All That Glitters…

Four fine-jewelry professionals prove they have the mettle for the business

$80 million. “To have [Saks] call after I left to offer me the top spot is confirmation that I was ready but they weren’t ready to make the move with me,” he says. Instead, he accepted an offer from Georg Jensen USA (www.georgjensen.com) as president in January 2006.

It actually took a headhunter to convince Barkley that his early retail background, his business acumen, personality, and career successes were a good fit with the $3 billion luxury jewelry industry. Because the industry is not aggressive in recruiting candidates, Barkley says it’s difficult for African Americans to get a read on what’s expected to succeed.

Barkley, 48, a business administration graduate of the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, insists that navigating the managerial track is guided more by knowledge of the business you operate in and your competition than how to read profit and loss spreadsheets. He points out that most luxury retailers offer a variety of management-based training programs.

“The sector I operate in is passion-driven; the best salespeople are passionate about the business and able to convey that passion to customers. Retaining customer base is the No. 1 priority.” The key pieces to retail management, according to Barkley, are to “understand, embrace, and implement the vision of the brand; attract, retain, and motivate the best talent; select the right locations for retail operations; and market the brand, product, and people.

Akeem Aníshéré Master Jeweler Aníshéré Designs Englewood, NJ: Akeem Aníshéré has performed a variety of jobs to raise capital for his jewelry prototypes, which can then be sold to jewelry stores for manufacturing. “Starting out, you have to be creative and diversified,” he insists. Aníshéré, originally from Lagos, Nigeria, specializes in designing elegant high-end jewelry made with 18k gold, diamonds, sapphires, tanzanite, and rubies. An innovative pairing of rose, green, and white gold with platinum is the hallmark of Aníshéré Designs (www.anisheredesigns.com).

Aníshéré, 44, actually began as a trained sculptor and complemented his expertise with advanced jewelry making and repair and stone setting courses at the Gemological Institute of America. He made his first piece in 1992 at the request of a jeweler.
A master jeweler on staff at a retail outlet earns $40,000 to $65,000 for managing production “from the concept to the rendition to the wax model, casting, assembly, stone setting, and polishing,” he explains.

An independent master jeweler can earn more. “Let’s say you get your line into Neiman Marcus, you earn money for your design and also for manufacturing it,” Aníshéré says. Copyright ownership depends on the retailer’s contract, but terms are negotiable. “When I use my ingenuity to make a clasp easier to open or close, those are technical aspects I make sure to patent.”

For the new entrant, Aníshéré suggests taking a job as a bench jeweler–one who repairs jewelry–to finance your prototypes. Create a portfolio of design drawings to circulate among manufacturers, attend the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America trade show (www.mjsa.org) to stay abreast of evolving techniques, and consider retaining a representative on a commission basis to

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