By Michelle Graff
While it might seem hard to believe, July 1 marked the midway point of the year. It was the 182nd day of the year, with 183 left to go.

So what’s been in the news this year, aside from politics?

Well, in the retail world, there has been a wave of store closures rivaling the level reached during the Great Recession. Every day it seems like there’s a new retailer that goes Chapter 11--The Limited, RadioShack, Payless ShoeSource, BCBG Max Azria and Gymboree are just a few of the chains that have filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

In jewelry, though, store closures are not new news this year; they spiked in 2015 and 2016, and the stories documenting the rising number of closures landed on our annual most-read list both years.

Interestingly, the pace of store closures in the jewelry industry actually has slowed this year, according to first quarter statistics from the JBT, and our story on the Q1 stats did not land among the 10 most popular stories on the site to date in 2017.

So what have members of the jewelry industry been interested in this year?

Read on to find out.

1. Jewelry Industry Bullying on Facebook
Last week I received a handwritten letter from a gentleman whom I had briefly dated recently but with whom my relationship ended on a sour note, in a flurry of text messages.

Finding this letter in my mailbox got me thinking about the ways in which we communicate today and how, ultimately, we might be better off if we took more time to think about what we want to say, rather than just pounding out a response on our smartphones or computer keyboards the minute we read something.

It’s interesting to think about how much more carefully people had to consider their words when communication wasn’t so easy and immediate, when you had to pick up the phone and call someone to speak with them and perhaps even wait for them to call you back because they were not there or the line was busy. Or, going back even farther, when people had to sit down and physically write out their thoughts, not knowing how long the letter would take to reach its intended recipient or if it would even get there.

It’s very easy to get messages to people today or to express your opinion publicly, but that hasn’t made what we say any more meaningful or important; in fact, one could argue, technology has had the opposite effect, allowing our most mundane of thoughts a wide reach should we choose to post them.

I am not looking to reopen the infamous ring debate of 2017 but just to offer a bit of advice that I too need to heed: Think before you type; just because it is easy to say something doesn’t make it necessary.

2. 5 Things to Know About … Burmese Rubies
Our Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator introduced her “5 Things to Know About” series this year and started it off with a gemstone recently cleared for import into the United States again, the Burmese ruby.

Her Jan. 25 blog post discussed, among other facts, how the stone gets its coloring, its age relative to rubies from East Africa and the current level of supply.

Happily, another of Brecken’s “5 Things to Know About …” features made it into the top 10 list; her April story on Ethiopian emeralds is below at No. 8.

3. How Much Are US Consumers Spending on Engagement Rings?
Every year, The Knot publishes its Real Weddings Study, a survey of how much couples that use the website spend on various aspects of their weddings, from the cake to the dress to the flowers to their engagement ring.

And every time I hear the figure on average engagement ring spend, which surpassed $6,000 this year, I think: That sounds like a lot. Are people in the U.S. really spending that much on engagement rings that $6K is now the average? Or is just that the demographic of The Knot skews upward? (The Knot did not answer when we asked them for more specific information on their survey demographics.)

So, this year, we included two figures in our story about engagement ring spend: The Knot’s, which put the average spend at $6,163, and a lower figure from Shane McMurray’s The Wedding Report, which had it at $3,407.

4. Two Killed in Separate Weekend Robberies
There was a very sad weekend at the start of the year in which an employee at a Jared the Galleria of Jewelry store in Henderson, Nevada, was shot and killed when an on-site security guard fired a round at a robber and missed.

That same weekend, a 42-year-old man who tried to stop two suspects who were running through the mall after robbing a Kay Jewelers in San Antonio, Texas, was shot and killed by one of them.

5. Forget Millennials, Meet the ‘Midult’
We received a lot of positive feedback on this story, which discussed how women ages 35 to 55 have money to spend but are being overlooked by jewelry marketers in their zeal to figure out how to reach the much-obsessed-about millennial consumer.

Because of this, their money is going elsewhere--to shoes, handbags and clothing.

MVI Marketing CEO Marty Hurwitz said in the story that midults--a term trademarked by a British media website--will buy an average of four to six pairs of shoes a year at a variety of price points but that, “Jewelry has done nothing to go after that woman. We can’t even get them to buy one product a year.”

6. Forbes List of Wealthiest Women Includes 2 from Jewelry
There are a few types of stories that are pretty much universally guaranteed to get a lot of clicks: stories about money, stories about crime and stories about sex. This article covers the first of those three.

7. Shake-Up at Signet: Two Big Retirements, New Roles
The February announcement that both Ed Hrabak and Tryna Kochanek would be retiring this year was the first in what turned out to be a series of personnel changes this year from Signet Jewelers, which has struggled in recent quarters.

And an even bigger one came this week--CEO Mark Light is retiring at the end of the month and will be replaced by Virginia Drosos, the first woman to lead the chain.

8. 5 Things to Know About ... Ethiopian Emeralds
As mentioned above, this was another installment in Brecken’s “5 Things to Know About” series covering various colored gemstones; this one detailed a newly tapped source of emerald located about 300 miles south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

9. $13 Diamond Ring Sells for $850K
The flea market find (or, in this case, car boot sale find) of a lifetime. Stories about lost, found and buried treasure rank almost as highly as those about crime and money, and it’s easy to understand why.

It’s a dream come true to find out something you paid 5 bucks for at a yard sale is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

10. 12 Charged in $9M Diamond District Scam
Federal authorities allege that these 12 men ran a two-year-long scam involving bad checks and broken promises, swindling diamond dealers in New York and Mumbai out of millions.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.