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Announcing the MJA 2017 Gemmy Awards Winners

The MJA Gemmy Awards design competition was a great success with jewelers, designers and goldsmiths entering designs of one of-a-kind pieces that demonstrated creativity, artistry, style and excellence. Jewelers voted online this year for Jeweler's Choice. 
... and the winners are ...
Jewelry Up to $2,000
Thomas Dailing, Lee Ayers Jewelers,
Stevens Point, WI
Jewelry $2,001 to $5,000
Karin Burg, Corner Studio Jewelers, Sheboygan Falls, WI
Jewelry $5,001 to $10,000
Rita Ward, Barnes Jewelers, Oconomowoc, WI
Jewelry $10,000 & Over
John Langenfeld, Gold Diamond & Design, Kenosha, WI
CAD Jewelry
Bernie Benavidez, Master Jewelers, Rochester, MN
New Designer Award
Deanna Hennen, JF Kruse Jewelers, St. Cloud, MN
Jeweler’s Choice Award
Karin Burg, Corner Studio Jewelers
Sheboygan Falls, WI
Congratulations to our 2017 winners!

GIA Diamond Grading Lab Class

MJA is sponsoring a GIA lab class – Diamond Grading – October 16-20.  The lab is hosted by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company in Neenah, WI.  The class is full.  On Monday evening, October 16, GIA lab instructor Shelly Verwymeren will be presenting a program on “Identifying Synthetic Diamonds”.  Over 30 people signed up to attend.  In 2018 we are hoping to sponsor another Diamond Grading lab in May and Gem Identification in August.  We will provide an update once the scheduling is complete with GIA. 

Store Closures are down, but so are openings

(Provided by Instore Magazine, July, 2017)

The Jewelers Board of Trade reported that 195 U.S. jewelry retailers closed their doors in the second quarter of 2017.  That number represented a significant decrease — 42 percent — from 337 closings in the second quarter of 2016.  The total included 154 retailers in the category of "ceased operations" as well as 34 "consolidations (sale/merger)" and seven bankruptcies.  The total number of U.S. jewelry businesses that closed, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, was 235. That was a 49 percent decrease from 460 in the first quarter of 2016.  The number of new jewelry businesses also decreased in the second quarter. 

JBT reported that 22 new retailers opened their doors in the U.S., down from 60 in the second quarter of 2016.  The total number of new jewelry businesses, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, was 25. That was down from 81 new businesses in the year-ago quarter.  JBT listed a total of 19,920 jewelry retailers in the U.S. as of the second quarter of 2017, down from 20,943 in the same quarter a year ago.  The group listed 26,396 jewelry businesses in all, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. That was down from 27,830 in the second quarter of 2016.

How to Create a Social Media Policy for Your Employees

Want to help your employees better engage on social media?  Wondering how a social media policy can help?  A social media policy gives your employees guidelines for interacting with

customers and protecting their personal safety, as well as your business’s reputation.  In this article, you’ll discover three tips for creating a social media policy for your employees.

#1: Explain Who Can Speak for Your Company on Social Media

Your social media policy needs to explain who can or can’t speak on behalf of the company on social media. For example, Walmart has a strict social media policy that prohibits regular employees from answering customer complaints or questions directed toward the company. They have an official social media team specifically for that purpose.  Walmart’s strict policy errs on the side of caution to avoid misunderstandings that can arise when an employee speaks on behalf of the company.

However, not all policies have to be as strict as Walmart’s. In fact, a more relaxed policy can still protect your business and generate trust among your staff and fans.  Experienced employees who are passionate about customer service may have solid advice to help customers resolve their concerns.  Whether your social media policy is more strict or relaxed depends on your business and your knowledge of your employees. Stifling employees’ ability to express themselves can diminish the customer experience. However, passionate employees could be unaware that their resolutions may not be in line with the company’s intentions.  If you want to allow a casual discussion environment, you can train your entire staff to engage with customers in a way that maintains the company’s standards while providing customers with the experience that their voice is heard.  If you don’t want casual interactions on social media because you want to maintain a strict business presence, assign social media interaction to specific staff members and train them accordingly.

#2: Create Detailed Guidelines for Business and Personal Conduct on Social Media

Your social media policy should provide detailed content guidelines for all of your employees who regularly (or occasionally) post on social media as your business. To help employees understand your expectations and create a consistent voice for the business, you can include standard responses to common situations in your policy.  To prepare, first brainstorm all of the possible situations such as unhappy customers, customers who want a refund, complaints on Yelp, libel, slander, copyright infringement, and even threats. Then decide how you want

your employees on social media to handle each situation.  Handling conflicts on social media, conflicts about your business can escalate quickly. Your policy should give employees clear

direction about how to respond.  During a disagreement online, employees may want to jump into a conversation to defend the company, but it’s not a good idea.  As you cover how to handle conflicts, remind employees that anytime they engage in a discussion about the company, whether they’re posting as the business or from their personal accounts, they’re representing the

company by association.  To ensure conflicts are handled properly from the start, ask employees to notify you (or the person who holds the appropriate job title) of any potential online conflicts instead of engaging through your business profile or their personal profile. With this approach, you improve your ability to resolve the issue instead of doing extensive damage control.

For Every Don’t, Include a Do

When your social media policy restricts employees from answering customer concerns and questions through social media, many employees will nevertheless want to help address customer concerns. When employees are prohibited from sharing their thoughts, they’ll end up feeling like they can’t help at all, and that could lead them to feel resentment toward the company.  When you establish ways your employees shouldn’t comment on behalf of the company, explain what employees should do instead, especially when they come across a customer with a problem that needs to be resolved.

Posting Carefully on Personal Accounts

It’s not enough to have guidelines only for employees who represent your business on social media. You need to set guidelines for your employees to follow on their personal accounts as well.  In a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter what someone does in their personal life. But the truth is, your employees will always be a reflection on you and your brand in the eyes of the world.  And if your employees are showing up in the world as questionable characters, people will start to wonder about you, too.  To make sure employees avoid posting anything that could potentially come back to bite you (or them) later, your policy can outline basic expectations such as respecting the law (including copyright law), checking facts and sources to verify that information is truthful, and so on.  Your policy can reinforce the importance of conduct on personal accounts by explaining how online posts can remain available forever. Although you can delete your own posts, someone can take a screenshot of it.  Although search engines don’t index Facebook posts, sites like Way Back Machine or those that scrape content can capture social media sites that are indexed.

#3: Protect Your Employees and Sensitive Business Information

You can’t assume employees know what you consider “sensitive information.” Also, many people have a habit of sharing every aspect of their lives on social media. For these reasons, your policy needs to clarify what business related information employees shouldn’t share.  Your policy needs to prohibit posts that put your business or staff at risk and explain how or why certain information creates a risk. If you run a coffee shop, for example, information about your opening procedures can be considered sensitive information because someone can easily use it when looking to steal from or hurt your employees.  Similarly, a staff member might not think about the ramifications of posting a 4 AM update to Facebook saying they’re alone in the parking lot waiting for their opening partner to show up. However, that kind of post can put the safety of your staff at risk. Your employees shouldn’t tell the world when they’re alone.  Also, your social media marketing team may need clear guidelines about sharing information with the public. However, you don’t want to share the details too soon. Your social media policy can clarify how marketers determine whether it’s okay to post about new products still in development.


It’s common for some employees to bemoan the idea that they need to behave themselves on their personal social media accounts as a condition of employment. Also, hearing the term policies can send employees’ eyes rolling for good reason: Many policies can be outdated, arbitrary, and serve little purpose. They can be restrictive and limit creativity and genius.

Every business owner knows implementing rules is more difficult when they alter the way things have always been done. And that rule applies to adding a social media policy to your marketing team’s stack of resources.  If you need to share a new policy with your existing team, just sit down with them and explain what it is and why it’s being implemented. As long as you can get them to understand how it supports the business, they’re more likely to accept it without resistance.  A great way to handle this situation is by making sure your social media policies are clearly explained to all candidates prior to hiring them. This will give them a heads-up that you have high expectations and standards from the start, avoiding the potential for surprises down the road.  Your social media presence is one of the most vital components of your marketing toolbox. To protect your business, your social media policy should be transparent on all sides and structured in a way that leaves you confident you’re not putting your team at risk.

16 Ways to Stay Alert for Check & Credit Card Fraud

Brought to you by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company

Individuals looking to carry out fraud using checks or credit cards to steal jewelry will attempt to make their transactions with jewelers appear authentic. To earn your trust and get you to lower your guard, they’ll spin tall tales about graduations, gifts that need to be purchased in a rush, or gifts being shipped to soldiers overseas.  Of course, you always want to provide exemplary customer service and to make sales — but it pays to remain wary. Take these precautions before accepting a check or credit card transaction:

  1. Be suspicious of someone from out of state attempting to purchase merchandise via email over the phone with a check or credit card, especially when that individual is looking for speedy shipment of merchandise that is readily available in that individual’s area.
  2. For telephone transactions, ask the bank or credit card company that issued the card to verify the caller’s home address. Ship the merchandise only to the address of record.
  3. If you suspect a credit card or check scam, ask the credit card company or bank to contact the account holder to verify the transaction.
  4. In cases of suspected credit card fraud, the US Secret Service has jurisdiction. Contact them if you feel you are involved in a potentially fraudulent transaction.
  5. Be cautious of someone in a hurry using an out-of-state check. Why is that person shopping at your store? (This is more common, of course, if your store is located in an area that draws considerable tourism.)
  6. Someone who gives you a certified, cashier’s, or personal check after banks have closed or on weekends may be trying to complete a sale before you can verify funds with the institution providing them.
  7. Anytime you believe you may have received a counterfeit cashier’s check, official check, or money order from a bank, contact the issuing bank directly to report receipt of the check and verify authenticity. When contacting the bank, do not use the telephone number provided on the instrument, as this number could be associated with the scam artist. You can find the mailing address of the bank on the FDIC website.
  8. Be wary of accepting a check that lacks a pre-printed address or that has a low check number.
  9. The safest practice is never to let merchandise leave your store until the check has cleared and the funds are in your account.
  10. Be aware that your bank may be required by law to make funds available to you even if the check has not yet cleared. However, it could take several weeks to know if the check will clear or not.
  11. Always require two forms of identification for check transactions. One should be a photo ID. Keep a copy of the identification or write down its information.
  12. Compare all signatures carefully from all forms of identification to ensure they match.
  13. Have a process that requires check transactions of a certain amount to receive a store manager’s or owner’s advance approval.
  14. Be wary of checks that are post-dated or that have scratches, odd marks, or other changes.
  15. Use a check-verification service, especially for transactions over a certain amount.
  16. Consider video surveillance in your point-of-sale area, and complete transactions only in that area. Check the equipment often to ensure that it is functioning properly and obtaining quality images of customers’ faces.

In Memorium

Kenneth W. "Ken" Richter
March 19, 1925 - August 2, 2017

Passed away peacefully surrounded by family, on August 2, 2017 at age 92, joining his beloved wife of 65 years Bunny Richter. Loving father of Jerry (Sandra) Richter, Jeff (Ginny) Richter, Rick (Julie) Richter and Lori (David) Stocke. Proud grandfather of Jennifer Graetz, Jonathan W. Richter, Chad (Julia) Richter, Shannon (Vinnie III) Lopez, Justin Richter, Jessie (Chuck) Swedberg, Natalie (Steve) Sorentino, Lara (Mike) Huber, Chris Markuson, Scott (Brenna) Richter, Amy (fiancé Logan) Richter, Kelly (Brien) Beichner, Jeffrey Alberts, Michael Stocke, and “Patrick too”. Dear great-grandfather of 15. Also loved and will be missed by additional family and many friends, especially his bowling buddies.

Ken was a World War II veteran, serving his country in the United States Navy. He was a graduate of Marquette University and worked for Milwaukee County Social Services for 40 years, retiring as the head of the department. After retiring, his sons and grandson were blessed in working with him at WJ Supply Company. Ken played the accordion and piano, enjoyed bowling, fishing and golf with family and friends.

Ken Richter, known as “Dad” to many was a familiar face and a friend to all at the Wisconsin Jewelry Show.  He will be missed. 

Jewelers Mutual ad for fall

MJA Board of Directors

Mary Husar Martin
Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds

Vice President
Sue Karr
Sue Karr Jewelry Inc

John Hayes
Goodman’s Jewelers


Carol Brady
Exclusively Diamonds

John Armbruster
Armbruster Jewelers

John Barnes
Barnes Jewelers

Hanna Cook-Wallace
Studio Jewelers Ltd

Jan Howes
Howes Diamond Jewelers

Lisa Maloney-Lardinois
Creative Design Jewelers

Ed Menk
E. L. Menk Jewelers

Associate Directors
Taffy Davidson

Sheri Ihde
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.

John Maguire
Maguire Refining Inc.

Tim Marr
Ostbye & Anderson

Executive Director
Mary Kaja
Midwest Jewelers Association

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P. O. Box 1604
Madison WI 53701-1604
Phone: (608) 257-3541
Fax: (888) 779-8755