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RJO Next Generation of Independent Retailers Converge for New Experience

(Press Release) Next generation independent retail jewelers gathered from across the country for the second annual Retail Jewelers Organization’s Next Gen Experience.

Co-sponsored by RDI Diamonds, Stuller, Ostbye and Pancis Gems, the weekend brought together over 40 next-gen jewelers for focused, hands-on educational sessions.

Entitled “The RJO Next Generation Experience: Creating Ultimate Jewelers of the Future,” the program included topics about making choices, dealing with conflict, establishing a business vision, developing core values and the future of the industry.

RJO CEO Mary Peterson states, “Our vision for the experience was to create and engage. We created a curriculum of hands-on learning and interactive dialogue to aid the next generation of retail jewelers in preparing for the future of our industry and their business. We engaged participants to ensure continued learning and provided action items to implement when they return to their own stores.”

RJO member, Kelli Wirt, Wirt’s Jewelers, North Little Rock, AK, noted about her experience, “This event has been both fun and challenging. I walked away with tools to be a better leader in my business and my personal life. Not only did I come home with a binder full of tips and tricks, I also gained a whole new group of friends to call on for help. I can't stress enough how valuable this event was for me. I suggest all young people in RJO make it to the next one."

RJO’s Next Generation Advisory Board, developed in 2011, was also in attendance to help guide the participants and encourage networking.

Will Doland, an inaugural member of the Advisory Board states, “The Next Gen group is a fantastic resource for people new or getting into the business. The current owners have their own core set of friends and resources. We, as Next Gen, can get a network of peers much faster and more extensive than the previous generation.”

He continues, “This industry is so expansive. Having a group like this in which we can get advice quickly from trusted colleagues who have experienced the exact issues we deal with on a daily basis is so important. Knowing there is someone you can reach out to with issues provides so much peace of mind.”

For more information regarding the RJO Next Gen Experience, please contact RJO headquarters at (800) 247-1774 or

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Indo-USA Business Development Conference Concludes

India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council successfully concluded the first US-Based Indo/US Jewelry Business Development Conference on May 3, wrapping up three and a half days of meetings between the largest U.S. jewelry-specific retail chains and leading Indian diamond and diamond jewelry manufacturers.

A central component of the Council's 2015 strategic plan for marketing is to improve business between its members and their U.S. retail customers.

Developed to bring a select group of companies together to focus on issues of common interest, the Conference hosted GJEPC members -- many of them De Beers sightholders and Rio Tinto Diamond’s Select Diamantaires, ranking among the biggest diamond jewelry manufacturers in the world -- and U.S. retailers representing over 15 percent of annual U.S. fine jewelry retail sales by value.

Vipul Shah, GJEPC’s Chairman said, “We envision this type of event as an ongoing platform for members of this most critical link in the international fine jewelry supply chain to build one-on-one sourcing relationships and to address broader issues to increase efficiency and profitability within the sourcing process.”

(Press Release) "The U.S. is the world's largest jewelry retail market, and these top retailers are our most important customers," said Sohil Kothari, Director at Fine Jewellery Mfg., Mumbai, who chaired the event's Manufacturer's Committee.

"We are extremely pleased with the results. Manufacturers and retailers had fruitful individual meetings and worked excellently as a group to address issues of mutual concern."

On the supply side, manufacturers included KGK Creations, Kama Schacter, Supergems and Uni-Design. On the retail side attendees included Sterling, Reeds of NC, IJO and Ross Simons.

At a joint supplier-retailer moderated panel session, the groups focused on the need to create an industry-collective marketing and advertising program to fill the void left by De Beers when it curtailed its longstanding policy of broad-based advertising and promotion in the North American market.

Conference leadership pledged to report the work accomplished in the session to GJEPC leadership to ensure the new coalition's perspective is represented in current talks the Council is participating in at the global level. Attending suppliers and retailers said this demonstrates the value of continuing the Conference series and related ongoing activity as a forum to address such issues.

"Indian supply to U.S. retail is the single largest link in the international fine jewelry supply chain. We're honored to have produced and to be spearheading this conference series as a dedicated working force to tackle issues critical to the ongoing interests of both groups," says Whitney Sielaff, co-founder and Strategic Director of S&B Partners, which organized the conference, and who served as moderator and co-host for the event.

Opening the conference, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India’s Chicago office, welcomed the retailers and suppliers and pledged the support of his office and reiterated India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for the diamond and jewelry sector at the recent World Diamond Conference held in New Delhi due to its huge employment potential and export focus.

Sayeed acknowledged the role of the GJEPC in fostering ongoing trade development both in his region and throughout the U.S. and India.

Keynote presentations spanned topics of importance to both stakeholder groups. Benjamin Smithee, Chief Strategy Officer, RELEVENTS, New York, and former principal of Spych Market Analytics, Dallas, provided the opening keynote, delivering his presentation on “Today's Changing Jewelry Consumer.”

Smithee dissected the mindset and actions of current (Gen X & Gen Y) and emerging fine jewelry consumers (Millennials), including how they share information and influence their friends, and formulated a plan for what jewelers need to do to adapt their businesses to build a more engaging and connected presence in their customers' intellectual and emotional real estate, heads, hearts and e-wallets.

Ben Janowski, principal, Janos Consultants, New York, delivered the Industry Keynote: "The Ugly, the Bad, the Good...and the Maybes."

Janowski's state of the industry address explored critical industry trends and dynamics affecting the major U.S. retailers and their suppliers, from finance and commodity prices to determining and understanding our competition and the urgency of our immediate challenges and opportunities.

Barbara Raleigh, principal, International Design Source, New York, addressed product innovation in her presentation on "The Design and Fashion Imperative."

Raleigh provided a detailed understanding into what makes saleable jewelry, including a review of current fashion trends (why are they important, where they are spotted, how they're translated, what are the key factors, who can do this), insights into understanding the customer (who are they, why they shop, what they're looking for, age/lifestyle, where they're buying); and understanding the competition (what they're offering and doing that you're not, what you can do to stay ahead of them).

The conference concluded with a Town Hall-style meeting where participants provided feedback on the event's strengths and weaknesses and considered topics to address at future events.

Overall, suppliers and retailers expressed high levels of satisfaction and called for planning to begin on the 2016 event. Rick Bannerot, Marketing & Logistics Director at S&P Partners and co- organizer of the Conference said, “We were delighted with the genuine spirit of cooperation and frank communications that developed both within the one-on-one meetings between the retailers and the manufacturers and the enthusiasm and effort the conference attendees put in during the panel sessions, networking opportunities, and round table discussions at meals pertaining to the critical Indo/US trade partnership issues & opportunities.

“In particular, attendees engaged with our three keynote speakers and spent a meaningful amount of time delving further into the areas of the emerging consumer, the "state-of-the-state" of the Indo/US jewelry business and the imperatives of fashion and design in today's jewelry.”

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Tom Byelick Named National Sales Manager for Phil Graviel

(Press Release) Gary Austein, Vice President of the Royal Chain Group, announced today that Tom Byelick has been appointed National Sales Manager for the company’s Phillip Gavriel brand.

Byelick has a solid history of concept selling for high-end jewelry brands with over 23 years experience representing Hearts on Fire, Rolex, Cartier and Levian.

“Our goal is to build our nationally advertised Phillip Gavriel designer line into a major force in the industry,” says designer Phillip Gabriel Maroof.

“Tom brings us the perfect combination of experience and enthusiasm that we need to achieve our goal.”

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Peter Smith Named President of Vibhor Gems

Former Hearts on Fire executive Peter Smith moves to Vibhor Gems.
Industry veteran Peter Smith has been named President of Vibhor Gems. The former Hearts On Fire executive will join the New York based jewelry manufacturer in time for market week in Las Vegas. Vibhor was founded in 2000 and has emerged as an industry leader in machine-made bands and fine jewelry.

Vibhor Gems is a manufacturer of precision-made diamond-bands and fine jewelry based in New York City. Founded in 2000 by Manish and Neelu Dhadda, the company specializes in high-quality private label diamond jewelry. All Vibhor products are manufactured in the US and distributed through a network of independent specialty retailers.

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Persona Will Launch Peanuts Collaboration at JCK Las Vegas

(Press Release) The Persona brand will present its exclusive new collection, “Peanuts by Persona,” at JCK Las Vegas.

The collection is comprised of 18 sterling silver beads and charms featuring the iconic Peanuts characters.

Available in stores late August, the launch will be followed by a holiday collection to be released online and in-stores in November.

Also featured, is a sterling silver Persona bracelet with the Peanuts by Persona logo on its signature barrel lock and the collection comes with Peanuts-branded packaging to commemorate these unique keepsakes.

“The iconic Peanuts brand aligns perfectly with the family values we represent here at Persona. We are excited to offer consumers the opportunity to treasure pieces from this collection and take a trip down memory lane”, says Neil Travis, President of First Jewelry Limited, the exclusive distributor of Persona.

All beads and charms in the “Peanuts by Persona” collection are hand-crafted of sterling silver, and feature Austrian crystal, hand-painted enamel and Italian glass.

This collection will be available at and at select Persona retailers across North America.

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