Cram Day conference program requires a separate ticket purchase and includes lunch. For more information and to register for a free show badge and Cram Day ticket, visit theinstoreshow. com/pre-show-education

About the INSTORE Show 2024:

The INSTORE Show 2024 will take place August 11-12, 2024, in Rosemont, IL as the jewelry industry’s only trade show experience in the Midwest market. Presented by INSTORE magazine, and in partnership with MJSA and Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference 2024, this exclusive trade show promises to be a game-changer for independent fine jewelry professionals and industry suppliers.

The INSTORE Show includes:

• 2 days of networking and buying from top-tier jewelry vendors and service providers

• High-quality educational content that will ignite fresh ideas, provide actionable takeaways, and equip you with tools to empower your team

• Insights from industry experts and influencers through daily keynote presentations and interactive panel discussions

• Engagement with likeminded peers on and off the trade show floor

• The Bench Pressure Challenge custom design competition

• Networking receptions on Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11, including the popular Play It Cool Party, where past Cool Store Winners will be honored and 2024 winners will be announced.

Eligible retailers can register for a free show badge by visiting theinstoreshow.com/registration

For more information visit theinstoreshow.com or direct questions to info@theinstoreshow.com. To learn more about 2024 exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities, direct questions to exhibit@theinstoreshow.com.

For more Continuing Education offerings and to register for the GIA Alumni Collective® online Community, visit collective. gia.edu.

30 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024

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Say hello to Ember! Ember is an adorable and spunky 2-year-old Shih Tzu. She works at Jewelry Savers in Wichita, Kansas. While not busy with her store greeter duties, Ember can often be found sleeping in one of her three di erent dog beds. She just loves a good tummy rub and is wonderful with children visitors. In addition to her greeter responsibilities she is a con dent and elegant jewelry model. The entire sta at Jewelry Savers is grateful for Ember’s love and hard work.

Do you have a furry friend that helps out in your store? Tell us about it and send a picture to bill@southernjewelrynews.com.

Introducing Chili! Chili is a 5-year-old female Lab Mix who works at Caleesi Designs in Austin, Texas alongside store co-owners Steve Werbeck and Cathy Miller. She works with passion greeting people, playing with young children and bringing her toys out when she really takes to someone! Customers bring in treats and toys for Chili, which makes her day. She has been delighting Caleesi customers since she was just a pup, 8-weeks-old. Chili also enjoys when customers bring their furry friends in for a visit.

Email: contact@pickensinc.com 480 E. Paces Ferry

32 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
on the
Furry Friends
Atlanta, GA. 30305

product, unlike any other in this world, with built in mystique, beauty and rarity. There are so many things to collect. It’s pleasurable for consumers, and really good business for jewelers.”

With diamonds, after acquiring the coveted jewelry staples, what’s next, asked the Los Angeles-based designer Erica Courtney for The Courtney Collection of “Drop Dead Gorgeous Gemstones”, a panelist alongside Marcusson. “With colored stones, there are so many ways to build a jewelry collection. For me, I can remember, oh, she has the lavender; I’m going to get her the purple. She has the light green; I’m going to get her the dark green. She has garnet; I’m going to get her a mandarin.”

Advocate Relevance

In her latest consulting work, Marcusson inspires people to see their jewelry as symbols of personal growth, connection and empowerment. She encourages clients to have a more meaningful connection with their jewelry, as she believes gems and jewels can significantly enhance our individual journey towards authenticity and fulfillment.

“This perspective keeps clients returning, seeking jewels that speak to their personal narratives, not just occasional adornments,” said Marcusson, known since the 1990s for her “infotainment” trunk shows, trademarked color palette system, and training for how to sell to the female selfpurchaser.

“Helping people understand how to connect with jewelry as their personal transformation brings more vivacity to their life,” she explained. “Jewelry can express something deep inside us, our value system, internal compass, the things we want to be and feel, and when we put that jewel on, it’s a reminder of how we

move forth.”

Courtney underscored jewelry’s ability to make us feel good. “During COVID, I got up, washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on my jewelry, and went back to bed to watch Tiger King. Three months in lock down was horrible. It was important for me to put on jewelry. It was the only thing I felt I had during that lonely time that made me feel better.”

When jewelry becomes relevant it becomes something that customers understand that they need, said Marcusson. “Most people don’t understand what jewelry can do for them, how it has meaning, how it can empower them, why it’s the best medium

gem and jewelry mine-to-market strategist Hayley Henning in a GemFair presentation, Colored Gemstones Link People and Places. “The buyer can imagine owning a tiny bit of that location. Discussing geographic origin is an opportunity to tell the incredible stories of where gems are mined, why a stone is unique to a location, and how communities at the source are impacted. Consumers want to know.”

Along with most other industries, and perhaps even more so in the gem and jewelry world, there’s great movement from consumers to embrace the origin story and supply chain transparency, cited Henning, a judge in the upcoming Informa Markets International Sustainability Awards 2024 by Jewellery News Asia.

“Gem collectors are taking a serious look at corporate social responsibility and are interested in a gem’s journey mine to market,” Henning said. “It’s in the gem and jewelry industry’s best interest to make this information accessible beyond the trade organizations to give consumers the tools they

to mark a milestone, and how our love of gems and jewels is a gift passed down to us from our most ancient ancestors.”

Inspire, Teach, Listen

There are regular people, said Marcusson, who are looking for this information and looking for someone to light a passion in them to collect colored stones.

While raising her children, Marcusson began working with private clients, high-end world caliber collectors who were coming to her because they wanted to get what was hard to find in most jewelry stores, knowledge and awareness of colored stones.

Her biggest takeaway with selling is to sell with passion. “Inspire your customers to be gem enthusiasts, that’s how you create gem collectors.”

Storytelling is instrumental in selling gem jewelry, echoed wholesaler/manufacturer and AGTA President Kimberly Collins on the panel. “I’m doing these rainbow layouts in sapphires that are so exquisite. But not everyone is a rainbow person. Still, it presents an opportunity to talk about how hard it is to gradate the colors in sapphire, from dark blue into pastel blue into blue green into yellow. All of a sudden, even if it’s not the color layout they are going to collect, customers are engaging with the piece.”

Collins said she “rainbows”

her booth in how she displays.

“From the saturated purple I do the full spectrum. I lay out my stones that way because I find people shop by color.”

Country of origin is of growing importance too for gem aficionadas. It can be an important connection that people have to colored stones. Courtney - who has visited many of the mines where she has sourced gemstones for her designs - recounted a story of a client who initially chose a moonstone, only to bring it back for a Mahenge spinel, four times the price, when she learned it came from Tanzania where her son had lived.

“For many people all over the world the connection with a gemstone might be the only opportunity people have to be connected, in some way, to that country of origin,” shared the Miami-based

need to make their gem and jewelry buying decisions. We need to understand that it is the taking care of our world and the people in it that will ultimately drive our businesses, big and small.”

In fact, more members of the supply chain are traveling to visit the source, shared Breckin Brandstrater, editor-in-chief of Gemworld International’s Gem Guide, in its annual market report in Tucson. She believes this trend will increase for stakeholders in the latter ends of the supply chain to understand exactly how that’s working.

Marcusson reminded jewelers that storytelling at the retail counter needs to go both ways. “Only from listening to your customer’s story, and understanding it, can jewelers begin to understand how to make jewelry more relevant to their life.”

34 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Vibrant colors in the Courtney Collection. Pendants from Cynthia Reneé AGTA President Kimberly Collins displays her wares at AGTA GemFair Tucson.
color Continued from page 3
Erica Courtney’s passion for colored gems has taken her all over the world.

Marsden Brothers Promotions


Retirement? Going Out of Business?

Moving? Transferring Ownership? LET US HELP

I have been at the store for a million years, well - 48 years. My goal of 100 years for the store was met, and a few more. At closing, it had been in existence for 102 years. My employees were aging and I turned 65. I found myself being overwhelmed and thought about how much longer I wanted to run my store. I learned about Marsden Brothers Promotions through RJO, and I contacted them because of their being a RJO member. I knew Marsden Brothers had to be good, because RJO is picky about their members.

“My sale turned out very well!

To be honest, the sale did more than I expected. I was able to reach my financial and retirement goals. My sale resulted in TWICE my annual volume!”

In preparation for my sale, everyone at MBP office was excellent to work with. They all understood the emotions I had regarding closing the store. Everyone was flexible and just excellent. Marsden Brothers Promotions is a great team to work with. I absolutely would recommend MBP to other jewelers because I trust them. There is nothing better than trust.

35 Jewelry
www.marsdenbrotherspromotions.com 208.523.0792

Continued from page 24

With much practice, this process became second nature, and I now use it regularly when welding to help secure and blend in all of my seams.

Before too long, I had found my flow with the welder and it was quickly becoming a musthave tool in all of my work. With its value and use increasing in my studio, it started to catch the at-

tention of other jewelers in my community when they visited, which led to many inquiries about its use. With this new interest, I decided to make my welder available to others who were curious to try it or actively considering it for their studio. I began providing

instruction on the basics and my interest in educating others grew.

At this time, I also had been transforming my private studio into a shared community jewelry studio and education space, called

The Bench. My goal was to provide resources, instruction, teaching opportunities, and workspaces to local students, jewelers, and metalsmiths. I began developing curriculum materials for the pulse arc welder and delivering instruction both at The Bench and on the go at local businesses and national conferences. With greater access to a growing community of interest in welding, I found that more individuals began reaching out directly to inquire about opportunities to see the machines in person and test them out for their specific projects. I knew then that this tool would be an integral part of, not only my individual practice but of my rapidly growing work in education.

As a practitioner, and now an educator, my interest in be-

coming a source of information, and troubleshooting support for others continues to grow. Knowing the investment of time it took for me to become proficient motivates me to help others move more quickly through their learning journey. As for the tools themselves, there have been so many advancements since I first started that I often wonder where the technologies will go from here. With each new model, I have seen pulse arc welders become more versatile and user-friendly. I have also found that the potential for innovation isn’t only in the hands of manufacturers, but also in the hands of practitioners themselves. With an understanding of the machine and a clear picture of what you want to achieve, it becomes possible to develop innovations of your own that work alongside the welder and augment its value and application. Through the creation of jigs, add-ons, and supplemental tools for specific types of work, I have been able to solve daily challenges, increase my productivity, and improve the quality of my work.

Overall, my journey with pulse arc welding has given me so many opportunities to be creative, solve problems, and develop new techniques that I would truly recommend this tool to anyone interested in furthering their practice. Ultimately, I feel there is endless potential in the integration of this technology with traditional techniques and, as the community of practitioners continues to grow, I find it even more exciting to work with these tools, learn from one another, and find ways to contribute to the field at large.

Patrick McMillan is a jeweler/metalsmith based in Rhode Island. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and his Master of Art at the Birmingham School of Jewellery in Birmingham, England. In 2011, he established a jewelry and metalsmithing business, McMillan Metals, where he created his own production line and custom jewelry pieces for customers in the region. He also developed jewelry programming in local high schools before finally opening up his own education space in 2017. Patrick now owns and operates The Bench Jewelry and Metalsmithing Studio in Pawtucket, RI, a creative and educational studio space for jewelers and metalsmiths that provides access to workshops, tools, equipment, and affordable workspaces. www.mcmillanmetals.com www.thebenchri.com

36 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
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Bench jewelers and store owners typically have different work habits and job expectations. The very successful stores have learned how to make the differences work to their advantage. Store owners face a lot of challenges keeping the doors open and all the bills paid.

I knew one owner who frequently charged the weekly payroll bills to his own credit card just to make sure it was covered and his employees got paid on time. That sort of stress causes a lot of pressure to come down the line to the bench jeweler to get more work done faster.

In the owner’s mind, the faster the work is done, the faster the money to pay the bills will get into the bank. However, that everything is an urgent rush puts a lot of extra stress on the bench jeweler.

Can you imagine sitting there with a hammer and punch trying to form the prongs and tighten up on this rock that is worth years of


Continued from page 8

each gem, resulting in a truly distinctive creation every time.

SJN: Did it surprise you that they looked so distinct when set with different colored stones?

Lisi: It’s always fascinating to witness how different colored stones can transform the appearance of a design. While I anticipated some variation, I was pleasantly surprised by the extent to which the choice of stones impacted the overall aesthetic of the Circles rings.

The white sapphire set in my Circles ring intrigued me with its sharp, clean, minimalist vibe. In juxtaposition, it enhanced the impression of color with that marvelous rubellite, and other beautiful stones I chose for the Circles rings.

SJN: Do you have a personal favorite colored stone from that collection?

Lisi: Oh, that’s a difficult question. You know, I love all of them. If I had to choose a favorite from the Circles collection, I would gravitate toward the mesmerizing depth of that vivid blue Tanzanite. There’s something undeniably captivating about the rich hue of high-quality Tanzanite.

Learn as You Go

SJN: With the Circles rings, did you learn who is most drawn to this collection?

Lisi: The Circles rings appeal to individuals who appreciate modern elegance and understated

your salary? Diamonds are hard, but treat them wrong and they will break.

This is just part of the day-today stress bench jewelers have to deal with. Treating the gems with the care they need and the urgent speed the store owner needs. When both realize they are on the same team and work together, then both of them and the business can profit from it.

Custom guru Joel McFadden is the owner of Joel McFadden Designs in Chapel Hill, NC. He developed pricing for custom jewelry and repairs for the IJO Prototype Store, opened a business which became a million-dollar store focusing on custom, was named MJSA’s first Mentor Jeweler, was the first director of the Council of Custom Jewelers, and is the creator of the Bench Jewelers Challenge. He is an industry writer and speaks at events. Available for CAD work, stone setting, and complete custom pieces for the trade. Contact Joel at MentorJeweler@gmail.com, 984-212-2217, JMDJewelry.com, Facebook and YouTube.

luxury. I’ve noticed that those drawn to this collection tend to have a discerning eye for design and a desire for pieces to effortlessly complement their personal look and style.

SJN: It’s said that designers learn something new with every collection they create - a new technique, a new way to balance the design, or something else. Did that occur when you created these rings?

Lisi: Absolutely, the creation of the Circles rings presented numerous opportunities for growth and exploration. From experimenting with new setting techniques to refining the balance of form and function, this and each collection offers valuable lessons that inform my future designs.

You know I love creating convertible pieces as well. This design can easily be transformed into a brooch or pendant.

The Future is Colorful

SJN: Since you’re likely thinking ahead to the next season coming up, can you give us an idea of what interests you at this time?

Lisi: Currently, I’m particularly intrigued by the interplay of contrasting colors and textures in jewelry design. Exploring unexpected combinations of stones and metals allows for endless possibilities and opens the door to truly innovative creations. It’s a more artisanal approach, treating stones and metals like the colors spread across a painter’s palette.

So there’s that, plus I’m improving the mechanism for the


Continued from page 14

World Center for Lab Grown Diamonds

Surat has recently emerged as the manufacturing hub for lab grown diamonds (LGD) worldwide, featuring many factories, producing approximately 1 million carats of lab grown diamonds per year, as well as LGD finished jewelry. Factories are able to cut the diamonds into new custom shapes, such as initials or animals - turtles and horses! They are also producing large carat and colored diamonds. Prime Minister Modi presented US First Lady Jill Biden a 7.5 carat lab grown diamond from Surat’s Greenlab in 2023.

International Press Conference - First Commercial Exposition for Lab Grown Diamonds at the Surat Bourse

I was the US coordinator for the first commercial expo for LGD at the Surat Bourse on April 17, 2024, hosting 43 buyers from 16 countries. The press conference was packed with buyer delegations from around the world, exhibitors, regional representatives for GJEPC and local, regional and national press, including The Times of India and the Indian Express. I spoke with representatives of both papers and was quoted in The Times of India. “Such events help the jewellers in the US directly connect with the diamond and jewellery manufacturers….This helps the buyers get the products at a good price and Indian sellers can better understand buyers’ needs.”

New Bullet Train Connecting Surat and Mumbai

Currently it takes 5 - 6 hours by car to travel the 185 miles from Surat to Mumbai. But that time


Continued from page 18

pieces to have transformable options. It’s exciting because I find collectors truly desire pieces with versatile functionality.

SJN: Finally, how do you see the colored stone sector evolving?

Lisi: I’ve witnessed soaring interest at global jewelry fairs like Madridjoya, Vicenza Oro, Turkish Jewelry Show, BSM Brasil, IGSJ India and Dubai, Singapore, and elsewhere.

As the jewelry industry continues to evolve, I believe we’ll see a growing appreciation for colored stone engagement rings among brides seeking unique alternatives to traditional diamond settings. These colorful rings allow for greater personal expression by the wearer.

Additionally, collectors are increasingly drawn to high-end jewelry featuring rare and exotic gemstones. They view them not only as exquisite adornments but also as valuable investments in their own right.

Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at diana@dianajarrett.com, visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).

may soon be drastically reduced. A rapid transit bullet train is under construction, scheduled for completion in 2027, that will reduce that time to one hour. What’s in the future? As bullet train collapses transportation time between the two rival bourses, perhaps Surat and Mumbai may start to function as a collaborating “super bourse”? Future developments will be fascinating to follow as they unfold.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning jewelry designer featured in over 100 stores nationally. To become a Jewel Couture LLC retailer, contact www.jeweljewel. com, 828-406-1105 or mia@jeweljewel.com. A recognized industry spokesperson, Mia also writes for several jewelry magazines and often is invited to speak at major national trade events. She recently launched a new marketing agency to help you sell online, TheJewelersMarketer.com.

pand into the rest of the world, breaking the global financial system with profound consequences. And while the sixteen idiots running the Fed keep indulging in self-congratulatory acts, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin (whose actual qualifications are as a Labor Economist, so we can’t blame her for the fact that she’s clueless about what really counts) famously asserts that the inflation we’re causing is “Transitory”, the hots spots that are most likely to ignite are now moving to the edge of war. It is not an accident that a hot war is now occurring in Europe, and that Iran and its proxies are now attacking Israel.

Worst of all, with growing social tensions now providing the tinder for ignition of wars throughout the globe, our current level of defense spending rests at a pathetic three and a half percent of GDP. By contrast, defense spending peaked at fortyseven and a half percent of GDP in 1945, because we were then fighting a war we had to win. But now, with global social unrest and emboldened enemies (keep an especially close eye on what happens as China increasingly asserts its rights over the Philippines in an area called the Second Thomas Shoal), America will have no choice but to dramatically ramp up military expenditures, and this will inevitably require additional deficit spending, pouring gasoline onto an already red-hot inflation fire.

In sum, with the Fed’s balance sheet currently standing at 7 trillion and headed higher as they attempt to reduce interest rates (in part to keep a weakened bank sec-

tor drowning in bad Commercial Real Estate loans afloat), and deficit spending at forty percent and moving higher, the stage is set for significant changes that will suddenly highlight the fragility of your company’s position in the economic ecosystem. The global social unrest that our macroeconomic mismanagement is now producing will inevitably serve as a catalyst for geopolitical instability, in turn creating a hinge in history. It’s unclear where this scenario will take us, but I’m betting that this does not turn out well.

In next month’s column, I’ll review strategies that may help to safeguard your company and your assets as we move into this new, potentially challenging economic era. I know this analysis seems a bit dark, but keep in mind the fact that the Chinese pictogram for “Crisis” requires drawing the forms for two words: “Danger” and “Opportunity”. Yes, there will be Danger, but if you can properly anticipate what’s coming and build the right plan, the Opportunity, though daunting, may yet produce a desirable outcome.

Class dismissed!

George Prout is a 50-year veteran in the jewelry business, having sold his first engagement ring as a 17 year-old sales associate working at Kay Jewelers in 1974. Since then he has worked for companies that rose to top three status nationally in sales volume to Independent Jewelry stores. Currently he is President of JB Bhanderi, the world’s largest CVD grower and maker of the Surreal Diamond brand. He can be reached at george@surrealdiamond.com.

38 Jewelry News • JuNe 2024
Southern Jewelry
Mid-America Jewelry

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