My son just graduated from business school with a degree in marketing and consumer behavior and, since he comes from a jewelry family, I kinda coaxed him to continue the family tradition. He has been going through the "required" job interview process (ugh) and has received a few offers from jewelry companies.

Interestingly enough, he has also received several offers from cosmetic, stock broker, clothing and leather accessory retailers. I was thrilled, indeed.

When he accepted the offer from a leading cosmetic company, however, I was disappointed. "Why not a jewelry company?" I asked.

Salaries at these other companies, he told me, were on average a full 35 percent above the salaries being offered at jewelry companies. In fact, the job he took had a 58 percent higher starting salary than the highest offer he received from a jewelry company.

So this raises a bunch of questions. First, is the jewelry industry a "closed-industry?" If you don't come from a jewelry family, or haven't started as a high school jewelry intern (you know what I mean), does that mean you really can't enter the industry? You're not a "jewelry person?"

Maybe jewelry company executives feel the industry is so complicated that an MBA would be over his head. Or maybe, the industry is so simple, that jewelry executives feel MBAs would be wasting their education.

But no matter what executives think, cosmetic, clothing and accessory retailers' sales and profits (per RMA ratio analysis) are, on average, way higher than jewelry retailers.

Would more competitive salaries have had an impact on the current jewelry industry tumult? What about the industry's future profits and economic health?

Jan Brassem is a founder of Eclipse Global Consulting LLC, a firm that assists jewelry retailers who are expanding into foreign markets and/or sourcing globally. You can e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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