Alex Fetanat’s Latest Post: Dumb Starbucks?

I’ve seen a lot of things satirizing the popular coffee chain Starbucks.  When they first took the world by storm in the late 1990s, tv shows and movies were quick to make fun of them; in the second Austin Powers film, for instance, Starbucks is the legal front for the nefarious criminal enterprises of the film’s main antagonist, Dr. Evil.  South Park, ever one to satirize pop culture,  has taken more than one jab at the coffee chain over the years.  Countless comedians from around the world haven’t shied away from lampooning Starbucks either; comedian Lewis Black, among others, has a well-known joke where he talks about the establishment.

But the most recent parody of Starbucks occurred in my home of Los Angeles.  A couple of weeks ago, some enterprising humorists opened up a mysterious new coffee shop, called “Dumb Dumb StarbucksStarbucks”.  This Dumb Starbucks looks almost the exact same as any regular Starbucks, except that the word “dumb” is prefixed to the title and all of the menu items and products available there.  Staffed by two baristas, the satirical coffee shop offered free coffee in their opening days, and lines extended through the little shopping center where Dumb Starbucks is located.

According to the baristas, it’s perfectly legal for them to use the Starbucks logo for marketing purposes, since what they’re doing is clear parody.  Nonetheless, Starbucks quickly took notice, and the establishment was shut down for operating without a license.  The man behind the whole prank was comedian Nathan Fielder, who hosts Comedy Central show “Nathan For You”.  According to Nathan Fielding, Dumb Starbucks is an “art gallery”, and art galleries don’t need health permits to operate.  Therefore, while Dumb Starbucks did indeed shut down, it had every legal right to stay open.  Starbucks even claimed that they appreciated the humor of the whole situation.

via Alex Fetanat


Jewelry Legend Dies

Lenny Friedman

Lenny Friedman, seated, alongside his family.

The Los Angeles jewelry industry is currently devastated at the recent death of one of its most well-known and celebrated jewelers.  Graduate gemologist and co-founder of Sarah Leonard Fine Jewelers in Los Angeles died on the 7th of February, just one day shy of his 96th birthday.  Friedman had been an active part of the jewelry industry for 67 years.  Back in 1946, he co-founded Crescent-Westwood Jewelers with his late wife.  In 1998, this store was renamed Sarah Leonard Fine Jewelers.  Originally a small, “mom and pop”-style jewelry store, the company has exploded in popularity and profitability, and is currently the oldest merchant in Los Angeles’ Westwood Village commercial center.

Over the course of his long and fruitful career, Friedman held many different positions in the jewelry industry.  He served as president of the California Jewelers Association and president of the Jewelers 24 Karat Club of Southern California.  He was a member of the American Gem Society, and once was honored with the organization’s Distinguished Service Award, as well as the Jewelers’ Security Alliance and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

In 1994, Friedman was inducted into the National Jeweler Retailer Hall of Fame, and was also a recipient of the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Family-Owned Business Award.  However, Friedman’s presence wasn’t exclusively in the jewelry industry.  He was president of the Westwood Village Merchants Association, as well as the Westwood Village Rotary.

A proud veteran, Friedman served in the US Army from 1942 to 1946, and received commendations from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, in addition to numerous members of Congress, city councilmen and county supervisors.

This past October, Friedman’s wife Sunny died at the age of 91.  He is survived by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Emerald Acquires GLM

Alex Fetanat’s newest blog post:

Emerald Expositions

Emerald Expositions, the new owner of GLM.

This Wednesday, Emerald Expositions, the parent company of National Jeweler, the JA New York shows and Couture, announced that it has finished acquiring George Little Management LLC for $335 million, a deal that was initially announced in December.  The purchase was funded with about $200 million in debt and $140 million equity investment from Onex Partners III, the private equity firm that created Emerald Expositions in June 2013 by buying the trade shows and related publications previously owned by Nielsen.

GLM organizes over 20 annual trade shows, including four of the largest 100 trade shows in the US in Design & Home Lifestyle, Sports & Active Lifestyle, E-commerce, Product Development & Sourcing and Luxury Lifestyle.  In the company’s profile, you can find a few antique jewelry shows, including the New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show.  GLM is headquarterd in White Plains, NY, with additional offices across the country, and currently has 130 employees.

California-based Emerald Expositions is a leading operator of large business-to-business tradeshows in the US, producing more than 65 trade shows and conference events a year, and connects more than 335,000 buyers and sellers across nine diversified end-markets, such as jewelry, sports, general merchandise, hospitality and retail design, photography, sports, building, health care, decorated apparel and military.

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Alex Fetanat’s Latest Post: Piguet’s Court Case

Recently, A watch company has been ordered to pay luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet more than $9 million in damages for selling a watch that was deemed to be a knockoff of Audemars’ “Royal Oak.”

Royal Oak

A Royal Oak watch, which sells for upwards of $15,000 and is frequently subject to knockoffs.

According to court papers, New York District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr. ruled on Monday in favor of  Piguet in a lawsuit against Swiss Watch International Inc. (SWI) and executive Lior Ben-Shmuel. In the suit,  Piguet claimed that the defendants’ recently-released Swiss Legend Trimix watches, which were sold for less than $250, were too similar in design to the Royal Oak, an extremely expensive watch that has been around since the 1970s and sells for more than $15,000.

In his ruling, which followed a four-day bench trial in June, Judge Baer sided with Piguet, noting that the “similarities between these watches remains striking.”

He awarded damages totaling $9.8 million in the case, noting that it is “more likely than not that defendants intentionally used plaintiffs’ marks with the knowledge that these marks were counterfeit,” court papers state.  Nonetheless, SWI claims that it “respectfully disagrees” with the court’s ruling, and plan on appealing the verdict.

Several times, Baer noted that SWI continued to both sell and profit from its Trimix watches, even after they were confronted at the 2011 Baselworld show and received a cease-and-desist letter from Audemars Piguet in May 2012.

In addition to damages, SWI has been permanently enjoined from selling the Swiss Legend Trimix and must recall any inventory from other retailers.

This is not the first time Audemars Piguet has gone to court to protect the Royal Oak.  In October, Piguet settled a trademark infringement suit with Tommy Hilfiger USA Inc. and Movado Group Inc. over Hilfiger’s Eton watch.  In addition, fashion brand Michael Kors took an allegedly infringing watch off the market after Piguet confronted them.

via Alex Fetanat

Lego Watches for a Good Cause

Alex Fetanat’s newest blog post:


Over 75% of households contain Legos.  It is quite possible you have vacuumed up a Lego character, had a Lego tower building contest with a family member or even felt the ridiculous pain after stepping on a Lego brick.

Legos are such a common occurrence in our lives that the brand is recognized across the world.  In 1996, a wonderful idea was comprised to create a watch out of Legos.  Soon the watch took off as a holiday gift and became a staple as such for years to come.

One New York jeweler is taking this staple to the next level.  From now until December 21, if you get a Lego watch at Northeastern Fine Jewelry in Albany, New York, the store will donate another Lego watch to the Boys & Girls Club.

Northeastern Fine Jewelry has acknowledged their love for the Lego watch in a number of ways.  They have stated it is a fun gift that also helps a child tell time from an analog watch.

The watch has many colors and an easy clip buckle that children should have no problem with.  The store is selling them for $25.

Donations from the buy one give one promotion will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany and neighboring Schenectady.  They will be handed out to children in need during the holiday season by a nonprofit organization.

Northeastern Fine Jewelry President Ray Bleser is happy to contribute to the Boys & Girls Clubs.  “During the holiday season, it is important for us all to give back to our communities.” Bleser says.


via Alex Fetanat

Alex Fetanat’s Latest Post: Laurence Graff’s Underground Lair

Graff Diamonds

The diamond brand that has taken the world by storm

Recently, famed jeweler Laurence Graff was interviewed by the New York Times at the Frieze art fair in London, collecting pieces of modern art (his second greatest passion after jewelry).  During the interview, the self-styled “King of Diamonds” shared some anecdotes about his 60 years of experience working with jewelry.  Recently decorated with the Order of the British Empire, over the course of his career, over the years he’s brushed shoulders with such names as Elizabeth Taylor, Madame Marcos and the Brunei royal family.

Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff, the face of jewelry.

But one of Mr. Graff’s more interesting stories is one about his company’s mysterious workshop, hidden deep underground in London’s fashionable and elegant Mayfair district.  Very few people may enter this closely-guarded secret, protected by vault doors and an elaborate security system.  According to the workshop’s manager, Raymond Graff (a brother of Laurence), this is the probably the largest jewelry workshop in Europe.  The workshop is extremely choosy about who they take on; they need to have a passion for jewelry and a willingness to always be learning.  Some of the most high-quality jewelry pieces in the world come from this top-secret underground location.  Down below, in an air-temperature-controlled space, jewelers wear white lab coats.  While much of the work that they do is by hand, there is also high-tech electronic equipment, which scans and works out designs, complementing some more traditional techniques that originated in the Renaissance.

The combination of traditional and modern techniques allows Graff’s jewelry-making business to make meaningful, interesting pieces of jewelry while also being precise.  Graff makes an effort to ensure that the jewelry pieces his workers use are of a flawless quality, and with a traditional, translucent beauty.  This combination has made Graff one of the most well-known names in the jewelry business.

via Alex Fetanat

Alex Fetanat’s Latest Post: A Highly Expensive Golconda Diamond

On December 10 at Christie’s New York, a 52.58 carat D color, internally flawless Golconda diamond is expected to sell for up to $12.5 million.  The diamond comes from the Golconda mines in south central India, where the legendary “Hope Diamond” was also found.  Diamonds from these mines are of a specific type and color, and have the one of the highest degrees of transparency.  In the words of the auction house, this specific octagonal-cut stone features “superior luminance, luster and distinct brilliance”.

Golconda mines

Miners hard at work in the Golconda mines, where this diamond, along with many other famous stones, originated.

This isn’t the first time that Golconda diamonds have reached high auction prices.  Just this April, a 34.65-carat “Princie Diamond” was sold for $39.3 million.  This diamond set new world auction records for the most valuable diamond ever sold in the United States.

It is expected that Christie’s December 10th auction of Magnificent Jewels will total more than $45 million.  The 500-lot sale will also include colored and colorless diamonds, rare gemstones, natural pearls and signed jewels.  Other valuable goods to check out at the auction include a diamond pendant necklace featuring a 22.12-carat pear-shaped diamond, expected to sell for as much as $3.5 million.  Another necklace, made from 18-karat white gold and featuring a 91.38-carat Burmese sapphire, has a pre-sale estimate of $1.2 million.

According to Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie’s Americas and Switzerland, 201 has been a record-breaking year for jewelry auctions around the world.  In addition to the Princie Diamond sold in April, a 14.82-carat diamond affectionally known as “the orange” sold for $35 million in Geneva earlier this month.

via Alex Fetanat