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<em>Jeweller</em> looks at the <em>Hits & Misses</em> of the jewellery industry in 2013
Jeweller looks at the Hits & Misses of the jewellery industry in 2013

Jeweller's Hits & Misses 2013

As jewellery retailers get set for, what they hope to be, a very busy Christmas and New Year trading season, COLEBY NICHOLSON reviews the past 12 months with his annual list of the jewellery industry’s highs and lows.

It was a year full of surprises, revelations, shocks and, in some cases, plain stupidity for the Australian and New Zealand jewellery industries.

So, all in all it was a year just like every other year!

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time for my annual review of the year’s highs and lows as well as an end-of-year update on some previously reported stories. As always we’ve attempted to report on serious matters affecting retailers and the wider jewellery industry and, at the same time, have a little fun along the way. 
 
Therefore we hope you enjoy our last effort for the year before we close for the Christmas and New Year break … 2013 Hits & Misses!

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BIGGEST SURPRISE

Choosing the biggest surprise of the year was easy! Well, actually it was easy last year, which is why it was easy again this year!
 
Confused? Let me explain. 
 
It was only four months ago when Karin Adcock announced that she was back in business! The former president of Pandora Australia announced her return to the Australian jewellery industry, which caught everyone by surprise, especially given that the news came only a week out from the Sydney Jewellery Fair.
 
Ironically, it was exactly a year ago when we declared Adcock the winner of the 2012 Biggest Surprise award when she stood down as Pandora’s president and “face” in Australia. Having started the business with her husband Brooke in 2004, Pandora Australia went onto become, as they say, the stuff of legends and her resignation in May 2012 took most of the industry by surprise. 
 
So, after having “sat out” of the jewellery industry for more than 12 months, presumably as part of contractual arrangements, Adcock dropped another bombshell in late August by, not only declaring that she was back in business, but even more surprisingly she had secured the distribution rights for three Danish jewellery ranges, with one being a new product range from Trollbeads, Pandora’s major competitor! 
 
In keeping with her own, and Pandora’s Danish heritage, Adcock’s new company, House of Brands (HOB) had acquired the distribution rights to Danish ranges: Julie Sandlau, byBiehl and X by Trollbeads. 
 
At the time Adcock explained that X by Trollbeads, was, “completely new and unique and that it’s been developed by Trollbeads to be very different to their normal charms and bracelets range,” adding, “We were approached to become the exclusive Australian and New Zealand distributor and we only accepted because it’s so different and there’s nothing like it in the market.” 
 
Adcock is acutely aware that many people query why she decided to re-enter the jewellery business, especially at a time when the local market is looking for the “next Pandora” or a hot new product or trend that would provide a major stimulation to the industry.
 
She was quick to caution anyone who suggested that the success of Pandora could or would be replicated again. “I am not sure there can ever be another Pandora and I am not setting out to, nor do I expect to, have the success that we had with Pandora. It was a unique situation and a specific point in time, and my aim is for HOB to be a master distributor of a wide range of products, so we are not trying to prove anything,” Adcock said. 
 
Result: A little too early to call though most hope for a Hit! 
 
Previous winners
 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

It would have been too easy to announce this year’s winner as Zamel’s, given they won the same award last year. I mean, only two weeks ago the retail giant lost its appeal against the earlier conviction, which probably cost the company at least $50,000.
 
As I wrote last year, “I dunno about you, but I don’t think fighting the government is a good idea.”
 
So rather than take the easy road this year, we think the award should go to Roger and Georgette Aznavorian. The elderly couple was charged with stealing 180 jewellery items valued at $2.4 million that were left at their jewellery store in Caulfield North, Melbourne. 
 
The jewellery and watches were allegedly stolen between 2008 and 2010 from 170 customers who had left the items for repair, valuation or adjustment. The pair was arrested and charged in February this year following a two-year police investigation. 
 
During one court hearing, the Herald Sun reported that magistrate Angela Bolger said the number of witnesses must be reduced from 170 to a more manageable level. "On its face value, calling 170 witnesses to say I own the goods, I handed them over and I didn't get them back, doesn't serve any purpose," Bolger explained.
 
The Herald Sun subsequently reported eventually nearly 100 witnesses were called during an eight-day hearing where court documents revealed Mr Aznavorian was accused of stealing jewellery valued at $60,590 from Toorak philanthropist Helen Liberman, a $30,000 gold Piaget watch from Sam Smorgon, and diamonds and jewellery valued $421,050 from Nicola Fiorenza.
 
The alleged victims described leaving valuable jewellery at the store and then being unable to collect it with Mr Aznavorian allegedly employing a range of tactics to stall the item's return. One woman who claimed to have lost her engagement ring said she had been a customer of the Aznavorians' jewellery store for more than 15 years.
 
Police allege many of the items were pawned at Tinson Jewellers in the city and Chapel Street Pawnbrokers. The couple will return to court in April 2015 for what is expected to be a four-week trial.
 
As if it’s not bad enough to be stealing from your customers, but 170 of them! What were they thinking?
 
Result: Miss
 
Previous winners
2011 John Abolins and Jewellery World, for, a little like Zamels, making the same mistake twice!
 

WTF OMG

I must admit, I was a little worried that it would be hard to beat last year’s winner: “Lesbian love triangle defrauds jeweller of $1.4 million”. But no, we have another classic this year. 
 
Let me paint the scene for you …  one guy says to the other, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s go rob a jewellery store and stop off along the way for some KFC!”
 
It was early January when we reported on the two thieves who botched their “well planned” New Year’s Eve jewellery heist by smashing through a communal wall expecting to enter Wrights Jewellers store, located in Beaudesert, southwest of Brisbane. However these clever dicks found themselves in the neighbouring KFC store, where the pair staged an impromptu hold-up and reportedly left with about $2,600. 
 
“WTF”, I hear you exclaim! Well, wait, it gets worse. “No, OMG, it can’t, can it?” 
 
Yes, prior to this debacle, the bungling burglars decided to throw car spark plugs at the jewellery store windows in an attempt to break the glass and when that proved unsuccessful they mistakenly broke into an Animal Welfare League Opportunity Shop.
 
Therefore, it was the third attempt that eventuated in the KFC store break and enter and, not surprisingly, the two men were later apprehended by Queensland police and charged with robbery after a local resident noted their car’s registration plate. 
 
According to Queensland Police, Peter Welsh, 32, and Dwayne Doolan, 31, were arrested after a raid on Welsh's Woodridge home and charged with the New Year's Eve robbery. The story made international “headlines” with many websites making light of the bungled jewellery heist with reference to “gold nuggets” and other quips. 
 
But wait, that’s not the end of the story? It gets worse!
 
“WTF X 2?” I hear you ask. 
 
In a chain of extraordinary events, the family-run jewellery store was not in the clear. In the early hours of Thursday 3 January 2013, just three days later, a successful break-and-enter took place with thieves stealing stock valued at $30,000.
 
“The police don’t think they’re connected, although they [thieves] could well have heard of the attempt on Monday and thought, well we’ll go back and make sure of it this time,” Wrights Jewellers’ owner Ken Wright told Jeweller.
 
He said that a security camera showed two people breaking through the store’s front glass door before entering the premises. The robbers were reportedly in and out of the store within one minute. 
 
“It was quite a devastating thing to actually see it unfold in front of you when you’re checking the [security camera] recording,” Wright said.
 
On a positive note, the thieves may have stolen a lot more items had the store not been so meticulous when packing up for the day. “We have always been very careful about what we leave in the window overnight. There’s normally no stock, we just put promotional and advertising information out,” Wright explained. 
 
Despite an unlucky start to the year, Wright is happy to report that his jewellery store has not played victim to any more robberies – or bungled robberies – in 2013. The store; however, now has tougher glass and an improved CCTV system. You can never be too careful!
 
Result: Miss – take this card and go directly to jail!
 
Previous winners
 

BEST PUNCH UP

Now this was a tough decision this year, largely because it was always going to be difficult to outdo the last two winners of this popular award.
 
I mean, how could you beat last year’s effort, when the JAA’s own CEO Ian Hadassin decided to email all retail members encouraging Australian diamond buyers to source their goods from an overseas online operation rather than work with, and support, local diamond dealers and/or his own JAA members.
 
Hadassin’s actions came as a complete surprise to the JAA board and the furor went on for weeks with phone calls and emails flying around the industry with the JAA being accused of working against its own members and even attacking diamond dealers. 
 
That was a pretty good punch up, but perhaps not quite as good as the year long “donnybrook” in 2011 when the New Zealand jewellery industry took it upon itself to initiate a brawl that resembled the famous 13-year Hatfield and McCoy feud in America. At one stage during the fracas one Kiwi said: "We can't even remember why we don't like each other!"
 
So it is with that backdrop that we declare the 2013 Best Punch Up to be more like a family squabble. 
 
It was March when we reported that a new “progressive” jewellery group had been formed after dissatisfaction had emerged with the Facebook Young Jewellers Group (YJG). The YJG was established in June 2011 and its membership grew quickly but there had been increasing disenchantment over a small minority of members accused of deliberately upsetting other members or  “trolling”.
 
Trolling is an internet term used to describe someone who posts inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response and/or disrupting normal discussion about a topic.
 
The disharmony led, in part, to the formation of the ANZ Progressive Jewellery Group (ANZPJG), which has a simple mission statement, “This group has been created to encourage and educate jewellers of all persuasions with up to date information on tools and techniques. We do not discriminate against students or apprentices, bench jewellers, setters, engravers or masters.”
 
But the new group’s next statement was more telling, “Trolling will not be tolerated. Condescending dogma will not be tolerated.”
 
Interestingly, Jeweller’s report on the matter caused an uproar, with the YJG Facebook page lighting up like a Christmas tree, though the hullabaloo was short lived.
 
Ten months on, the two groups have created their own niches and followings with many people being members of both groups. The ANZPJG quickly gained more than 300 members while the older YJG has achieved 1,1000 members.
 
Since then, ANZPJG has been true to its word and has been quick to act on inappropriate posts while it’s said that member behaviour on YJG has dramatically changed partly as a result of the ensuing debate about trolling and because some members moved out or were moved-on.
 
A third Facebook group for manufacturing jewellers was subsequently formed which is dedicated to handmade jewellery. That group now has 120 members. 
 
And while some might argue that three jewellery groups is a bit much, each one appears to offer a great forum for the industry – even if debates get a little heated from time to time. As one member of both the ANZPJG and YJG has told me, “That’s just a reflection of the great passion in our industry.”
 
And just like most family squabbles, everyone makes up, goes to their own room and forgets about the “fight”, though in New Zealand the Hatfield and McCoy feud continues, albeit it’s less public these days!
 
Result: Miss but then a Hit! 
 
Previous winners
 

SAY WHAT?

It was with much surprise in late September when Jeweller broke the news that high profile jewellery brand Tuskc had announced that it had ceased operations, effective immediately, and its product offering would no longer be available to retailers.
 
The shock news came just weeks after Tuskc had announced that International Brand Distributors (IBD) would acquire the business. However, having completed due diligence, IBD managing director Hannes Coetsee said he had decided not to proceed with the purchase, which resulted in the sudden and unexpected closure of Tuskc.
 
As if that was not enough cause for confusion, there was more to come. Less than a week later, industry magazine, Jewellery World declared Tuskc a winner in its “Hot 100 Suppliers”.
 
Tuskc achieved not one but two awards in the “Hot 100” for men’s jewellery and stainless jewellery. The author of the 16-page Jewellery World feature was not identified but the story stated, “We asked our readers to tell us who their best suppliers are – and the votes are now in”. 
 
It was not lost on many readers that, at the same time a company had closed its doors - presumably because of a lack of business - it was being endorsed by a trade magazine as a so-called “best supplier”; while other astute readers asked about the so-called “voting”. 
 
The voting criteria, method or procedures were not published by Jewellery World – let alone the number of votes cast – all of which lead to a number of high profile suppliers and retailers being left bewildered how a business could be endorsed as a “best and hot supplier” one week and close it doors the next week! Say what?
 
However, the confusion didn’t stop there. The magazine’s front cover boasted, “Hot 100 Suppliers – the votes are in” and the accompanying story explained, “Jewellery World readers picked their favourite suppliers … to give us a list of Australia’s “Hot 100” jewellery industry suppliers.”
 
Fine ... however, either Jewellery World readers can’t count or, more likely, the magazine’s staff are completely innumerate. 
 
Having promoted Australia’s "best" and "hot" 100 jewellery suppliers, only 70 companies were listed!  
 
Say what?
 
Result: "Missed by that much” - Maxwell Smart 
 
Previous winners
 

NEW PRODUCT

Each week we showcase the latest and greatest jewellery and watch products hitting the market and in 2013 well over 300 were featured from a wide range of suppliers, both large and small. 
 
This year’s most popular new product was X by Trollbeads, with Ti Sento taking second place.
 
And, as you would expect, the high profile international brands like Pandora, Thomas Sabo, Hot Diamonds and Nikki Lissoni featured well; however, it was some smaller brands that caught our reader’s attention. 
 
Local suppliers did well with Bolton Gems and Worth & Douglas taking positions three and four, while Amelleé rounded off the “local” list at No 9. 
 
 
Previous winners
2012 Pandora
 
* The list is compiled by gauging reader interest via online views and is not indicative of anything other than reader curiosity. The list takes into account the length of time each story has been published on jewellermagazine.com and attempts to be statistically relevant. 
 

WEIRD & CRAZY STUFF

If you think we have reported on some pretty weird and crazy stuff over the years, you’d probably be right; I mean it’s pretty hard to beat the company that thought a great way to promote a jewellery brand was to douse a beautiful woman in petrol and set her alight!
 
Or what about the legendary “Who is Ken Ramauti?” I still get the occasional email from someone telling me they saw Ken, and for some reason he always seems to be having a burger with his good friend Elvis! 
 
Needless to say the competition for this category has been pretty stiff, but this year the award must go to … well I am not sure who should come forward and collect this year’s Weird & Crazy Stuff award.
 
Should it be the thief, the Police officer or the store owner? 
 
Let me explain ... it was only a few weeks ago that we brought you the story about a Brisbane man who ran from a jewellery store with a one-carat diamond solitaire ring and a 1.53-carat yellow diamond ring and was chased by staff. 
 
The incident happened at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre in Brisbane and when the store manager Liljana McDonald chased and cornered the offender, with the help of others, the thief swallowed the rings.   
 
Police were called and the alleged thief, David Watts was taken into custody and charged. However, what to do about the missing jewellery valued at $59,000? 
 
Well the Police had to wait for Watts to, effectively, provide his own evidence against himself; meaning they had to wait until he “passed” the diamond rings. Imagine the face of poor Constable Plod when he was given that duty? I wonder what training you undertake at Police academy for such painstaking investigative work?
 
Anyway … the $27,000, 1.53-carat yellow diamond ring was “recovered” a few days later but the other, more expensive ring has disappeared. Well, that’s not quite correct, it just hasn’t been revealed. 
 
No Watts is not a magician. It’s believed that the authorities mistakenly discarded the second ring, valued at $35,000!
 
What a crappy error, huh? 
 
I can just imagine Senior Sergeant Ruffmeup screaming, “Constable Plod, how can we send you out to catch serious criminals if you’re so shitty at your job?”
 
Enough of the puns… so, who should we declare the winner of  “2013 Weird & Crazy Stuff”, the thief for swallowing the rings or the Police officer who had to “handle” the evidence?
 
Well, wait … it gets even more wacky!
 
Maybe it should go to the store owners who have decided to conduct an online auction for the ring! The auction ends on 23 December and all proceeds will be donated to the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland.
 
Result: Hit or is that a Miss?
 
Previous winners
 

A GOOD NUMBER

When compiling annual lists like this we sometimes have to deal with unpleasant matters and this is one such case. Last year we declared the new retail operation, Status Accessories, as the winner of “A Good Number” for opening five stores in a tough retail environment. 
 
Led by Jeff Burnes, the former head of marketing at Pandora, the aim was to open three Status stores in 2012 and have 12 nationally by the end of 2013. 
 
By December 2012 plans were ahead of schedule with Burnes’ having opened five stores and we declared that was a good number because, not only was it achieved in seven months, it was undertaken as a start-up in what many people said was the most difficult retail climate in 50 years. 
 
At the time I did add, “Of course, just because something exists doesn’t mean it’s profitable, and only time will tell whether the high-tech retail operation reaches its aims.”
 
So it is with regret that we declare Status Accessories as the winner for two consecutive years because the 2012 “number” went on to become $3 million. 
 
In mid October the bold and innovative “clicks and mortar” retail concept was placed in voluntary liquidation with debts exceeding $3.1 million, with unsecured creditors being owed $2.6 million. 
 
Result: Most sadly, a Miss. 
 
Previous winners
 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

As was the case last year, this category dealt with thieves and robbers declaring that hopefully they were all in jail. So in the same vein we report that that’s certainly true in one such case. 
 
In what can only be described as one of the most bizarre stories we have reported, the case of the lesbian love triangle that defrauded a jeweller of $1.4 million finally concluded in February.
 
Journalists are often accused of beating-up and sensationalising news and sometimes we are accused of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. But nothing could have been further from the truth when it came to this saga out of Queensland. 
 
It resembled a plot from a low-budget Hollywood movie, with accusations of blackmail and fraud along with a salacious lesbian love triangle, and it would have been amusing if it didn’t involve jewellery stores being closed and 60 people losing their jobs.
 
But it all came to an end in February when Kings Jewellers’ former CFO Anna Rajkowski was sentenced to seven years jail for her part in a $1.4 million fraud against the company, motivated by the lesbian love triangle turned sour.
 
She was the final member of the triumvirate to be convicted when her former lover, Luisa Touli, was sentenced to nine years jail for her role in the fraud in November 2012.
 
Result: Miss
 
Previous winners
 

Births, Deaths, Marriages & Divorces (new category in 2013)

Births
Story Jewellery
 
Deaths
• Tuskc
• Status
 
Marriages
• Storch & Co / Forevermark
• Designa Accessories / Hot Diamonds
• Stat Australia / Misaki
• West End Collection / Burg
 
Divorces
 

 












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.






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