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Industry News: Power Outages Threaten Jewelers; GIA Teaches Artisanal Miners; WJA Connect; More October 16, 2019 (0 comments)


Power-Cutting Gangs, California Power Outages Pose Threats To Jewelry Stores

New York, NY—The Jewelers’ Security Alliance has issued a special bulletin detailing three significant Midwest and California jewelry store burglaries that involved interrupting power to the stores to disable their alarms and surveillance video. Additionally, JSA warns that planned power outages in California (designed to prevent wildfires) may put jewelers there at higher risk for burglary. (Image at left: The city of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge are seen from the Oakland Hills during the PG&E power outage in Oakland on October 10. Curbed SF photo by Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images).

JSA recommends stores in those areas follow these protocols:

  1. Request your local police to make extra runs and give extra attention to your jewelry store when the store is closed.
  2. Put all merchandise away in your safe.
  3. If your insurance permits it, consider placing high value items in a bank safe deposit box during this emergency.
  4. Hire an armed guard for when your store is closed.
  5. Without endangering your personal safety, make visits to your jewelry store at various times when the store is closed.

Recently, three burglaries occurred in New Albany, IN (near Louisville, KY), Gurnee, IL (Chicago area), and Los Angeles, CA area, where the stores’ power was cut and theirsafes or vaults were compromised. These all occurred between October 3 and 7. Here are some typical MO’s regarding power cut burglaries: 

  1. Jewelry stores targeted on weekends, or nights before the day the store is closed. Holidays are also high risk times.
  2. Burglars access the outside electrical panel and cut off power to the store, disabling alarms and camera systems.
  3. Burglars wait to see police or other response time, and then wait until police depart.
  4. Burglars wait until back-up battery is exhausted.
  5. Suspects are Chilean burglary crews reportedly based in California and Florida, but who travel throughout the United States.
  6. Suspects may cut through the roof, or break into the jewelry store from a neighboring business, but also may break open or pry open front or rear doors.
  7. Suspects may cut power to numerous jewelry stores in the same area and wait to observe response time and then identify best target store.

JSA recommends these 10 tips:  

  1. Jewelers must respond to all cases of power interruptions at their stores. 
  2. Make sure that your call list at the alarm company includes the owner and enough employees who will be available to respond, including during vacations, weekend and holiday nights, and at all other times. 
  3. Jewelers should not respond alone and need police to accompany them. 
  4. Police should be alerted that there may be burglars near the store watching to see the response to the power line cut.
  5. Jewelers should inspect their electrical box on a regular basis and report to police and JSA any sign of tampering with it even if the power is not cut off and no burglary occurred. Power-cutting gangs scout locations and when presented with numerous electrical boxes outside a building, will flick switches on and off to determine the correct box for the jewelry store.
  6. Fire regulations vary in different jurisdictions regarding placing secure locks on an outside electrical box. If you wish guidance, contact your local fire department.
  7. To determine if your electrical box has been tampered with, secure it closed with a colored zip tie. The burglary suspects have been known to place their own locks back on the electrical box after they have removed the existing lock and disconnected the power. If you use a colored zip tie, not one colored white, it is unlikely the suspects will have such a zip tie if they cut it, and you can tell if your box has been tampered with.
  8. You must have alarm protection for your store that covers all possible means of entry, including the roof and sidewalls. 
  9. You must have line security to protect you if your alarm system is disabled. 
  10. The interior and exterior of the premises must be checked, including the roof and all possible means of entry. 


GIA Commits $1.3 Million to Artisanal Mining Education Project

Carlsbad, CA—Building on a successful pilot and feedback from small-scale colored gemstone miners in Tanzania, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) will expand distribution of its innovative gem guide for artisanal miners to other communities and countries in Africa. The program is designed to help artisanal miners learn how to evaluate the rough gems they mine, to avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous buyers.

Speaking at the ICA Congress in Bangkok on Tuesday, GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques announced a four-year, $1.3 million commitment funded from the GIA endowment, to expand the program in Tanzania to Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zambia. Working with Pact, a Washington D.C.-based international development nonprofit organization with expertise in the region, GIA plans to reach 10,000 miners with educational information on how to evaluate rough gem quality. 

“This is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to bring information directly to artisanal miners right at the beginning of the gem and jewelry supply chain,” said Jacques. “We know that this investment will bring an invaluable benefit to miners, their families and the communities in which they live.”

The gem guide project began shortly after GIA Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. James Shigley saw the difficult working conditions of artisanal miners during a 2008 trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Working with GIA research and library staff, Dr. Shigley and Dona Dirlam, then-director of the GIA library, created the booklet Selecting Gem Rough: A Guide for Artisanal Miners. Developed in English and later translated into Swahili, the photo-rich booklet has images of the gemstones found in East Africa and illustrations of how to examine and evaluate rough gems. The booklet is waterproof and comes with a durable plastic tray that can be used to sort gems and do basic gemological evaluations. GIA piloted the program in 2016, working with Pact. 

“We found that for every dollar invested, there was a 12-fold social return that will last years into the future,” said Cristina M. Villegas, technical program manager for Pact’s Mines to Markets program. “With their new knowledge, miners improve their income, send their children to school, invest in their mines and their communities.”

Pact representative Norbert Massay, GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG) Marvin Wambua and GIA’s library director Robert Weldon explaining the gem guide to artisanal miners in MoroGoro, Tanzania.

GIA staff, including Robert Weldon, current director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center at GIA, and a major contributor to the development and content of the guide, trained more than 1,000 artisanal miners on how to use the guide and tray during a two-week period earlier this year in Tanzania. GIA’s initial efforts to provide information to small scale, artisanal miners came full circle when the GIA team visited the Tanzanian Association of Women Miners (TAWOMA), who participated in the very first training session for the guide.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the reaction of the miners as they learn the material. You instantly see that you’ve positively made a change in someone’s life,” said Weldon. “These transcendent moments make us so proud that we can provide artisanal miners with a gem guide that gives them the confidence to know their value in the market.”


WJA Introduces Connect, A Members-Only Online Community

New York, NY - The Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) introduces Connect, its members-only online platform, which went live earlier this year. Higher Logic, the site’s developer, says WJA Connect has seen more than double the activity in six months than such sites typically do in their early stages. 

WJA’s Connect was created as an online complement to the association’s traditional mission of helping women advance and develop professionally through networking, education, and leadership development. Many members who don’t live close to a WJA chapter or aren’t able to make live events still get a chance to collaborate, share knowledge, and have meaningful conversations through WJA Connect. Nearly half of all WJA members have created accounts and been active on the site.  

“WJA strives to create a seamless experience for our membership. When our members visit Connect, they know they’ll find a professional atmosphere, akin to our live networking and educational events,” says WJA executive director Jennifer Markas. “That’s due to WJA’s mission, plus active management by our community manager, Evelyn Stetzer of The Smithee Group.” 

Connect features discussion groups, including All Members, Industry Insights, and Design Corner, plus several specialized forums for leaders in WJA’s 20-plus chapters. Each member can create a profile detailing her or his professional accomplishments and talents, and there is also a member directory based on those profiles. Members can also post photos and learn about live events and webinars. 

“The conversations on Connect are of a higher quality than you might see in public forums,” says WJA membership coordinator Rachel Jurisz. “Visitors are looking for crowd-sourced guidance on everything from design and website management, to financial and operations insights for their businesses. Because of the depth and breadth of experience among our members, advice is soon shared.” Stetzer also points out that discussions covering universal questions remain live on the site for newer members to find and access later, adding long-term value and preserving the wisdom of the crowd. 

Beyond education, Connect also provides a space for far-flung members of the jewelry industry to network online. Future plans for Connect include starting more chapter forums, encouraging even higher participation and engagement in the community, and monitoring members’ needs so that new topics can be proposed. 

Connect is accessible to all WJA members. For information about membership, click here or contact Rachel Jurisz, 


SIHH Changes Name; Opens To Public

Geneva, Switzerland—The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) is changing the format of its exclusive Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) show. The show, which started in 1991, inspired the format of the American invitation-only shows such as Couture, Centurion, and JCK Luxury. SIHH, which changed from a spring date to January format 10 years ago, has also returned to a spring date and will run immediately prior to the Baselworld Fair, appeasing watch buyers who want to make only one trip to Switzerland each season. The rebranded SIHH will now be called Watches & Wonders Geneva and will run from April 25-29, with Baselworld running April 30-May 5. 

Related: SIHH, Baselworld To Realign Dates Starting In 2020

Although the public now will be allowed to enter, it won’t be cheap. Tickets will be CHF300 ($301) but will include the entire show and hospitality. The show also will incorporate a citywide element, with museums, tours, and horology lectures added to the mix in hopes of attracting a new generation of watch enthusiasts.


6th Mediterranean Gemmological & Jewellery Conference Set For Spring In Greece 

Vancouver, Canada, and Athens, Greece—The Sixth Mediterranean Gemmological & Jewellery Conference will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, from May 15- 17, 2020. Prior conferences have been held in Greece, Spain, Italy, Montenegro, and the 2019 event took place in Limassol, Cyprus, with 75 participants from 27 countries. 

The conferences, organized by Branko Deljanin of CGL Canadian Gemlab and George Spyromilios of IGL (Greece), combine a mixture of business and appraising topics with highly scientific seminars. The conferences spotlight trade issues and challenges, and offer solutions via workshops with standard and advanced affordable instruments and presentations by a range of leading industry figures. Participants include gemologists, jewelers, retailers, gem labs, appraisers, dealers, manufacturers and mining company representatives. 

The overall theme of the 2020 conference will be valuation and marketing of diamonds and gems. For detailed speaker and program information, and to register, visit or contact Branko Deljanin, conference chair, at

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