JUICY JEWELRY NEWS! RECAPS SOME OF THE BIGGEST NEWS FROM TOP INSIDER INDUSTRY SOURCES. HERE ARE A FEW OF THE LATEST STORIES AND EVENTS TAKING PLACE IN THE JEWELRY WORLD:
NORSTROM INTRODUCES SHOPPING VIA TEXT! (Reported in National Jeweler / Article by Michelle Graff)
Nordstrom customers can now buy merchandise, including fine jewelry (Lana Jewelry shown), by text message through a new service called TextStyle. This just launched service allows customers who are using Next (a cloud-based secure and private texting product Nordstrom developed and launched last year) to buy from their salesperson or personal stylist via text.
Nordstrom, a publicly traded Seattle-based Washington State department store chain with 304 stores in 38 states plus Canada, is the first and only retail company in the United States to offer consumers the ability to shop and buy with a simple opt-in text-messaging service.
How it works:
(1) To obtain Next, a customer must go into a Nordstrom store and ask a salesperson to provide a personal Next text number. The customer then receives a text message and replies “YES” to opt-in to the service, which enables the customer and salesperson to communicate by secure and private texts.
(2) Customer uses the Next account to opt-in to TextStyle. This allows the salesperson to send a photo and description of a product that the customer might like based on customer’s known tastes and past purchase history. The service also allows the customer to contact the salesperson with specific requests – for example, a piece of jewelry to go with a party dress.
(3) To purchase the product, the customer simply texts back “BUY” with a unique code, and the purchase is completed using the customer’s Norstrom.com account.
(4) The product is shipped to customer via FREE standard delivery.
Nordstrom embraced technology and mobile commerce last fall with it’s “Like2Buy” Instagram account where Instagram users can click a link on a product they like from Nordstrom’s profile page to visit the Nordstrom website and purchase the exact item.
ALL CRIMINAL CHARGES DROPPED BY ANGOLAN GOVERNMENT AGAINST “BLOOD DIAMONDS” JOURNALIST (Reported in National Jeweler / Article by Michelle Graff)
Sparing the investigative journalist years in prison and fines totaling more than $1 million, a Luanda Tribunal dropped all 24 criminal charges against Rafael Marques de Morais, who was put on trial for criminal defamation and other claimed offenses by the generals and companies named in his 2011 book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, which details hundreds of cases of torture and killings allegedly carried out by guards of private security firm Teleservice and soldiers in the Angolan Armed Forces in the Lunda Norte Province of northeastern Angola.
In exchange for dismissal of all charges, de Morais agreed not to republish the book and also publicly acknowledged that the generals might not have known the violations were occurring. As part of the formal settlement, the generals have agreed to ensure that human rights conditions in the region are improved and will allow de Morais continued access to monitor conditions in Lunda Norte.
Sarah Hager of Amnesty International announced the decision as a “huge victory for human rights and freedom of expression in Angola.” Brian Leber of Leber Jeweler Inc. in Chicago, the company that signed a statement with Tiffany & Co. urging the Angolan government to drop all charges against de Morais, stated that the jewelry industry has a long way to go before the phrase “conflict free” truly lives up to it claims.
DEMAND FOR GOLD JEWELRY SLIGHTLY UP IN US, WHILE OVERALL WEAK CONSUMER DEMAND FOR JEWELRY AND WATCHES CONTINUES FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE MONTH (Reported in National Jeweler / Articles by Michelle Graff and Hannah Connorton)
Jewelers struggled for years to sell gold during the economic downturn in the US, but the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends report that the demand for high karat gold jewelry in the United States has continued to go up every quarter since the first quarter of 2014. While US consumers are cautious in their spending, the general mood is one of guarded optimism as economic growth and household wealth rises.
However, with respect to fine jewelry and watches in the United States, this past March marked the sixth consecutive month in a row of weak consumer demand, and revised government data for specialty jewelers shows that their market share has slipped to 39% (down from nearly 75% just 4 decades ago). This means that shoppers are purchasing more inexpensive fashion jewelry and less expensive gemstone jewelry. Despite vigorous promotions, there are fewer shoppers and lower average ticket sales for specialty retailers, which proves they are far from recovering to pre-recession sales levels.
The revised data also showed that overall jewelry sales in the US were down for both the 2013 and 2014 holiday seasons (not just in 2014 as previously reported). The expectation for 2015 is that jewelry sales will be flat with even a further small decline for specialty retailers from 2014 lows. This news suggests that diamond merchants will have little or no pricing power and that other jewelry suppliers will hold prices at 2014 levels.