Posts Tagged: ‘gold’

Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iWatch and Some Crazy Gold Numbers

March 5, 2015 Posted by admin

apple and goldJohn Rubino: As Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) starts selling its new smart watch there are some, well, crazy-sounding predictions circulating about the amounts of gold the company might soon be buying.

The math goes like this: Each gold version of the watch will contain around two ounces, and the company might sell 10 million of them a year, mainly to rich, tech-savvy Asians.

That would be 20 million ounces a year, at 29,000 ounces per ton, which comes to around 700 tons.

Since the world’s gold mines produce maybe 2,500 tons per year, Apple would, with the introduction of this one product, buy more than fourth of global production and would jump to number three on the gold consumption list, behind only India and China.

Pretty amazing, and on the surface extraordinarily good for gold prices.

But Apple of course is just the middle man.

It’s buying gold, turning it into jewelry and selling it. So the buyer of the watch is really the gold consumer.

And here you get into some overlap.

Since Chinese and Indians already buy a lot of gold in the form of jewelry and bullion, will iWatch buying crowd out this other demand, or will it be coming from different groups within these societies?

In India, for instance, will an iWatch be an acceptable wedding gift instead of traditional gold jewelry?

And, assuming that some buyers are people of means who might otherwise have considered different gold watches, how much of the new demand is just substitution within an already existing market?

It will take a couple of years to find the answers, but in the meantime it’s safe to hazard a general guess:

Some purchases of iWatches will replace other gold buying, but not all.

The market for this kind of technology skews way younger than for traditional jewelry or luxury watches.

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Golden opportunity – The Register

March 4, 2015 Posted by admin

Owning rare, expensive coins is nothing new for David Nelkin, who regularly buys and sells them for a living.

But Nelkin, the owner of Eugene Coin and Jewelry, is particularly proud these days about his purchase last year of a high-priced, rare coin from ­Oregon’s era before statehood.

Now, he’s about to show the 165-year-old “Beaver Coin” for the first time since he bought it.

“I’m just really ecstatic to own it,” Nelkin said. “It’s like owning a fabled piece of art. I look at it that way. And because I’m from Oregon, it has that extra pull.”

Nelkin bought the $5 gold coin in August from a private collector, who had paid $257,000 for it at an auction three months earlier.

The coin was made in 1849, a ­decade before the Oregon Territory ­became a state.

It’s unknown how many of the ­Oregon gold coins remain in existence. But fewer than 50 out of the 6,000 $5 coins made in Oregon City in the 19th century have been certified as authentic, Nelkin said.

Nelkin declined to say how much he paid the collector, except that it was more than $257,000.

“It’s not about the money for me,” Nelkin said.

“It’s about the coin. The art of the coin. The preservation of the coin, and its connection to the history of Oregon.”

Nelkin, who keeps the coin in a bank safe deposit box, hasn’t displayed the collectible since he bought it.

However, this week Nelkin will display it at the American Nusimatic “National Money Show” in Portland. The three-day event starts on Thursday.

Made from about a ­quarter-ounce of pure gold from the California gold rush, the coin was among the “Beaver Coins” or “Beaver Money” produced by the private ­Oregon Exchange Co. mint.

On one side, the coin has an image of a beaver standing on a log. The engraving on the other includes the words “Oregon Exchange Company” and “Native Gold.”

In 1849, little federal money circulated in Oregon, and the territory needed a more efficient way to conduct commerce than bartering with beaver skins, wheat and other commodities, or using gold dust, according to the 1932 article “Pioneer Gold Money,” written by Leslie Scott and published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly.

A group of businessmen formed the nonprofit association, the Oregon Exchange Co., and started a private mint, Scott wrote. The mint produced the $5 gold pieces and 2,850 $10 gold coins for six months until September 1849, when territorial Gov. Joseph Lane — after whom Lane County is named — ­declared the operation illegal.

Because of their purity, many of the “Beaver Coins” were sold and melted for their gold after the federal mint in San Francisco began producing currency in 1854, Nelkin said.

Information about the early owners of the “Beaver Coin” bought by Nelkin bought doesn’t exist, he said. But a written record emerged in 1963, when the coin started to be bought and sold by coin collectors.

Nelkin, the eighth owner since 1963, first considered buying it in April through an online auction. He even asked the auction house to mail the coin to him so he could examine it. But Nelkin stayed on the sidelines because of steep bids.

Still, Nelkin had second thoughts after the collector bought the coin.

In August, Nelkin met the collector at a coin convention in Chicago. Nelkin once again examined the coin and decided that he had to buy it, even at a higher price. “I decided that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” he said. “I guess you could say it’s the Holy Grail.”

Nelkin, 63, said he has no immediate plans to sell the coin. “When I get to be of a certain age and I want to pass it along to my children, all of those factors may come into play,” he said. “But I have no foreseeable plan for it, but to share it and show it and be its new caretaker.”

Follow Ed on Twitter @edwardrusso . Email .

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Nadeau’s Auction Gallery Holds Jewelry-Heavy New Year’s Day Sale

March 3, 2015 Posted by admin

Mary Ann Brown | February 16th, 2015

Nadeau had this strawberry brooch with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds from the Reventlow estate appraised by a jeweler to get a comprehensive description and estimate of value. The brooch consists of three 18k gold and platinum leaves set with a total of 146 round diamonds. The diamonds are a mixture of full- and single-cut with an approximate total carat weight of two carats by formula. The three red strawberries are 14k yellow gold and consist of 188 round rubies. The green strawberry (at the top) is 18k yellow gold and set with 41 round emeralds. The stems of each berry are platinum with 31 diamonds total. The emeralds and rubies measure approximately 2.5 to 2.8 mm. The brooch sold well above the high estimate. Nadeau said, “When we have an estimate of $2500 to $4500 and get $10,200, we’re happy.” Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

From the same consignor who brought in the Cartier gold medallion, this Audemars, Piguet Co. platinum pocket watch with 19 jewels has a dial marked “Audemars, Piguet Co./ Brassus Geneve.” It brought $1320 (est. $300/600). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

Antique Jewelry Gemology

Fine jewelry accounted for a big chunk of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery’s annual New Year’s Day sale in Windsor, Connecticut. Ninety-three of the 600-plus items auctioned were in that category. After the auction, owner Ed Nadeau said the auction house generally features jewelry in that auction. “We try to make it our best sale, with jewelry and quality items. Last January first [2014] we had an auction with a sapphire pin that was appraised by two jewelers—one down south, and one local, here, in the $10,000 to $12,000 range, and we got $105,000 for it.”

Nadeau remembered the story behind that sale. “That was wonderful. It was for a family that we did a lot of business with, and she needed the money to send her kid to college. She wanted to get $10,000 or $15,000, so of course when she got $105,000 minus commission, she was pretty excited.”

This year, jewelry from two collections brought some of the best prices of the day. Nadeau said it was “a nice grouping for us to have.” Twenty items from the estate of Margaret Reventlow and 33 lots of property from a private collection sold for the benefit of the Virginia Historical Society “combined to make the lion’s share” of the jewelry on offer that day.

When asked what era the jewelry was from, Nadeau said, “I think most of the items that came from the Virginia lot were from the late 20th century. I’d say ninety percent of the lots would be that age. They were buying in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.” The Reventlow lots were mostly from an earlier period, more likely the 1950s through the 1970s. Nadeau said, “They had some really wonderful things.”

According to her obituary in the New York Times, Margaret (Peggy) Astor Drayton Reventlow was born in London in 1915. “She was 98 years old and lucid and laughing until the day she died.” Her father was William Astor Drayton, a great-grandson of John Jacob Astor. Reventlow was an “internationally recognized sculptress and painter,” who was also the founder and president of the Connecticut Volunteer Services for the Blind and Handicapped until 2011. She worked tirelessly at her chosen mission “to provide blind and handicapped persons with the same range and quality of reading materials available to the sighted public.”

Many sale highlights were itemized in the presale press information including several Van Cleef Arpels pieces—a duet pin, a gold compact with diamonds, pearl and diamond earrings, and a pearl triple-strand bracelet; and Cartier items—a necklace, bracelets, and a gold and coral-bead perfume bottle. See photos with captions accompanying this column for more information about these.

The top lot of the sale was an 18k yellow gold Van Cleef Arpels convertible duet pin set with diamonds and pearls from the Reventlow estate that sold for $36,000 (est. $14,000/18,000).

There will be a smaller group of jewelry in Nadeau’s Auction Gallery’s next auction, slated for late March or early April. The focus category of that sale is American antiques. Check the web site ( for the on-line catalog and exact auction date, which was not yet set at press time.

Many of the finest jewelry lots from the Nadeau New Year’s Day sale came from the estate of the artist and philanthropist Margaret Reventlow of Litchfield, Connecticut. Reventlow’s father, William Astor Drayton, was a great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, according to her July 3, 2014, obituary in the New York Times. The top lot was this 18k yellow gold Van Cleef Arpels convertible duet pin set with diamonds and pearls. In the primary part, the 13 pearls average approximately 5 to 5.5 mm each. The first of the two large center diamonds was a modern cut weighing approximately 3.06 carats by formula, and the second was European cut, weighing 3.34 carats by formula. The third diamond is missing. There are two European-cut diamonds set on top of the center diamonds, with an approximate carat weight of 1.20 by formula. An additional 47 diamonds, a mixture of European, full-, and single-cut, have an approximate total carat weight of 2.75. The additional conversion gold frame has more pearls (at top and suspending). Nadeau said, “That was our best piece of jewelry. I wouldn’t think it would be really old…mid-century or a little later. Not late 20th century, though.” The two-part pin sold for $36,000 (est. $14,000/18,000). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

This six-piece lot of four large 18k gold charms, three with mounted stones, one with coral faces, and a pair of clip-on earrings (property from a private collection and sold for the benefit of the Virginia Historical Society) realized $1920 (est. $600/900). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

This pair of 14k white gold, pearl, and diamond clip-back earrings from the Reventlow estate was set with one pearl on each with each measuring approximately 12 mm, surrounded by diamonds on three-quarters of the crescent. The total carat weight of the full- and single-cut diamonds was approximately one carat by formula per earring. The pearls did not match; one is a gray Tahitian; the other, a light gray Mabe with a drill hole. The pair realized $5760 (est. $1500/2500). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

This Cartier gold medallion on a teak panel was marked “Cartier Paris” and was probably from the third quarter of the 20th century, according to Nadeau. It brought $1920 (est. $300/500). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

Another top seller from the Reventlow estate was this Ostertag Art Deco 18k yellow gold compact with compartments for lipstick, lighter, mirror, powder, watch, and comb. It was set with 66 rubies and 66 diamonds, and each piece had an eagle head touchmark stamped “Ostertag Paris Depose 39149.” Weighing a total of 289.9 grams, the compact sold well above the high estimate for $19,200 (est. $4000/7000). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

This Patek Philippe man’s wristwatch, 18k gold with a gold band and black dial set with diamonds, was marked “E. Gübelin Patek Philippe Geneve.” It sold for $9600 (est. $3000/5000). Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

Maxine Wolff Shapiro’s display during the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, held in Baltimore, Maryland, in August 2014. The display cases and lighting were among the items stolen in Chantilly, Virginia, on the night of January 11 or early morning January 12. Maxine Wolff Shapiro Antiques Estate Jewelry photo.

This pair of earrings (one shown) was repurposed by Shapiro from an antique Art Deco platinum and diamond watch that was cut in half. She added the large citrine to complete the design. The one-of-a-kind pair of earrings would sell for about $3500. Maxine Wolff Shapiro Antiques Estate Jewelry photo.

This platinum, ruby, and diamond ring from 1930 was valued at $4500. Maxine Wolff Shapiro Antiques Estate Jewelry photo.

A Cautionary Tale for Jewelry Dealers Who Sell at Shows

The fear of being robbed of one’s inventory may lurk in the back of the minds of dealers who travel to shows. That fear became a reality for Maxine Wolff Shapiro when she and her husband, David, woke up on the morning of January 12 to find that the trailer carrying their complete inventory of jewelry was no longer attached to their van.

Shapiro recounted the story in an e-mail: “We had just finished a show at the Dulles Expo Center called The DC Big Flea Antique Market. We were too tired to drive home, so went back to our hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn in Chantilly, Virginia, at approximately 7:30 p.m. We had the trailer locked and attached to our van with a lock. When we went outside the next morning at approximately 10:00 a.m., we found the trailer had been stolen.”

Upon the discovery of the theft, Shapiro called the police, who filed a report. As we have heard before, theft of property is not high on the priority list for police forces, who must first contend with violent crime and the like. There were no video cameras in the parking lot at the Marriott.

When I spoke with Shapiro in a telephone interview on January 19, she said, “I do shows from Brimfield, Massachusetts, down to Florida and out to Las Vegas. For those big shows that are far away, I send everything by Dunbar or Brinks. But this was a small show, and we were going from one show to another, so I took it myself, which was a terrible mistake.”

Shapiro e-mailed later that day and reported that their Wells Cargo trailer was found and had been taken to police headquarters for fingerprinting. She wrote again on Wednesday, January 21, saying that the thieves had “left some jewelry—mostly the lower-end items—not a lot of it,” and that they “definitely sorted through it all!” It was obvious to her that the criminals knew exactly what they were looking for.

It wasn’t just jewelry that was stolen. “They took nine jewelry showcases. They took everything from tablecloths to portable walls. Every piece of electrical equipment, lighting…it was as if someone drove up to a retail jewelry store, put wheels on it and drove away!”

Shapiro’s laptop computer, her personal suitcase with clothing and jewelry, her Go-Go scooter, and a security camera system were also among the missing items.

The merchandise consisted of approximately 600 to 800 pieces of jewelry. Shapiro said they were in the process of putting together an inventory for their insurance carrier and could only estimate that the value of the merchandise was approximately “$400,000-plus…we had insurance—but sadly, you never have enough.”

Shapiro has built a business that expands beyond the retail and wholesale markets. “Besides selling this jewelry retail, I also had developed a bit of an expertise” in leasing some rare and unusual pieces to the film and television industry. She said, “Remember the movie Lincoln? They filmed that in Richmond. And I was lucky enough to have an exclusive on all the jewelry in that movie. I rented them most of the jewelry, and sold a lot of the jewelry to the people [in the movie]. The only thing that was not mine was the pearl necklace that Sally Fields wears the whole time, and that was an exact copy of the one that’s in the Smithsonian. Hal Holbrook bought a ring from us.”

She also rented jewelry for use in American Horror Story, season three. “I’ve got pictures of Kathy Bates wearing some of my earrings, and she bought a ring.”

Shapiro noted that even though it’s been difficult to bounce back after this experience, she has something positive to report. “The silver lining in all this is, when you think of the inhumanity of someone doing this—basically stealing your life…the humanity in it is, the people who have called—other dealers that I don’t even know that well, calling and emailing, ‘What can I do for you? Can I help you?’” She is humbled by the outpouring of support and offers of help.

Anyone with information about the theft may contact Shapiro via email [email protected]. She said, “I am more than willing to offer a reward for any information leading to the arrest or finding of my merchandise.” The case number in Fairfax County, Virginia, is 20150120080. Detective Chad Ellis is handling this matter. He can be contacted at [email protected] or (703) 814-7026.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2015 Maine Antique Digest

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Gold Jumps to One-Week High as India Leaves Import Tax Unchanged

March 2, 2015 Posted by admin


Gold prices in India jumped to the highest level in more than a week after the world’s largest consumer unexpectedly left the import tax on the metal unchanged.

Futures rallied as much as 1 percent to 26,490 rupees ($430) per 10 grams, the highest since Feb. 19, on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. in Mumbai. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley retained the duty at 10 percent in the federal budget on Saturday. Seven of the 10 jewelers and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg this month had predicted a tax cut.

The extension of import tax may spur smuggling and increase the premium jewelers pay to banks and other shippers for bullion. The tariff is the last of the import restrictions imposed in 2013 to contain a record current-account deficit that drove the rupee to an all-time low. The deficit has narrowed with the plunge in crude oil, helping the rupee rebound and allowing Jaitley to ease controls on shipments.

“Imports will increase now as for the past two months people were waiting for the reduction in duty,” Mehul Choksi, chairman of Gitanjali Gems Ltd., said by phone from Mumbai. “With Akshaya Tritiya around the corner, imports will only rise next month.”

Akshaya Tritiya, considered by India’s more than 900 million Hindus as an auspicious day to buy precious metals, falls on April 21 this year. Bullion is bought in India during festivals and marriages as part of the bridal trousseau or gifted in the form of jewelry by relatives.

Shrinking Deficit
India raised the tax three times in 2013 and linked imports to re-exports to contain the deficit and the decline in the currency. The steps helped narrow the deficit to $32.4 billion in the 2013-14 financial year, from $87.8 billion the previous year, according to the Reserve Bank of India. The government allowed more agencies to import gold in May and scrapped the 20:80 rule requiring importers to sell 20 percent of their purchases to jewelers for re-export in November.

The measures raised expectation that the government may lower the duty. The All India Gems Jewellery Trade Federation, which had urged the government to cut the tariff to 2 percent, on Saturday said the industry was disappointed with Jaitley’s decision to retain the tax.
“The budget offers nothing for the gems and jewelry sector,” Bachhraj Bamalwa, federation’s director, said by phone from Kolkata. The plan to monetize gold won’t be effective unless jewelers are involved along with the banks, he said.

Minting Coins
A plan to monetize part of the more than 20,000 metric tons of locally stockpiled gold will allow depositors to earn interest in their metal accounts and jewelers to obtain loans against such deposits, Jaitley said. Government will also begin production of gold coins embossed with Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel symbol on the Indian flag, to reduce dependence on imports and spur recycling of domestic stockpiles.

India plans to offer sovereign gold bonds to investors as an alternative to bullion, Jaitley said. The bonds will carry fixed rate of interest and will be redeemable in cash at the face value of the metal, he said.

“It is imperative to nurture the savings mindset embedded in households through gold accumulation, and then use it to enhance savings, putting it to work for the economy,” P.R. Somasundaram, managing director for the World Gold Council in India, said in an e-mailed statement. “The import duty at 10 percent continues, but we believe it should be rationalized soon.”

India took China’s spot as biggest buyer of the metal last year, reclaiming the position it last held in 2012, after jewelry demand jumped to the highest level since at least 1995, according to the council. India’s total demand in 2014 was 842.7 tons, 14 percent lower on year, while China’s sank 38 percent to 813.6 tons, it said.

About 200 tons of gold was smuggled in 2014, after controls drove premiums paid by jewelers to as much as $160 an ounce over the London cash price, according to the federation. Since then, the premium has tumbled to about $1, it estimates.

Shares of jewelry retailers fell in Mumbai after the budget announcement. Titan Co. tumbled 3.2 percent to 421.40 rupees, Gitanjali slid 2.4 percent to 52 rupees, while PC Jewller Ltd. fell 7 percent to 253.70 rupees.
Source: Bloomberg

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How Asheville businesses take on risk and rise above it – Asheville Citizen

March 1, 2015 Posted by admin

Eva-Michelle Spicer’s life began like something out of a fairy tale.

Fine jewelry of silver and gold filled rooms steps from her nursery, as did glass cases of sapphires, diamonds, rubies and pearls.

Though her future was never set in stone, the daughter of Eva and Michael Greene and the granddaughter of Lucia and Paul Greene, could not deny her place in the business dynasty.

At just 4 years old, Eva-Michelle was already answering phones at the family store, Wick Greene Jewelers. By the time she was 7, she had made her first $25,000 sale.

When she returned to the shop with her husband and fellow jeweler, Elliott Spicer, the store at 121 Patton Ave. was as familiar to her as her childhood home.

“Holidays, summers — anytime I wasn’t in school, I was here,” Eva-Michelle Spicer said as she stood in one of the showrooms at Wick Greene Jewelers.

But last spring, the newlywed couple bought the 89-year-old jewelry store from Eva-Michelle’s parents and started running the business themselves, which is the part where the fairy tale ends and another story begins.

The couple took a chance and decided to bet on themselves in the business world, one of the most high-stakes arenas a 26-year-old and a 25-year-old can find themselves in outside of a Las Vegas casino. But they know this.

The economy makes but one promise to all entrepreneurs: There will be risk.

Asheville today — with its belief that local matters most — was built on risks taken by a generation that fought off the downtown’s demise, people like Eva-Michelle’s family.

Though risk has changed over time and taken on new forms, the courage entrepreneurs showed then is no less of a necessity today.

The long-timers

As much as anyone in Asheville, Frank Smith knows that to be true.

Smith cast his lines in waters around the world, where he will wait for hours just for the chance to reel in something big.

Though the 73-year-old tries to vacation in Argentina and other foreign countries with great fishing when he can, one of his most rewarding adventures happened stateside and on land.

Smith opened Hunter Banks, a fly fishing store, 30 years ago on Montford Avenue. He said he started it on a whim, but the business has been able to stay afloat because of more than that.

“When we opened in 1985, we were a small fly shop just catering to Asheville. That was really our only goal,” Smith said. “Now we’ve grown and we’re three or four times bigger than we were then, and we’re not only serving Asheville but the entire Southeast.”

These rewards, though, have been a byproduct of great risk.

“Fly fishing is a tiny little niche business, and you’ve really got to be good at it, and have the right people and enough capital to make it work,” he said.

When Smith opened the business, he sunk part of his own savings into the operation. Though two other friends also pitched in and helped launch Hunter Banks, Smith would be the one who would take it a step further and buy them out to own the business outright.

When the recession hit in 2008, the fly fishing shop took a dive. After increasing at a rate of almost 25 percent for a number of years, the shop saw its sales decline 40 percent.

“When you’re thinking of doing it, of opening a business, think of the worst possible case — the worst possible business case that can happen. You have to ask yourself whether are you willing to accept that if that happens,” Smith said. “You sleep a whole lot better at night knowing that no matter what happens, you can survive the next day.”

Ken Flynt, the associate dean of the College of Business at Western Carolina University, said Smith is right: You can’t have success without being confident enough to take some chances and make some bold decisions.

“If there were no risk, there would be no reward and everybody could do it and it would be easy,” Flynt said. “If you’re really an entrepreneur, you’re willing to take the risk. Doing nothing will almost always guarantee that you’re going to lose something.”

According to statistics from the Small Business Administration, about half of all new business establishments will survive for more than five years, and about one-third of all new businesses survive for more than a decade.

As time goes on, the percentage of businesses that survive declines.

From products in the store that just won’t sell to an unexpected loss in profit for months at a time, risk takes many forms and changes with the times.

Today, capital can be acquired in new creative ways, from crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter all the way to more traditional sources like a bank loan. But in the mid-80s, Smith’s method of pooling money together with his friends was one of the few ways to start a business.

“Back then, we were going to be focused on things nearby us geographically. And if we were going to raise capital, we had a very simple and limited amount of options here in Western North Carolina,” Flynt said. “That capital was going to come from friends, family, church members, neighbors — people that trusted you and knew you were a smart person.”

When Paula Dawkins needed a studio and retail space to make and sell her fine, handcrafted jewelry in 1983, she chose a storefront on Lexington Avenue that she could rent for $200 a month. However, the goldsmith’s creations did not fit with demand at the time. The focus had to shift right from the beginning.

“When we first started, Asheville could not support our store as it was, so we did a wholesale line of jewelry and we would sell it at handmade craft shows and galleries,” said Carol Schniedewind, the co-owner of Jewels That Dance, who joined the business in 1984. “You have to be flexible and be able to change with the times.”

When the shop relocated to Haywood Street in 1985, risk tagged right along.

“When we moved out here, things were boarded up. It was a huge risk,” Schniedewind said of Haywood Street in the mid-80s. “There was absolutely no guarantee people would walk down the street and walk in your door.”

As revitalization efforts started sweeping across downtown Asheville, people started to trickle into the downtown district. But with fine jewelry, people do not just walk into a store and decide to make a large purchase on a lark.

Schniedewind credits part of the store’s survival to the fact that the shop still offers jewelry services, like restoring necklaces, retail offerings, as well as Hawkins’ ability to create custom jewelry pieces for people.

When the store on Haywood resembled an art gallery more than a traditional jewelry store, it could have dissuaded people from visiting the small business. Instead, Dawkins and Schniedewind trusted themselves.

“We didn’t look like your average jewelry store. We were more of the gallery jewelry store, the studio store; and that was a new concept for people. Now it’s not,” Schniedewind said. “But when we started, the idea of a gallery store was very different. People didn’t quite know what to make of us.”

After Dawkins became a member of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, it added a dimension of understanding about what Jewels That Dance is all about. That doesn’t mean it’s easy now, though.

Schniedewind said she still thinks of the business as something that’s still somewhat of an upstart operation, even though it’s been around for 32 years.

“If you’re not comfortable not knowing the answer, this is not the game for you,” Dawkins said of running a small business. “I believe it to this day: Everything is a risk. Everything’s a gamble.”

Contemplating next steps

The Spicers felt the weight of three generations of business owners on their shoulders when they bought Wick Greene in May. It wasn’t just a store or a retail space. It was a piece of local history.

“When you look at it, about less than 25 percent of family businesses make it to the second generation. Less than 10 percent of those make it to the third generation, and less than 4 percent of those make it to the fourth,” Eva-Michelle Spicer said.

Before the Greene family entered the business, a man named Ernie Wick left New York for Asheville in 1926 and opened a jewelry repair shop. The store, then called Pick Wick, was located on Wall Street near the spot where Early Girl Eatery now serves its Southern fare.

In 1942, Wick was able to take on an apprentice at his downtown Asheville shop. That apprentice was Paul Greene, who after learning the jewelry business from Wick, became a full partner in the business in 1953. Thus, Wick Greene came to be.

The store has gone through many changes since. The trade shop turned into a full-service jewelry shop in 1971, complete with jewelry manufacturing and a retail store. Four years later, Paul Greene’s son (and Eva-Michelle Spicer’s father), Michael Greene, joined the family business.

In 1986, the store moved into the old Exxon gas station on Patton Avenue, and transformed it into the jewelry store that stands at 121 Patton Ave. today.

The young jewelers aren’t just leaning on name recognition, though. Eva-Michelle Spicer said they need to make jewelry shopping an accessible experience for the next generation of customers. That’s why the store now offers a range of pieces, from as low as $25 all the way up to “the sky’s the limit,” she said.

In retail, it can be especially challenging to stay competitive in an ever-changing and rapidly expanding global marketplace.

When Wick Greene Jewelers opened — and even after it moved to Patton Avenue — Western North Carolina was a very different place for business because, Flynt explained, entrepreneurs could find success in a less crowded marketplace.

“Go back three or four decades. Geographically, Western North Carolina was very isolated. We weren’t worried about what was going on in Western Europe,” said Flynt. “You had to be successful within 5, 10 or 20 miles. You weren’t worried about what someone was doing 100 or 1,000 or even 10,000 miles away. That’s just not the case anymore.”

The hardest thing

Despite the number of gift shops in the Asheville area, Robin Campbell has been making her business, Dolce Vita, succeed despite all odds.

Campbell had only been working at the Wall Street gift store for four months when the owner pulled her aside and asked Campbell if she would like to buy the business.

At first, Campbell laughed it off. In her four months as an employee, she had been reworking the store and helping with product presentation and even suggesting what might sell, but even so, she never saw herself as an entrepreneur.

“It was my mom who said I had to do this. She saw something in me that, at the time, I did not see in myself and she co-signed the lease, got my grandmother to give me part of my inheritance and I bought the business January of 2003,” the 40-year-old said. “I’m on my thirteenth year and it is hands-down the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I’ve been through so much with this store.”

When she took over at Dolce Vita, Campbell was living with her parents and still learning what it meant to run a business of her own.

“I went without a paycheck for at least the first two to three years. I would pay for my cellphone, because it was the business cellphone, and give myself tiny bits here and there, but I had to put everything I could into the business,” Campbell said. “I always made sure I paid my employees, but I didn’t think it was as important that I got paid, too.”

Listening to her customers, she said, has been crucial to the store’s longevity. Initially, the shop sold wine and beer. Today, she said, the beer is gone and a selection of wines that “you can’t get at the grocery store” can be found on the shelves.

Change, she said, is the only constant.

“Once you think you have it figured out, that’s when you get kicked in the butt. That’s when something will come out of left field that you can’t even imagine happening.” she said

The new wave

Though fear was not the primary driver in Jenna Yarosh’s decision to open a pet supply store in 2011, it certainly loomed over her as she looked for a location. On paper, she knew her experience was not exactly a straightforward recipe for success.

Her first-hand business experience was limited to years working retail jobs, both in the pet industry and outside of it.

She had no formal education in the realms of economics or business. Instead, she had gone to college for animal science and a minor in sociology.

“It was like risking my whole future because it was my whole future in Asheville. If I really wanted to stay here, I knew I had got to make this work,” Yarosh said of opening Patton Avenue Pet Company.

For hours at a time, Yarosh surveyed people at the dog park at French Broad River Park.

“I sat on a bench and asked every person I could about where they buy their food, and why they buy it there and whether they would be open to the idea of what I was trying to do,” she said. “I went to trade shows and I researched things. I was so scared the whole time because I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

In 2011, her business opened in a renovated house in West Asheville. The demand surprised her, but the store outgrew its space quickly. In June, Patton Avenue Pet Company opened a second location in downtown Asheville. Though it was the best option for them at the time, there was still a risk. Success on the West side did not guarantee success in a second location, too.

“The biggest risk was that we would be working so close to our other store. They are only about 3 miles apart from each other. We didn’t want to cannibalize our own business and make people choose,” she said.

The hardest lesson for the new entrepreneur, so far, has been learning to keep feelings out of the business.

“My dad’s number one piece of advice is that you can’t put emotion into business,” she said. “I keep telling myself that I have to keep it objective. Even if I love this new dog toy, but the toy’s not selling, then I can’t have it in the store. No matter how great it is, if people aren’t buying it, I can’t have it.”

Though she called her father, who is a businessman, on a regular basis during the first two years, she said that the rules of operating a small business are being rewritten in real-time.

“They speak about business as if there’s all these rules telling you that you’ve got to hit this number and hit that number to be successful. But you’ve got to have heart; you’ve got to fit into Asheville and there’s no way to enumerate that,” she said. “You have to talk to people and see what people want and what kind of feelings that your business brings to your community. You have to be a little more creative because the rules have changed.”

It’s one of the reasons why she does not advertise in traditional forms of media, and spends her advertising and marketing funds almost exclusively on Google and Facebook ads.

These skills, said Flynt, the WCU associate dean, need to be learned by small business owners, whether their shop has been in operation for 10 months or almost 100 years.

“To me, marketing has changed more than anything else in business,” he said. “These days, you’ve got funeral homes that are using social media to reach people, because you don’t send cards so much anymore, you send emails.”

At the end of the day, though, running a business comes down to courage and knowing when to push and when to be patient.

Asheville’s existing beer culture attracted Jessica Reiser, her husband, Doug Reiser, and their friend Tim Gormley to move out of Seattle and open a brewery on Asheville’s South Slope.

They didn’t get nervous until a slew of other breweries announced they were heading to the area, too. She wondered if their new operation would be special enough to stand out from the pack.

“I remember feeling that way when we were still living in Seattle and decided everything about coming to Asheville,” she said. “The good thing is I think everybody, currently, brings a different personality to the table as far as their brewing, their branding and what they are passionate about.”

To hedge their bets, though, the brewery started small. When the brewery opened in June 2013, it was a one-barrel system with no employees except for the trio of founders. They were only open three days a week.

The brewery is now working toward building a beer garden behind their South Slope location by summer and is looking for a place to set up a farmhouse brewery.

But there’s always the element of surprise in business, no matter how carefully an entrepreneur plans. Reiser said that’s been the number one lesson she has had to learn.

“It’s a lot like having kids,” she said. “It really forces you to figure out how you can handle situations that are challenging and stressful. But if it’s what you’re passionate about it, it outweighs any stress associated with the risks you take.”

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Pam Stone | Ring comes home via stint on eBay

February 28, 2015 Posted by admin

Local News

Horry County Schools releases call for architects for school building project

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Grass Valley man accused of selling counterfeit gold

February 27, 2015 Posted by admin

A Grass Valley man was arrested this week on charges of selling counterfeit gold bars, police said.

The victims bought $175,500 in gold bars before finding out they were fake, Nevada County District Attorney Clifford Newell said Wednesday.

Watch report: Grass Valley man arrested, charged with selling counterfeit gold

A store owner, Gregory Arnoldi, was arrested and arraigned on three felony counts of possessing and selling counterfeit gold.

“The investigation revealed that the victims had purchased a total of $175,500 worth of gold bullion bars from Arnoldi in two separate transactions in April of 2014,” Newell said in a news release. “In December 2014, (the) victims tried to redeem several of those bars at another gold dealer and learned that the bars were counterfeit.”

Newell told KCRA 3 that Arnoldi sold the victims 135 gold bars.

The bars are smaller than the traditional gold bars.

Newell said they were basically worthless metal covered in a thin layer of low-quality real gold.

Arnoldi is scheduled to appear in court again Thursday morning.

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How To Pick The Perfect Engagement Ring Without Selling Your Kidneys

February 26, 2015 Posted by admin

How To Pick The Perfect Engagement Ring Without Selling Your Kidneys

Shopping for an engagement ring has got to be one of the most angst-ridden things a grown-ass man can go through. Between worrying about the correct sizing, decoding the “one-sixth of your annual salary” thing, and, you know, trying to find a style that your soul mate will want to wear for the rest of her life, buying an engagement ring is a stomach-tangling experience that all the Pepcid AC in Duane Reed couldn’t calm.

And sure, maybe you don’t buy into the whole institution of the engagement ring and think it’s insane to spend so much money on a symbol when she should just, like, feel it, man. I get it. But even if you’re planning on making the symbol of your love out of wood from the park bench where you first made out or out of packing foam because you were her UPS guy, some of this info might still be relevant. Ultimately, the most important thing is what she’s going to like. But yes, damn the man, and congrats on being so edgy.

Either way, take a deep breath. If you take note of what she likes and learn a thing or two about what to look for, the process is at least a little less daunting. In fact, if you go the traditional route, it’s possible to get something really beautiful without needing to sell any vital organs on the black market. That’s why we recruited Lia Wilson and Danielle Mainas of engagement-ring-consultation site Little Bird. They’re here to share some tips on how to select the best symbol of your love without causing a pulmonary embolism. “She’s marrying you, not the ring,” they council. But still, let’s make sure we don’t get a stupid, embarrassing ring.

Cut Grade is More Important Than Carat Weight (Within Reason)

We’ve all heard of carats in relation to diamonds, but most of us don’t actually know what it means. Simply put, a carat is a measurement of weight, and one carat equals one-fifth of a gram. While “more carats” almost always means “more expensive,” it doesn’t always make for a better, more visually appealing diamond. A lot of it comes down to how the diamond is cut. “The cut grade refers to the proportions of a diamond and the way that all of the facets work together with the diamond’s unique refractive index to create a stunning display of brightness and color,” Little Bird explains. “Cut is not the same as shape. A heart or an oval is a shape. Cut grade refers to how well or poorly the shape was executed.”

Little Bird recommends you try to buy right below the carat line. Why? “Prices jump at the carat mark, so cutters will often compromise on cut precision to try and make a diamond a full carat, or two full carats, etc. There are all sorts of tricks to increase weight that actually detract from the quality of the diamond. Don’t let them fool you. A .98 carat diamond is more likely to be well-proportioned and therefore sparklier.” Think about it like a suit. You can buy top-quality materials, but if the tailoring is terrible, it’ll still look lousy. Little Bird advises you get a diamond with an Excellent or Very Good cut grade if you can afford it, but Good is still quite good. “Pay attention to the cut grade first.”

Know the Color Scale

Diamond color is rated on a scale of D to Z, and they kind of go in groups: DEF, GHI, etc. “Buy G color instead of D, E, or F color,” the ladies of Little Bird tell us. There’s often a huge gap in price between F and G, and the difference is so slight most experts wouldn’t see it without specialized equipment (and maybe not even then). Anything past K, though, and things start to get yellow. If you have to go further than that, consider setting it in yellow gold, which will make the yellowness less noticeable. More on metals in a minute.

Clarifying Clarity

Diamonds form miles under the Earth’s crust over millions to billions of years. In all that time, it’s not so surprising that little bits of other elements get pushed into your lovely jewel. The rarest diamonds are rated F for “Flawless,” and they will cost you a lot of coin. Moving down from there, there’s IF for “Internally Flawless,” VVS for “Very Very Slightly Included,” and VS for “”Very Slightly Included,” and so on, with a few different levels within each classification. Generally speaking, the more inclusions, the less brightly your diamond will shine. Little Bird says that the sweet spot between perfect and price is in the VS1 and VS2 range. “Unless you are a trained gemologist looking at the diamond with a 10x magnifying glass, you are going to have no chance of telling the difference between VVS and VS grades,” Little Bird tells us. “In my opinion, the VS1 and VS2 diamonds are a good buy for most people because they are still of very high quality, they have excellent brightness, and they are more reasonably priced.” Sweet.

Certified Bling

“If you are buying a modern (not antique or vintage) diamond, you generally want a diamond certificate with it,” says Little Bird. The Gemological Institute of America (or GIA) has been issuing certificates since the 1950s that vouch for a diamond’s carat weight, clarity grade, cut grade, and color grade. GIA’s gem labs test hundreds of thousands of stones every year, and diamonds will be laser-etched with a number that should match the number on the GIA certificate. Basically, it proves that you’re getting what you pay for. Now, if the diamond doesn’t have a cert that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something shady going on, but if you want a guarantee, get a rock with a cert. The American Gem Society (AGS) issues them, too, and they’re reliable as well.

Diamonds Actually Are Forever

Sure, it’s less expensive to get a larger sapphire or a ruby, and it’ll look great … for a while. But diamonds are three times harder than corundum (the family that sapphires and rubies are in). That means that after 20 years of wear and tear, that rock is likely to look the same as it did on day one, while a sapphire or ruby may need some serious resurfacing.


Of course, the rock is just one part of a ring. What about the rest of it? What’s popular right now? Little Bird tells us that there will always be a demand for a classic solitaire on a plain band, so when it doubt, that’s probably the way to go. That said, they’re also seeing a major rise in people reusing heirloom rings and diamonds, and antique-diamond styles like Old Mine Cuts and European Cuts. They also say that “more and more people are seeking out creative and artistic jewelry designers because they want uniqueness and individuality in their ring.” Ultimately, though, it’s less about what’s in style, and more about what’s her style.

“You don’t have to snoop around your girlfriend’s jewelry box,” say the ladies of LB. “All you have to do is be observant of her and the jewelry that she wears. Does she favor bold, chunky jewelry? Delicate designs with lots of detail? Indie quirky? Luxe with tons of sparkle? Natural materials like wood, shell, or leather? Modern streamlined style?” Start by looking for something that matches her tastes. Also, think about her lifestyle. Is she very active? Then she probably doesn’t want a ring that sticks way out and is going to catch on stuff. Look for something sturdy and low-profile.

Size Matters

How in the hell do you find out what size ring your lady wears on her left-hand ring-finger if she doesn’t wear a ring on that finger? You don’t want to ask her, because that would ruin the surprise. Wait until she passes out drunk and then use a tape-measure? Maybe, but still dodgy. You could borrow a ring from her jewelry box that she wears on the ring finger of her other hand, but know that the sizes could be pretty different.

If you have zero idea as to the size of your intended’s ring finger, get a 6.5. According to Little Bird, that’s the average size for women, and it’s very easy to re-size most rings. The only caveat is that rings that have stones that loop all the way around them generally cannot be resized. Those are typically more for wedding rings, anyway, in which case you’ll probably be shopping with your lady, and she can try it on. The Little Bird ladies also suggest getting a ring that sits low on the finger so it rests snugly against the wedding band. Not only will it be more comfortable, but it will also mean she can continue wearing it with her wedding ring.

All That Glitters …

While gold may be the first thing you think of when it comes to rings, the ladies of Little Bird recommend checking out platinum. “Platinum is more durable, and it keeps its white color better,” LB says. “It can scratch, but it doesn’t wear away. If you get white gold, you will have to get it rhodium-plated every once in a while to keep it looking white. That is because 18k white gold is really an alloy between yellow gold (75 percent), palladium (10 percent), nickel (10 percent), and zinc (5 percent). The other metals wear away quicker, causing the ring to look more yellow over time.” That said, they note that they still love the look of diamonds in 18k yellow gold: “It wears well and doesn’t need re-plating.” So, platinum or 18k yellow gold is the safest bet, got it?

The Conflict-Free Conundrum

You’ll hear this phrase bandied about all the time, but most people don’t know what a “conflict-free diamond” really is, and with good reason: It’s an extremely nebulous term. “All diamonds that are sold legally (in most countries) have been certified according to the Kimberley Process,” Little Bird explains. “That means that the sale of the diamonds did not go to fund conflict in countries where armed groups are fighting the government, and each government issues a certificate that the diamonds that are legally leaving the country were mined under humane conditions.”

Sounds great, right? Well, here’s the thing: There’s a lot of debate about the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process. “As is usually the case, the term ‘humane’ is interpreted differently by certain governments,” they continue. “And the Kimberley Process does not guarantee that governments don’t look the other way about some pretty bad conditions. Also, ‘Ethically Sourced’ does not address the ethics of environmental destruction, habitat destruction OR the absolutely insane amount of water that mining consumes.”

In other words, “‘conflict-free’ is about as precise a term as the word ‘natural’ on a food label,” Little Bird says. Basically, there are no guarantees, and there isn’t a simple website where you can look up your diamond and see if it’s been ethically sourced or not. If it’s really important to you, buy from a place that knows (for sure) what mine their stones come from, and then research that specific mine. The best bet is probably a Canadian diamond, because their mines are typically known for having the best conditions for workers and to be a little easier environmentally. Or, if you want to go the safest route, get an antique or vintage diamond (or ring). At least that way you’re re-using rather than mining for a new stone. It’s the same principles of recycling applied to jewelry.

Bottom Line

So what did we learn here today? Look for a diamond that’s just under a carat mark, with a color rating of G, a clarity rating of VS1 or VS2, and a cut grade of Excellent or Very Good, then have it put on a size 6.5 ring (unless you know her actual size) made of platinum or 18k yellow gold that can be worn toward the base of her finger. Or, if you want some personalized help, contact our highly recommended experts at Little Bird. Helping guys find the right ring is what they do, and they give free engagement-ring consultations. (Thanks, ladies!)

Ultimately, there’s nothing that can completely de-claw this beast. It’s a stressful proposition at best and outright terrifying at worst. Just remember: This is supposed to be about love and stuff, and love (and stuff) is the most important element here. That said, hopefully we’ve armed you with enough information to keep you from just calling the whole thing off.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

Adequate Man is Deadspin’s new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.

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Putting a Price on Simon Kuznets’s Nobel in Economics

February 25, 2015 Posted by admin

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Why the 18-karat Apple Watch will never be a top-tier luxury timepiece

February 24, 2015 Posted by admin

As the release of the Apple Watch draws near, speculation about its pricing has grown louder. We already know the watches will start at $349. But Apple will offer a myriad of bands, sizes, and features, and the price tag of the most expensive version — the “Edition” series, which comes encased in 18-karat rose or yellow gold — is still a mystery. But how high can the price go? And where does the Apple Watch stand on the spectrum of high-end timepieces?

The numbers issuing from the rumor mill and from VentureBeat sources seem to average out at about $5,000. If nothing else, this number should remind people that Apple is straddling the line between consumer technology and luxury with this high-end model.

Are people ready to buy a luxury item — with a luxury price tag — from Apple? Very likely.

Apple will not sell millions of the Edition series watches in the first year, but it doesn’t have to. There’s nothing strange or rare about people spending big bucks on watches. Just as much money is spent on luxury wristwatches each year as is spent on sub-$500 watches.

According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, only about 2 percent (545,000) of the watches exported by the Swiss in 2014 were made from precious metals, yet those watches generated 38 percent of the revenue. The far less expensive steel watches constituted 55 percent of the units sold (15.7 million), but generated the exact same portion of the revenue — 38 percent. The precious metals and steel watches were in a virtual tie for the top revenue-generating category.

Another way of looking at it is that watches costing $3,000 and up constituted two out of every three dollars spent on watches during 2014. Still another pricing study suggests that 80 percent of the total revenue in the wristwatch industry is generated by watches that cost more than $10,000.

Apple has gone a long way in both materials and design to make the Watch hold its own in the realm of serious luxury wristwatches. Some people think Apple has managed to pull it off. “Apple has paid excruciating attention to detail in the design and wearability of the Apple Watch,” wrote Benjamin Clymer, wristwatch expert and editor of “In many cases, its offerings make what is coming out of Switzerland (or Asia) look amateurish.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.21.18 AM

Above: The prices of some of the nicer metal and leather bands available from Apple for the Watch are also still a mystery.


Many initial buyers will be willing to pay for the sheer novelty of Apple’s first foray into the world of, well, jewelry.

“I expect that there will be a lot of wealthy Chinese real estate moguls — the young, the nouveau riche — who will buy these watches right away,” said Sonny Vu, CEO of wearables maker Misfit.

The Edition Watches will help pull other types of buyers into the vortex, too. “Apple’s products have always been aspirational,” Vu points out.

By putting a very high-priced Watch at the top of the line, Apple might entice more people to buy Watches lower down in the price range, Vu suggests. Even if a consumer decides he can’t afford the $5,000 Edition Watch, he may be tempted to buy the $349 low-end Watch that he can afford, he says.

Pascal Koenig of The Smartphone Group in Zurich agrees with Vu that high price points of the Edition Watches could help Apple sell more of the less expensive Watches.

“In general, we believe it is right for Apple to go for various design options and price points,” Koenig says in a note to VentureBeat. “The high-priced watches make the entry-level watches at $350 seem priced attractively.”

Apple Watches

Above: The Watch, Watch Sport, and Watch Edition lines will be available in two sizes with a variety of band styles. While the Watch will start at $349, different combinations of Watches and bands could result in a myriad of price points.


But there’s one thing that is likely to keep Apple from competing in the same league with $20,000 Rolex watches — resale value.

The Edition Watches, let’s remember, aren’t like other luxury watches — they are half computer gizmo and half wristwatch. The outside of the watch may be built like a luxury wristwatch but on the inside it’s all chips and circuits — not metal gears.

In later iterations of the Watch, Apple will rely on firmware upgrades to keep devices already in the wild up to date. But that will go only so far. After a couple of years of ownership the first generation 18-karat gold Apple Watch will be outdated beyond anything a firmware update can fix. The Watch will become thinner. It may incorporate a better battery. It might get a camera.

That’s one of the reasons Koenig’s group believes the Edition-series Watches will be priced between $3,000 and $7,000, but no more. “Based on the fact that the product lifetime of the Apple Watch will be 1 to 3 years, any ‘reasonable’ buyer (and that is what Apple is looking for) would probably not spend more than this,” Koenig says.

And what do you do with your 18-karat gold Apple Watch when it’s become outdated? You probably won’t hand it down to your son or daughter. There’s likely to be $800 to a grand worth of gold in the device. You could melt it down. Maybe Apple will start a Watch buyback program in which it buys the gold back from you and puts it toward a new Watch.

Not a bad idea, really.

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