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Industry News: GSI’s Azar On TV; Edge Retail Academy Expands; CJDG Remembers Edelstein; More January 11, 2017 (0 comments)


GSI Executive Talks Diamonds To More Than Three Million Viewers

New York, NY—Debbie Azar (left), co-founder of Gemological Science International (GSI), an independent global gemological organization, recently completed a large media tour to educate consumers, dispel diamond-buying myths, and talk about all the good that diamonds do. Her tour took place in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Azar’s interviews have aired on more than 140 television stations across the country as well as several radio stations, and reached more than three million viewers throughout the United States. Many of the interviews extended beyond their allotted time as the media personalities wished to continue and explore the topic further.

Azar’s goal was to educate consumers and dispel misconceptions of buying diamonds, especially during the holidays. In her interviews, Azar stressed the importance of using a professional gemological lab for diamond certification, even when shopping with a trusted jeweler.

She also stressed the rarity of natural diamonds and the good that natural diamonds do in otherwise poor countries where many mines are located.

“Botswana, Namibia, and other African countries rely on diamond mining and related industries not only for job creation, but as a source of financing infrastructure projects, building schools, hospitals, providing health and educational services for the populations and laying a foundation for other industries,” she explained.

Azar’s interviews aired on television and radio stations and online in more than two-thirds of all the major and secondary media markets across the country.

Watch one example of her interviews on WTKR-TV in Hampton Roads, VA.


The Edge Retail Academy Expands With Promotions, New Team Members, And New Offerings

Omaha, NE—The Edge Retail Academy (ERA) jewelry consulting company has expanded with the addition of Kevin Sweeney as a new business advisor and has promoted Sherry Smith to director of business development and Becka Johnson Kibby to director of operations. The ERA is also extending its service offerings to include a new Business Academy Program, newly enhanced vendor services, and greater access for its retail clientele to all of the business advisors and specialists on the ERA team. 

“We are excited to welcome Kevin to the team,” says David Brown, president of The Edge Retail Academy. “His expertise and experience spanning three decades in the jewelry industry will provide immeasurable value to our retail clientele.

Formerly of Hearts on Fire and Shreve, Crump & Low, Sweeney brings over 29 years of jewelry business acumen to the ERA team. His results-oriented approach led to a 20% sales growth in key markets for HOF and a 30% increase in bridal sales for SC&L in Boston. He successfully increased stock turn and helped differentiate both brands from their competitors.  Sweeney’s extensive leadership, sales management and inventory optimization experience give him useful insights to offer retailers to improve their GMROI (gross margin return on investment) and to keep their sales staff motivated.  His unique perspective adds real value to the ERA team and to all its clientele.

“The extension of our Vendor Services Program, including the new Vendor Pulse, now run by Sherry Smith, will offer terrific value and build on her already stellar work with our vendor clients,” Brown added. “And with Becka at the helm of operations, our team and our partners are sure to succeed with ease and efficiency.”

In her new role, Smith will lead ERA’s continued expansion into the area of vendor relations. She brings 25 years of industry experience to the role, having served as principal partner in her own retail stores before joining The Edge. The ERA Vendor Services Program offers a unique series of performance evaluation modules that provide vendors with a macro view of inventory performance across the jewelry market. The new Vendor Pulse metrics, along with strategy and consulting from ERA business advisors, give vendors the necessary tools to achieve increased sales and higher GMROI. Vendor Pulse offers vendors real time sell-through data, allowing them to identify their top selling styles by stock turn, units sold, and average retail sale.

Sherry Smith, left, and Becka Johnson Kibby, right.

As director of operations, Kibby will continue to lead the Academy’s efforts and has facilitated greater access to all the team’s business advisors and specialists for every new retail client who partners with ERA. Kibby has also been instrumental in enhancing key offerings that differentiate ERA from its competitors, including the highly popular free Business Opportunity Analysis, which highlights key areas in which retailers have opportunities to grow or are currently at risk. Kibby has also improved the Business Academy for 2017 with enhanced benefits for the participating retailers. 

For more information, visit To schedule an appointment or consultation during the Centurion Jewelry Show in Scottsdale, AZ from January 28 – February 1, 2017, please contact Becka Johnson Kibby at or 714-925-2456.


Contemporary Jewelry Design Group Announces New Cindy Edelstein Memorial Auction at the 2017 Couture Show

Las Vegas, NV—The Contemporary Jewelry Design Group (CJDG) announces the inaugural Cindy Edelstein Memorial Charity Auction will take place on Saturday evening, June 3, 2017, at the COUTURE Show in Las Vegas. 

The CJDG in cooperation with the COUTURE Show will conduct an online auction of jewelry donated by CJDG members. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Jewelers For Children charity and to the Cindy Edelstein Fund of the Women’s Jewelry Association. The auction has the consent and support of Cindy Edelstein’s family and friends.

For many years, Edelstein ran a similar auction in Las Vegas; this auction is both a tribute to her and a way for CJDG to give back to the jewelry community. Edelstein died unexpectedly of heart failure on January 24, 2016.

Details of the online auction site and donated pieces will be forthcoming. The dollar amount raised will be announced at the event on Saturday evening, June 3. For more information, please contact Marylouise Lugosch, Executive Director of the CJDG at


MJSA Launches Council of Custom Jewelers as Part of New Custom Design Program

Attleboro, MA--MJSA introduces the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers as part of a wide-ranging program to advance the art and consumer appreciation of custom jewelry design.

Chaired by Lee Krombholz, the owner of Krombholz Jewelers and Just Like You Designs in Cincinnati, OH, the council comprises some of the leading jewelers currently engaged in the business of custom design: Gary Dawson, Gary Dawson Designs, Eugene, OR; David Dorian, Dorian Jewelers, Watertown, MA; Christopher Duquet, Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry Design, Evanston, IL; David Holloway, Holloway Designs, Farmington, AR; Lisa Krikawa, Krikawa Jewelry Designs, Tucson, AZ; Klaus Kutter, A Jour Jewelry, Bristol, RI; Tom McLaughlin, TEM Designs, Liverpool, NY; Dawn Muscio, D. Muscio Designs, Atlanta, GA; Travis Serio, Stuller/Gemvision, Lafayette, LA; Greg Stopka, JewelSmiths, Pleasant Hill, CA; and Jim Tuttle, Green Lake Jewelry Works, Seattle, WA.

Together they will helpguide MJSA as it undertakes initiatives to educate consumers about custom design options and ensure that jewelers have the training needed to achieve the highest levels of craftsmanship. Three initiatives have been targeted to begin the program:

1. Develop and promote a new way of defining custom jewelry by tiered levels. As many Council members note, the popularity of personalized jewelry design has spawned numerous businesses offering what they call "custom" jewelry, with varying results. "Almost every jewelry store in my city claims to do custom jewelry now, but the experience and outcome can vary widely," Krombholz says. "Many simply take orders, while others who try to develop a design don't have the expertise to create well-crafted jewelry."

The result: a bad experience for consumers, who become confused and even fearful about the whole custom concept.

In addition to establishing a basic definition of custom jewelry, MJSA and the council will promote a three-tiered system in which custom design projects can be grouped according to the level of design involved. Spearheaded by Jim Tuttle, the triad ranges from "Full Custom" designs made from scratch to "Made to Order" pieces in which existing designs are modified only by the customer's choice of metal and/or gemstones.

"By creating and publicizing standardized levels, custom jewelers can better stand apart from 'order takers' and create a better understanding of true custom design among consumers," Krombholz says.

2. Promote education and craftsmanship through MJSA Mentor Jewelers. MJSA and the council have created a new designation, the MJSA Mentor Jeweler, which is open to any MJSA member who has shown a long-term commitment to sharing their custom-design expertise—whether through articles, seminars, webinars, classroom teaching, or individual instruction—and pledges to continue those efforts.

"By formalizing the process and recognizing those who are contributing their knowledge to help advance the profession, we hope to spur more jewelers into passing along their wisdom and knowledge," Krombholz says. Mentor Jewelers will also be able to contact MJSA for assistance with such tasks as sourcing images or obtaining research materials for presentations, articles, and classes.

3. Create and launch a consumer-facing website with a guide to MJSA Custom Jewelers. This site, scheduled to launch by the end of 2017, will serve as a primary resource for consumers interested in learning more about custom design and finding the right jeweler for their needs. In addition to explaining the levels of custom (with illustrations), it will include a searchable database of MJSA members who offer custom design services, which will be identified by level.

"MJSA has long been a place where serious custom jewelers have found a home," says Krombholz, who, in addition to chairing the council, serves as a vice chair of the MJSA board of directors. "These initiatives, along with the development of the council, are just a continuation of MJSA's efforts to advance custom jewelry and benefit us jewelers—no organization has our best interests more at heart." 

To learn more about the Council of Custom Jewelers and its initiatives, go to or call 1-800-444-MJSA (6572).

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