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Industry News: Celebrity Stylist O’Connor Launches Line; Diamond Smuggler Nabbed; More December 28, 2016 (0 comments)


Celebrity Jewelry Stylist Michael O’Connor Launches Collection With JTV

Knoxville, TN—Renowned celebrity stylist, commentator, and jewelry expert Michael O’Connor (left) is now going to be the name behind the jewelry as well as in front of the camera. Jewelry Television (JTV) broadcast retailer announces the debut of its exclusive Michael O'Connor for Bella Luce collection, the first design collaboration with O'Connor. JTV and O’Connor will debut the collection on January 3, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on JTV. (Find your local station on the JTV Channel Finder.)

O'Connor, one of America’s top jewelry stylists, boasts more than three decades of experience in the jewelry and fashion industry. "Michael has always been at the forefront of jewelry trends and is someone who has influenced celebrity style for many years," said Jill Johnson, JTV’s vice president of marketing, "so we know our customers are going to love each piece in this new collection."

The collection has the look and feel of luxurious red-carpet designs, crafted in sterling silver with Eterno™ accents, and stamped with O'Connor's signature logo. Additionally, a pink Bella Luce jewel is tucked within the interior of many of his designs.

"As a brand for passionate jewelry advocates, JTV is the perfect partner for this collection," said Michael O'Connor. "This is an exciting time and I'm looking forward to sharing these pieces with the JTV family."


In Memoriam: Clyde Duneier, Plumb Club and Jewelers For Children Visionary

Boca Raton, FL—Clyde Duneier, a New York City jewelry manufacturer known for his industry leadership and philanthropy, died December 18 at age 88.

Clyde Duneier as many in the industry remember him. Image: National Jeweler

Duneier was instrumental in the formation of both the Plumb Club, a group of large jewelry manufacturers, and in the charity that eventually became Jewelers For Children. In 1983, he retired from leadership of his company Clyde Duneier Inc. and founded the Jewelers Charity Fund to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

In 1994, Duneier partnered with Nate Light—then CEO of Sterling/Signet and another leading industry philanthropist—to launch the “Party With A Purpose” at the JCK Las Vegas show. That event led to the founding of Jewelers For Children, and morphed into its annual Facets Of Hope gala.

He is survived by Estelle, his wife of 65 years, sons Todd, Dana, and Marc, daughters-in-law Ivy, Debra, Sweta, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Two of his children and two grandchildren run the business today.


Philadelphia Police Nab Suspected Conflict Diamond Trafficker Selling Fakes

Philadelphia, PA—A three-year international probe of a suspected Namibian smuggler of conflict diamonds ended with a surprise ending: the diamonds were fake.

When the suspect, real estate agent Karl Christian Loibenboeck, arrived in Philadelphia in November, he was taken into custody by federal agents. Last week he pled not guilty to one count of wire fraud for trying to pass off topaz stones as 100 carats of diamonds.

Five white topaz stones masquerading as non-Kimberley Angolan diamonds. Image: Philadelphia Inquirer

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Loibenboeck was bound for Philadelphia last year when South African authorities arrested him at the airport in Cape Town, South Africa, and discovered what they thought were five rough diamonds stuffed in his underwear.

Prosecutors say Loibenboeck, whom investigators first encountered online in 2013, made clear from the start that he had both Angolan diamonds not Kimberly Process-certified and connections in Namibia who would look the other way when he brought them through customs. The sting was part of ongoing U.S. efforts to stanch the flow of any blood diamonds from conflicted areas in Africa.

But when the South African police confiscated the five stones last year, they discovered those were fake—and Loibenboeck managed to steal them back and try again.

"I paid people to get back my goods. That's how things work around here. As long as you've got the money and you've got the connections, anything is possible this side of the world," he said in court filings.

He reached back out to his Philadelphia buyers: federal agents posing as representatives for a diamond wholesaler. His attorneys claim the agents encouraged the crime, saying anybody who wants to buy conflict diamonds is crooked to begin with and nobody but the agents planned to buy them.

Loibenboeck is being held without bond at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia. A trial date had not been set at press time.   

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