When Bad Things Happen to Good People
It seems the jewelry industry is suddenly coping with a lot of serious issues. Many may wonder, Why us? Jewelers sell a product that marks happy occasions, so it seems unfair to be burdened with so many heavy issues.
It started a few years ago with conflict diamonds. Now theres the war with Iraq and an aftermath many retailers worry will affect jewelry purchases. To top it off, criminal invasions of jewelers homes are on the rise. What the heck is going on? Are the gods conspiring against this ancient and venerable industry?
Of course we know this isnt true. But its important to know how to alter customs and habits to stay safe and prevent criminal acts both near and far. Many of you are learning to make sure your sources comply with the new voluntary certification system set up by the Kimberley Process to halt the trade of conflict diamonds. By keeping records, you can show your customers the industry has done everything it can to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond stream.
Youre also learning how to screen purchases to comply with the antimoney-laundering provisions of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, which goes into effect later this year. Only retail jewelers buying more than $50,000 worth of jewelry from non-industry sources (such as the general public) will be required to comply, but all of you should screen sellers to ensure youre not unwittingly taking part in a money-laundering scheme (Patriot Act Exempts Many Jewelers, p. 76).
Finally, the industry is extremely fortunate to have organizations such as the Jewelers Security Alliance looking out for security needs. The alliance issued an alert and then a follow-up in March after seeing an increase in home invasions of jewelers. JSAs common-sense advice on how to keep your and your family safe should go a long way toward allaying fears about this troublesome development (JSA Issues Alerts on Home Invasions; New Cases Raise Concerns, p. 80).
Its possible criminals are trying these home invasions because they think law enforcement is distracted with homeland security. One of the best pieces of advice JSA offers is to let your local police know about the recent home invasions and the special security issues you face. Though police are concerned about terrorism, they know their local beats are still important and will be grateful for your heads-up so they can do their jobs better.
Its also important at times like these to focus on positive news. We report in this issue that diamond jewelry sales rose 5% in 2002 (Diamond Jewelry Sales Rise in 2002, p. 28), an incredible performance given the economy. Sterling Jewelers, the U.S. arm of U.K.-based Signet Group and the second largest jewelry chain in the country, also reported its 2002 same-store sales rose 5.4% another impressive piece of news.
So be safe and try not to worry too much. And keep your name out there through effective marketing, promotions and advertising. Its clear that sales in 2003 will go to those who make the most noise in the marketplace, as diamond marketers and Sterling have proven. Dont let the bad news drown out the message you offer consumers: you sell a product that provides a small piece of joy in a troubled world.
Peggy Jo Donahue