Rapaport Magazine

By Phyllis Schiller
IS YOUR STORE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE?
 
Gemfields for Zaiken

The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “What are you doing to make your store socially responsible? Do you think your customers are concerned about this?”

STEPHEN ROSE, OWNER
ROSE JEWELERS
LA CROSSE, WISCONSIN
   “We have been in business for 158 years and we pride ourselves on being socially and ethically responsible to our community. We’re having a sale right now and part of it is tied to people bringing food in for our local food shelter. We participate with Southern African Diamonds, stocking their Naledi Collection, where a percentage of the sales of the jewelry goes back to South Africa to help different groups, such as orphanages there. We also carry jewelry from Sarah’s Hope, which provides microloans to women in underdeveloped countries.
   “Everybody has to be interlinked today. More and more, there are customers who are very interested in this process and checking whether we buy socially responsibly from vendors and where the colored gemstones came from and the fair trade aspect. So it is very important. I personally think it is.”

ANGELA STUART,
OFFICE MANAGER/ASSISTANT TO OWNER
HIGHLANDS JEWELERS
SEBRING, FLORIDA
   “We support several companies that give back. Sarah’s Hope is one of them that gives back to women who don’t have the means. They give them microloans so they can start a business and it gets them out of poverty. We also sell Angelica bracelets — whenever you buy one, 25 cents goes toward Generation Rescue, which supports children with autism.
   “And in terms of the diamonds we stock, we’re part of Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO), which has strict standards in terms of its vendors. IJO is our security — we purchase through IJO. I think customers care about this. They don’t always ask about it but when you tell them, I think it helps with the sale.”

JOHN WALDRON, OWNER
WALDRON AND RHODES JEWELERS
RUTLAND, VERMONT
   “We donate to many charities and fund drives that support local things — if somebody gets hurt or has a fire or if someone’s child has a disease that insurance doesn’t cover — that have a very definite impact on our direct community.
   “Our diamonds are socially responsible to the point where I’ve even been over to Africa and seen the diamond mines and witnessed the Kimberley Process firsthand to see that the diamonds from the people we’re doing business with go from the mine to the marketplace. We’re very careful in selecting vendors as it relates to gold and silver. Even the companies we buy costume pieces from are socially responsible, such as Alex and Ani, Pandora and companies like that.
   “Vermont is a very socially responsible state and the people are very aware of everything like that around them. Even if it costs them a little bit extra, they’re willing to pay the extra money to know that they haven’t done anything to bring any harm to the environment or the people they share the earth with.”

CAROLYN POPE, OWNER
CREWS FINE JEWELRY
GRANDVIEW, MISSOURI
   “We follow the guidelines set forth by Jewelers of America (JA) and information from Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC). And we talk with our customers any time there’s a question. We explain that our vendors have to sign off on their end.
   “To be honest, I think our industry does a great job of policing itself and I believe instead of putting so much time into talking about the industry, we should be romancing what jewelry is all about. If you spend so much time qualifying yourself, sometimes the customer loses interest in why they’re there. You have to find that happy medium, that blend where they know that you’re compliant, and we do that with signage within the store and that type of thing.”

BARBARA HIGHT-RANDALL
HIGHT & RANDALL, PERSONAL JEWELER
ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA
   “We have a very active estate department, so that means we not only resell previously owned jewelry from the late 1800s to contemporary pieces, which in its way is recycling, but we also refine and therefore repurpose the gold. I think a lot of jewelers are doing that.
   “One of the other things we believe in is that our diamonds and our colored gemstones are 100 percent organic. It’s touching a group of customers who buy food through a food co-op or things of that nature and are looking for a like-minded approach to the environment. So treatment and different disclosures that are necessary are given to the customer. And all of our suppliers have on their statements and receipts that they are conflict free. We’re also using a 100 percent toxic-free cleaner. We even use toxic-free sanitizer in our bathrooms. There are so many levels that you can approach this on.
   “We do a lot of philanthropy with our community, such as Gift of Life Transplant House, Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, American Cancer Society. We believe very strongly in not only taking care of our planet but each other; it’s a very strong part of our mission statement. We don’t just donate something and not show up for the event; we’re there at the benefit.”

DIANE CHRISTENSEN, CO-OWNER
CHRISTENSEN & RAFFERTY FINE JEWELRY
SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA
   “We are extremely active with the nonprofit community in our area and we support several organizations quite heavily. We try to carry ethically sourced product, we are concerned with that. Being in California, a lot of our clients are concerned about that as well. Some of our manufacturers are recycling gold. And, of course, we try to make sure the vendors for our diamonds as far as we know are conflict free. We’ve been dealing with our people for a long enough time that I feel comfortable that when they tell me something, it’s true.”

JAMES CORRY, CO-OWNER
DVVS FINE JEWELRY
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
   “We certainly sell conflict-free diamonds; it’s important to many of our customers. But I also do sell diamonds that I don’t know where they come from. We wish that the Kimberley Process worked but we all know that it doesn’t. I’m always put off by jewelry stores that hype it and all these designers who say that their jewelry is made from recycled metals. We all go to the same casters and of course that metal is cleaned and recycled. Ninety percent of what those casters get is used metal. My hackles go up a little when I hear all this eco-friendly stuff. And sadly, I think it’s a lot of hype and not a lot of reality.
   “We’re a very small store on a side street in Manhattan. We do things for neighbor-oriented causes…we just gave away a beautiful $700 necklace to a Catholic church affiliation and we’ve done lots of gay and lesbian donations, jewelry for silent auctions, and for the grade schools and high schools around the neighborhood.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2014. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share
© Copyright 1978-2014 by Martin Rapaport. All rights reserved. Index®, RapNet®, Rapaport®, PriceGrid™, Diamonds.Net™, and JNS®; are TradeMarks of Martin Rapaport.
While the information presented is from sources we believe reliable, we do not guarantee the accuracy or validity of any information presented by Rapaport or the views expressed by users of our internet service.