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<em>Jeweller</em> looks at the <em>Hits & Misses</em> of the jewellery industry in 2011
Jeweller looks at the Hits & Misses of the jewellery industry in 2011

Jeweller's Hits & Misses 2011

After a difficult year, COLEBY NICHOLSON reviews the past 12 months with his list of the jewellery industry’s ‘Hits and Misses’. 

As 2011 draws to a close, and after an intense year for businesses in the Australian and New Zealand jewellery industries, we thought we should end the year by reviewing some of the highs and lows.

We too had an equally intense year reporting on the local and international jewellery industry. You may have gathered that we enjoy our work but we’re always careful not to take everything too seriously. Throughout 2011 we have attempted to report on serious matters affecting the industry but at the same time have a little fun along the way.

We hope you enjoy our last effort for 2011 before we close for the Christmas and New Year break.


Success is a subjective notion, often measured by winning something. And while success in business is often measured by sales volume or revenue, I think the most successful venture of 2011 was the formation of the Young Jewellers Group (YJG).

YJG launched on Facebook in late June and now has over 300 members, however that’s not the only measure of its success. The real accomplishment has been the daily interaction of its members who post questions, ask for advice and seek information while other members promptly offer answers.

Facebook is the ideal platform for such a group because it’s easily accessible, offers immediacy and motivates.

YJG has many members from outside Australia and New Zealand and, interestingly, many of the members are not ‘young’. Some of the most active members are ‘older’ and are often found offering their wisdom to the younger people in the industry.

Result – Hit

Biggest Surprise

This was easy. A no brainer in fact!

If someone had asked you in January whether you thought an Indian company would buy the retail chain Zamels Jewellers, I’m sure you would have answered “No”. But in November the deal was finalised and Zamels became the third, and last, major Australian jewellery chain (100+ stores) to become foreign owned.

Jeweller broke the story in September and stuck with it even though many people, some close to the deal, denied sale negotiations were taking place while others in the industry said it was wrong; there was no way Zamels would be sold to an Indian diamond company!

Eventually, not only were we proved correct, almost every detail we reported along the way, including financial matters, was accurate.

The entire industry will be watching Zamels in 2012 to gauge if the new ownership will offer some much needed spice to the chain store market.

Result – Hit or Miss, too early to call. 

New Product

Ice-Watch was the most popular new product on in 2011.

We presented nearly 400 new jewellery and watch products throughout the year and Ice Watch’s multi-coloured timepieces garnered the most views for the year.

Of course, being the ‘most read’ new product is not necessarily an indication of sales success, but from what we understand, in this case it was. Ice Watch has been a hit.

If you’re interested, the Top 20 new products of 2011 will appear in a special feature in Jeweller's February 2012 issue and you will be very surprised to see what other companies made the list.

It makes for interesting reading and will surprise many.

Result – Hit

Say what?

The most popular story for 2011 was ‘Top five trends for 2012’, envisaging the year ahead to be influenced by vintage design; cinema; celebrities; nature and fiction.

Published in June, it’s probably not surprising to discover a story about jewellery fashions and trends at #1 spot. However, what might astound many readers, especially our Kiwi cousins, was which story was in second place!

We posted over 300 news stories throughout 2011 and the second most highly read was about the continuing disunity and fragmentation of the New Zealand jewellery industry.

In fact, the on-gong drama (or is it a comedy?) that has become the New Zealand jewellery industry was so popular with our readers that two stories on the topic appear in the Top 10!

Our February 2012 issue will list the Top 20.

Result – Hits

What were they thinking?

When Jewellery World publisher John Abolins announced he was planning a new fair for late August 2012, the question on everyone’s lips was, “Why?”

Dubbed Jewellery World Show (JWS), the timing of Abolins’ announcement was intriguing for two reasons. First it was a full 12 months notification but more curious was the fact that the announcement came just two days before the opening of the 20 year-old JAA Sydney trade fair!

That begged two more “Whys?” – why make the announcement two days before the JAA fair opening and why schedule a second trade fair in Sydney one week before the JAA trade fair?

After trumpeting the new JWS on its website in early September, what followed was a co-ordinated self-promotion of the new trade fair in Jewellery World magazine, with in-depth analysis and detailed explanation about why the industry needed two Sydney fairs in 2012, just one week apart.

But even after pledging $250,000 to an industry consumer advertising campaign if JWS was a "sell-out", suppliers still asked, “Why do we need a second Sydney fair?”

Mind you, it wasn’t Abolins’ first attempt to start a rival trade fair, he made a similar announcement six years ago when he began promoting the launch of Jewellery World Show 2007. That fair never eventuated.

In a case of déjà vu all over again, it appears that Jewellery World Show 2012 has now been cancelled. That leaves us with one more why! Why is there no announcement of the Show’s cancellation on the company’s website and Facebook page?

The industry is now still left pondering, "What were they thinking?”

Result – Miss

Weird and crazy stuff

Lots of weird and crazy things come across our desks; I guess it’s simply the nature of our work. We rarely follow them up but some are just too wacky to let go!

We still don’t know whether it was a crazy or brilliant marketing strategy to launch a new jewellery range by dousing a beautiful woman in petrol and burning her at the stake, but that’s exactly what a Norwegian jewellery company did.

But the weirdest story for 2011 surely must go to, ‘Who is Ken Raumati?’

We think Ken is a New Zealander, and we think he worked in the Kiwi jewellery industry? But we don’t know if he’s alive!

Well, I mean, we don’t know if he exists!

Ken rocked onto the New Zealand jewellery scene in August declaring himself to be a journalist doing “an investigative article about jewellery apprenticeships and paid workplace training”. He claimed to know a lot of things about a lot of people, but no one seemed to know him!

Confused? Well, so were we.

Apparently he knew of me, or at least that’s what his emails indicated, but five months after investigating the bizarre story about the mysterious Ken Raumati, he disappeared, never to be heard of again.

Who knows, he might well be 'alive' ... visiting his brother, Elvis Raumati.

If you see Ken, say "Hi" for me.

Result – Miss


I dunno about you, but if I never see another absurd, frivolous survey or online poll about jewellery I’ll die a happy man. I am sick and tired of them.

Don’t get me wrong, a well-designed, scientifically based survey can offer a wealth of information and insight into human behaviour. But most ‘surveys’ about jewellery are nothing more than poppycock!

Take, for example, the survey that recently concluded that, “One in three Australians are happy to wear imitation designer jewellery”.

What on earth is imitation jewellery? Surely something is jewellery or it isn’t, right?

The media release went on to declare, “The survey showed Generation Y respondents were most likely to have purchased imitation designer jewellery at 36% of respondents, compared with 34% of Baby Boomer and 32% of Generation X respondents.”

Now, you might assume that what they meant by ‘imitation jewellery’ was ‘fashion jewellery’.

Let’s assume they meant ‘fashion jewellery’, and let’s also assume the 1,233 people who answered the survey knew that too, then can you believe the survey found the Gen Y preferred cheaper jewellery than Baby Boomers?

Extraordinary stuff right? But wait, there was more!

What about this doozy? More women bought ‘imitation’ jewellery than men!

Stop the presses! Amazing information, eh?

I could go on but you’d swear I was making it up.

Needless to say, Jeweller didn’t bother publishing such nonsense, we would have thought that our readers would not need an “independent survey undertaken in conjunction with professional market researchers” to know that more women bought jewellery than men.

Think about it ... someone actually paid for this survey to be conducted!

Other magazines not only chose to publish the media release but also made a song and dance of the results! 

As my daughter would say, “OMG!!!”

Result – Miss

Best Punch Up

This one was another easy one! How can anyone go past the on-going fracas in New Zealand?

If Australia’s jewellery industry is small by world standards then the Kiwi industry is minute. And, if you have a very small industry, what’s the best way to nurture it, foster it and increase sales?

Well, in New Zealand, you set-up as many disparate industry associations as is humanly possible then you just have a year-long punch up. It never seems to end, even after numerous attempts to unify the Kiwi industry.

Methinks it might just have something to do with money!

I dunno, I might be wrong, but who gets paid what and when could see this comedy/drama last longer than the famous 13-year Hatfield and McCoy feud in America.

The Hatfield and McCoy fight in the 1800s was over honor, justice and vengeance but let’s hope that in 12 months time the Biggest Surprise award goes to the Kiwis for finally resolving their differences.

But don’t hold you breath ... one prominent industry identity once told me, "We can't even remember why we don't like each other!"

Result – Miss

Where are they now?

In February Diamond Exchange began operating again, this time under new ownership. Regular readers will remember Jeweller’s reporting in late 2010 about the demise of the well-know online diamond business.

Diamond Exchange went into liquidation with debts exceeding $2.5 million with many consumers out of pocket. Some people found themselves with no ring just a few days before their engagement parties!

Supreme Court documents at the time listed the company’s directors as Wayne Soloman, James Francis and John Buckby.

One wonders, where are they now?

Result – Miss

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

Duraflex Group Australia

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