IJO Goes to Washington

February 27, 2003

IJO Goes to Washington

At least half the retail membership of the Independent Jewelers Organization attended IJO's semiannual buying show in Washington, DC, Feb. 22-26, despite challenging weather and the heightened terror alert.

IJO's goal is to bring at least 70% of its member-retailers to shows in the future, Chairman Richard Swetz said, in part through a newly announced upgrade in IJO's travel rewards program. Jewelers get airline and hotel awards to bring them to IJO's buying shows that increase in value, depending how much merchandise they buy through the year from IJO suppliers.

IJO announced its April Antwerp buying trips, in which retailers visit IJO's Antwerp diamond suppliers in a program that includes major promotional opportunities. One of the Antwerp junkets includes a side trip to Italy, where jewelers will tour two factories sponsored by IJO supplier Aurafin-OroAmerica. Aurafin-OroAmerica also helps retailers run subsequent Italian jewelry promotions in their stores. This year, members will see the unveiling of an Italian gold line created for them by Aurafin.

The Diamond Promotion Service introduced its second-annual program exclusively for IJO jewelers. At a breakfast and seminar, DPS representative Debbie Hiss outlined the program called "Make a Bigger Statement." It features jewelry made with a focal diamond of a half-carat or more from eight IJO suppliers: Atomic Creations, Claar Brothers, Eugene Biro, Guild Diamond Products, IDI Design Group, Kattan, Kirchner, and Leddel International. IJO jewelers who purchase at least $5,000 worth of the jewelry from at least one vendor get a merchandising package featuring TV and radio ads, In-case displays, counter cards, and a CD with images for creating ads and other promotions. The first 100 participating stores receive a DPS educational program on selling bigger diamonds and the five top purchasers win an in-store DPS training session.

IJO introduced an enhanced promotion for its branded Spirit of Flanders diamond, in which participating members receive additional diamonds to sell, countertop and in-case signs, displays explaining the benefits of the Flanders cut versus a standard round brilliant cut and new ad materials.

IJO's Masterpiece Program, a collection of jewelry exclusive to IJO members, will introduce new pieces at IJO's summer show in Orlando, July 19-23.

Along with a four-day buying show, IJO retail members could attend a full day of seminars ont the day before the buying show opened, including Gemological Institute of America advanced gemology courses and business, marketing, store design and sales training programs. On the opening day of the buying show, keynote speaker Thomas Winninger also presented two programs on increasing market share.

Swetz was honored for his fifth anniversary leading IJO, and jewelers celebrating significant membership anniversaries were recognized. The IJO Ultimate Appreciation Award went to IJO vendor Steve Bender of Aurafin-OroAmerica.

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