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Topping the list of can’t-miss stories from 2018 is Fashion Editor Ashley Davis’ take on protecting intellectual property in the internet age. Pictured here are pieces from the popular, and oft-copied, “Fireworks” collection by Suzanne Kalan.
Earlier this month, I wrote a story detailing the 18 most-read stories on NationalJeweler.com in 2018.

As I noted, the list was a representative mix of issues that are top-of-mind for the industry—lab-grown diamonds, financing—as well as issues that are ever-present, like crime and engagement ring style trends.

But, as happens every year, there are those articles from our site that don’t get the attention I feel they deserve, seemingly slipping through the cracks and disappearing into the gaping maw that is the internet.

Below, I share a handful of such stories published on NationalJeweler.com in 2018, as well as a few articles from other websites that I enjoyed.

Feel free to share any additions to this list in the comments section below.

1. National Jeweler Fashion Editor Ashley Davis on Instagram and IP
In the 2018 State of the Majors issue, Ashley wrote what I, as the editor, thought was the best story in the book: a 2,000-plus-word examination of the intersection of intellectual property law and Instagram.

My favorite part of the story comes under the subhead “The Democratic Route,” where those interviewed debated whether it’s best to litigate in traditional court or in the court of public opinion, a/k/a “name and shame” online, when it comes to alleged copies.

Ashley’s story did not get as many clicks as the other articles from that issue when we posted it online, which I found disappointing.

But I was heartened to see Ylang 23’s Joanne Teichman share the story on Facebook with this comment: “Ashley Davis for National Jeweler has just published what I believe to be the most comprehensive article on the seamy side of the Designer Jewelry business, which is the practice of ‘faux designers’ knocking off and profiting from original designers. With the proliferation of images through Instagram and Pinterest, the battle over IP will only escalate.”

Yep.

2. National Jeweler Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator on abandoned jewelry
In the interests of keeping the peace around here in 2019, I’d next like to mention a work by my senior editor, Brecken.

In April, she wrote a story that was not designed to generate debate or tackle a controversial topic but, instead, was purely reader-driven and instructional.

Brecken shared five things jewelers should keep in mind when dealing with unclaimed jewelry, i.e., a piece of jewelry or watch that was dropped off for repair and never picked up.

20181031 SOTM designers2Another of the designers featured in Ashley Davis’ story on intellectual property protection in the digital age was Brooklyn, New York-based Wwake, founded by designer Wing Yau. A selection of Yau’s rings are pictured here.

3. Edahn Golan on the real size of the U.S. jewelry market
This pick is also a bit of a new year peace-keeping mission, as Mr. Golan works as a freelance researcher for National Jeweler, compiling the figures for our annual State of the Majors report (and is a longtime colleague and friend of mine).

In August, I noted in a story that the U.S. Department of Commerce had published its annual figure on jewelry sales while quietly also doing some major recalculating on figures from past years.

A couple weeks later, Edahn did a full-scale analysis of the figures and the reasons for the U.S. government’s sharp revisions, noting that the size of the jewelry industry in the United States is smaller than many believe, and that jewelry sales growth has slowed considerably in the last two decades.

Why? Edahn shared a handful of thoughts on what’s led to the slowdown, a list that includes staid design, a lack of marketing and a slowdown in demand for diamonds.

4. JCK’s Rob Bates on the changing U.S. jewelry market
As usual, Rob contributed a lot of thoughtful, on-point content to the industry over the past 365 days.

Among my favorites from his “Cutting Remarks” blog was this October post pontificating on what the quarterly figures published by the Jewelers Board of Trade are, and aren’t, telling us about the industry.

Yes, brick-and-mortar retailers are closing but Rob points out in his blog that there are also smaller companies run by young, up-and-coming designers who sell via Etsy and Instagram or out of their own studios—in other words, in non-traditional retail environments—that simply aren’t on the JBT’s radar.

They pay for everything via credit card and don’t see the need for a JBT listing; they are doing things their own way and don’t want to be part of the “old stream,” as one of the sources Rob quoted in his blog put it.

5. The Adventurine’s Marion Fasel on suffragette style
There’s a lot to love about former InStyle jewelry editor and author Marion Fasel’s venture, TheAdventurine.com: her jewelry movie reviews, those perfectly lit Insta snaps on @theadventurine, the chance of attending events where Marion will come and bring dog Hunter with her.

It was difficult to narrow it down to one article to highlight from the site, but I managed.

Around the time of the mid-term elections in November, Marion wrote a story detailing the controversy surrounding a gold wreath diadem (don’t call it a crown!) presented to Vira Boarman Whitehouse, one of the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in New York state.

It was a brilliant way to incorporate politics, which was the topic du jour at the time the article ran, into The Adventurine’s content, and Marion employed one of my favorite expressions in her story: sour grapes, a term that should be familiar to many in this industry.

Heading into 2019 is also the perfect time to call attention to the 19th amendment, with women’s suffrage in the United States coming up on two significant anniversaries.

June 4, 2019 will mark 100 years since Congress passed the 19th amendment, and Aug. 18, 2020 will mark 100 years since its ratification. (In case anyone was wondering, Tennessee was the state that cast the deciding vote in the push for women’s suffrage.)

2018 Sherry Smith Sherry Smith, the director of business development at Edge Retail Academy, authored this author’s favorite column on National Jeweler in 2018, “Don’t Say ‘No’ to Your Customers.”

6. Sherry Smith on how not to say “no”
Much like Cher, I am turning back time for this last one, virtually flipping through the entire catalog of National Jeweler columns from 2018 to pick my favorite.

And the award goes to … a guest columnist.

Sherry Smith, the director of business development at Edge Retail Academy, took over husband Peter Smith’s “Spotting Squirrels” column in December and penned an excellent and well-received article on what to say to customers when they ask for a brand your store doesn’t carry, a service you don’t provide, etc.

Runners-up for best column include her other half’s anti-memo article, which touched off necessary debate on one of the industry’s most disputed practices, and Lilian Raji’s February column in which she drew up on her excellent Egypt travel guide experience to answer a jewelry designer’s question about emphasizing artistry.

I also enjoyed Peter Smith’s November article on sales tips for the holiday season, which contained advice all of us could stand to carry into 2019.

Smile, he wrote, and stay away from chronically negative people.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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