Former California Jewelers Association Director Westover Dies

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Former California Jewelers Association executive director Robert B. Westover died in his sleep on Sept. 8, the group announced. He was 88.

Westover was hired as executive director of the California Retail Jewelers Association in 1965 and was elected executive vice president in 1973, when CRJA changed its name to CJA. Westover retired in 1989 after 24 years with CJA. In May 1997, Pat O’Rourke, then-CJA executive director, suffered a stroke, and Westover returned to the CJA as interim Executive Director in her absence. 

The CJA established the prestigious Robert B. Westover GIA Scholarship in 1998, which is awarded annually. That same year, CJA created the Robert B. Westover Distinguished Service Award for an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the jewelry industry.     

Westover is survived by his wife, Helen Westover; his niece, Nancy K. Austin; and his nephew, Chris Westover. Burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery will be private. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the California Jewelers Association’s Robert B. Westover Scholarship Fund.


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Cartier, Van Cleef Win $37 Million Counterfeit Judgment

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On Sept. 2, Richemont subsidiaries Cartier and Van Cleef Arpels won a $37.4 million default judgment against New York manufacturer Concept Designs Unlimited for allegedly producing counterfeit watches bearing the names of those brands.

According to the judgment, issued by the United States District Court, Central District of New Jersey, Concept Designs never answered an amended complaint filed in May 2011 by Richemont, which charged the company with trademark infringement, counterfeiting, unfair competition, and false advertising.

In an answer to the original complaints, filed in March 2010, Zura Kazhiloti, described by Richemont as CDU’s “sole owner,” denied the charges and invoked his rights against self-incrimination. 

The judgment calls for CDU to pay Cartier and Van Cleef $37 million in statutory damages, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. The company was also ordered to recall any products that bear the contested marks. 

Kazhiloti’s attorney declined comment, except to note the judgment was not against Kazhiloti. 

The original complaint also targeted Daniel Markus Jewelers, based in Newark, N.J. Richemont charges the jeweler with selling counterfeits over its website and on eBay. 

While not admitting the company sold any counterfeits, Daniel Markus alleges in a cross-claim that Concept Designs made “false, intentional, and material misrepresentations” about the authenticity of its products.

On Sept. 9, Richemont subsidiary Panerai also won a consent judgment against 47th Street retailer Jem Watch, which it alleged sold used and damaged Panerai watches as new.

The judgment, issued by the U.S. District Court, Central District of New York, calls for Jem Watch to pay Richemont $15,000, and says that, if the company continues to sell Richemont products, it must include signage that it is not an authorized dealer of those watches.

Jem’s lawyer did not return a request for comment.

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Jewelry Crime Blotter Week of Sept. 16

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CommentsJewelry Crime Blotter Week of Sept. 16

A man is arrested after trying to claim his own reward money, and other crime stories with related tips:

- The Jewelers’ Security Alliance noted on its website that there has been an increase in so-called “gypsy” distraction thefts, such as the one that occurred in Natick, Mass., that was included in the Sept. 9 Crime Blotter. According to the JSA, one group may have robbed jewelers in Maryland, Missouri, Texas, and New York.

The organization asks anyone with information about these thefts to contact FBI Special Agent Dan McCaffrey,

- A man was arrested after he allegedly robbed a Sharon, Pa., jewelry store and then tried to claim a reward for helping solve the case, a TV station reported.

Emile Pratt is suspected of robbing The Gold Mine on the morning of Aug. 31, smashing its display case, and grabbing up to $15,000 in jewelry. 

The store owner said the man allegedly “wanted to be the good Samaritan to throw police off track and then try to double dip to try and get a possible reward too.”

The police reportedly charged Pratt and his wife after they say the couple tried to sell the stolen jewelry at local pawn shops. 

The JSA notes that if robbers see jewelry in display cases, they will be tempted to take it. It recommends retailers never leave jewelry out and visible overnight. In addition, do not cover your cases; this gives the impression something valuable is inside. 

JCK covered how jewelers can prevent burglaries in May 2005. 

- A man is suspected of trying to buy a $23,000 Rolex from Betteridge Jewelers in Greenwich, Conn., on Sept. 10 using fraudulent credit cards, according to a local news source.

The man, identified in the report as Emeli Kwasi Attipoe, allegedly used a card that would not process. A further investigation revealed inadequacies in the security holograms on the cards, and numbers on the front of the cards verified they were fake. 

Attipoe was reportedly charged with three counts, including unlawful reproduction of a credit card.

In the Manual of Jewelry Security, the Jewelers Security Alliance recommends cards be checked for all the factors contained in advisories from your credit card company. In addition, examine each card to find obvious forgeries. Things to look for include warping, bubbling, alterations, and other imperfections.

- A man was arrested in the robbery of Willie’s Jewelry Repair in Fayetteville, N.C., a newspaper reported.

Brandon Kyler, 19, has been charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and other counts, the report said. 

On Sept. 6, robbers burst into the store, and made store employees lie on the floor, while they emptied ring trays. The men were eventually captured on surveillance video outside the store.

Anyone with information should call Fayetteville police at 433-1856 or Fayetteville-Cumberland County CrimeStoppers at 483-TIPS (8477).

The JSA Manual says having good video security is an important part of every jeweler’s security plan. Systems should run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Owners should conduct routine cleaning and maintenance recommended for the system.

It also notes that some jewelers have a video recorder concealed in a locked cabinet, hidden from criminals, in addition to a more camera conspicuously placed.

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De Beers Sights Moving to Botswana

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CommentsDe Beers Sights Moving to Botswana

For decades, Diamond Trading Company sightholders have journeyed to De Beers’ stately headquarters on Charterhouse Street in London to get their goods.

No longer. In a historic announcement, De Beers said Sept. 16 that it would relocate its famed “sights” to Botswana, the largest producing country in the De Beers stable, by the end of 2013.

In addition, all other DTC functions, including sorting, valuation, and the company’s key account managers, will also be transplanted to Gaborone, the country’s capital.  

Some functions will remain in London, mainly the Forevermark team and corporate services, including the accounting and legal departments.

DTC managing director Varda Shine tells JCK says the move will impact some 120 to 150 employees, and the DTC is currently talking with its people about the transition. 

“Obviously there is a bit of surprise,” she says. “This is a huge shift. You can’t just take people and cut and paste them.”

She notes that the move will also involve some changes on Botswana’s part, as Gaborone currently may not have enough hotel space to accomodate all the sightholders who will now be visiting 10 times a year.

She adds that the DTC is in the process of securing space for its new headquarters. While there currently is an office for DTC Botswana, which is a joint venture between the DTC and Botswana government, this move will involve the overall DTC.

The shift is part of De Beers’ new 10-year sales contract with Botswana. The back-dated deal, which covers sorting, valuation, and sales, has as its start date Jan. 1 of this year. It is the longest contract ever between the two partners. 

The agreement is a “great milestone as far as we are concerned and as far as the industry is concerned,” Shine says. “We have secured 10 years of supply with the biggest producer in the world. It’s good news for sightholders as they will have peace of mind about the continuity of supply. It’s good news for the Bostwana government as they have great aspirations to become a leading hub.”

The agreement also calls for Botswana to market a sizable portion of its production outside the DTC. In 2011, Botswana will sell 10 percent of its production independently. That will rise to 15 percent over a five-year period.

Shine says she doesn’t know how this production will be marketed, but notes other producers have similar arrangements. 

De Beers’ contract with Botswana has been the subject of considerable speculation in recent months. It originally expired at the end of 2010. Then the negotiation period was extended to March 2011. Soon that deadline passed, even as De Beers frequently declared a new contract was “imminent.” 

Now, six months after the extended deadline, a new contract has finally appeared.

Shine says it shouldn’t be surprising that the negotiations “took time, especially when people understand what we’ve agreed to.”

In a statement, Botswana’s minerals, energy, and water resources minister Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe called the agreement “only a first step.” 

“Much work needs to be done during the next several years to make this transformation a success,” he said.



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Jewelry Designers Support Home for the Cure

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Developed in honor of Elizabeth Miller, the former senior vice president of textile design firm Mohawk Karastan, who lost her life to breast cancer in May 2010, the Elizabeth Miller Home for the Cure Web site is a place where advocates can learn about Miller and support her wishes: help find a cure by funding research.

Thanks to jewelry industry influencers including Todd Reed, Katey Brunini, Heather Moore, Honora, and Marcy Miller Jewelry, the Web site is also a place to Give Good, Get Good—a homespun concept from some of Miller’s industry friends that encourages people to donate. “Whether someone donates $5 or $5,000 through Home for the Cure, you get entered to win one of our fabulous prizes,” says Michelle Orman, president of Last Word Communications, which is helping to get the word out.

Anyone who donates through the Home for the Cure website is automatically entered into a raffle to win one of several prizes, including beautiful designer fine jewelry and luxury bedding. “Crossing industry lines to support the dream of such a fabulous woman brings such joy to our hearts,” says Elizabeth Bonanno of Elizabeth Anne Bonanno Consulting.

When Miller was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, she began lecturing, raising awareness, and funds as well as supporting Susan G. Komen. Ever hopeful and committed to finding a cure, her teammates walked without her for the first time last year during the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York City, raising more than $40,000 in donations.

“This woman wore heels up until days before she passed away, she just did NOT give up!!” adds Orman. “She is the one who formed Home for the Cure, and now we want to carry on her mission by bringing together these two industries—home and jewelry—together.”

Check out the Elizabeth Miller Home for the Cure Web site to donate or see the Gallery of Prizes.

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AGTA Holds Board Elections

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The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) on Sept. 14 announced the results of its 2012 Board of Directors elections. Newly-elected board members will begin their three-year terms at the AGTA Board of Directors Meeting at AGTA GemFair Tucson. 

The following were elected as directors:  John Bachman (John M. Bachman); Jeffrey Bilgore (Jeffrey Bilgore); Ruben Bindra (B B Fine Gem); Bruce Bridges (Bridges Tsavorite); Sampat Poddar (Byrex Gems); Kambiz Sabouri (Gem 2000); and Bear Williams (Bear Essentials). 

The following directors’ terms will continue through 2012: Robert Bentley (Robert Bentley Company); Peter Bazar (Imperial-Delta); Sushil Goyal (Liberty Gems); Betty Sue King (King’s Ransom); Bill Larson (Pala International); Glenn Lehrer (Lehrer Designs); Gerry Manning (Manning International); Niveet Nagpal (Omi Gems); Joe Orlando; Lois Wacholtz (Christopher’s Fine Jewelry Design); and Cynthia Renee Zava.       

The new Board members will be introduced at the AGTA Membership Meeting, which is open to all AGTA Members on Friday, Feb. 3, at the Tucson Convention Center.

The AGTA board of directors holds elections on a rotating cycle in order to guarantee coherence of the board’s long-term plans. 

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Swarovski Appoints New Operations VP

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Swarovski North America has appointed Wayne Page as its vice president, operations, the company announced in a Sept. 14 statement.

Page joined Swarovski Canada in November of 2003 as consumer goods business manager for Canada. He was also responsible for distribution development for North America for the past three years.       

Prior to joining Swarovski, Page held senior positions with The Jones Apparel Group in Canada managing the Ralph Lauren license brand.

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GJEPC to Launch Mines to Market Conference in November

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The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India will hold the first ever International Colored Gemstone Mines to Market Conference Nov. 2–3 in Jaipur, India.

The two-day conference will feature experts from various countries discussing the global trade of colored gemstones.

“With the Mines to Market initiative, the industry stands to address all the global concerns, forge a solid road ahead, determine all the necessary steps that need to be taken to establish and maintain the global brand positioning of India,” said Rajiv Jain, chairman of GJEPC, in a statement.

GJEPC also plans to host three nights of culture and cuisine, backed with classical music, folk,and fusion bands, as well as a sound and light show.

For more information, email

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Ohio Jeweler Shuts After 45 Years

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CommentsOhio Jeweler Shuts After 45 Years

Achkar Jewelers, a Youngstown, Ohio, institution for more than 45 years, is shutting down at the end of September—but owner Jeres Achkar says the economy is not to blame.

“Business-wise, it’s been excellent,” he says. “This is our best year in the last four years.”

Achkar turns 80 years old in January, and has no children in the business, so he’s decided to move on.

“Sometimes it’s time to go,” he says.

But Achkar acknowledges the closing is bittersweet.

“It’s very emotional,” he says. “I have lots of good memories.” 

Achkar’s father opened a jewelry shop in Cuba in 1925. The family emigrated to the United States in 1965, and set up the first store in Youngstown. 

“I started with a mostly small shop, doing mostly trade work,” Achkar says. “And then we expanded.” 

He has been taken aback by the reaction to the closing announcement.

“It’s really been incredible,” he says. “I have men, women come in, they just cry. We develop a very close relationship with our customers and they become friends.”

When asked if he has any advice for his peers in the business, Achkar says, “Always bend over backwards to please the customer. You should always have a repair shop, that will increase your business.” 

All in all, Achkar has no regrets about becoming a jeweler. 

“I have enjoyed every bit of it,” he says. “So many beautiful experiences are in my memory and as the days go by more and more of them come back.”

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Italian Wholesaler Francesco Roberto Dies at 81

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Francesco Roberto, one of the pillars of the international gem and jewelry industry, died on Sept. 12 after a long illness, according to an announcement by CIBJO, the World Jewelry Federation. He was 81.

“Francesco was a very close and dear friend to me personally, as well as to many of my peers in the Italian and international gem and jewelery business,” said CIBJO president Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri in a statement. “During his many years in the trade he served the public selflessly, contributing endlessly of his time and expertise.” 

Roberto’s gem and jewelry industry career spans six decades. At 20, he worked for an Italian company dealing in imitation and synthetic stones and cultured pearls. In 1975, he became the president of Capellaro Company S.P.A. In the early 1990s, the company merged with the international Schachter-Namdar group, now Leo Schachter, one of the biggest diamond corporations in the world. While he did reduce his work schedule in recent years, he never retired. 

Roberto also participated in the development of the “UNI rule,” the Italian nomenclature for gemstones, and served many years on the board of directors of the Confedorafi, the umbrella organization for the Italian jewelry industry.

Roberto was active in or held leadership positions with many trade associations during his lengthy career, including CIBJO, the World Cultured Pearl Organization (WPO), and the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA).

In 1993, Roberto became president of Federpietre, the Italian association of gemstone dealers. He was also a member of the international Carat Club and of the Technical Committee of the Milano Chamber of Commerce. For several years he held a seat on the board of directors of the Associazione Orafa Valenzana (AOV), the jewelry association of Valenza, where he was head of the Disciplinary Committee.

“People like Francesco Roberto are hard to find, and it was a privilege to have known him and to be his friend,” Cavalieri added.

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