Jewelry sales continue to plummet. Are iPhones and Kindles to blame?
I used to dream of taking over my dad’s jewelry business. I would spend summer vacations in his Los Angeles office taking orders, weighing sparkly loose diamonds no larger than specks of dust, oohing and aahing over cases of bejeweled rings the size of my nose as he prepared for sales trips, and often being reminded that if I wanted to be paid that week, for the last time, food was not allowed to be eaten on the diamond desk. This was back in the ’90s, and while some part of these fond memories can be chalked up to youthful revisionist history, it does seem—even now—like the phone never stopped ringing. There was always one more order to fill, always one more ring to be picked up from the setter to polish and send off to a nervous groom-to-be.
A large part of the charm in ascending to the head of the family business was the glamour. Sure, some people’s parents might have corner offices in high-rise buildings, but spreadsheets never set anyone’s world on fire. But diamonds … everyone loves diamonds. Shah Jewel Inc. wasn’t just in the business of making sales; it was in the business of making memories, one fancy piece of jewelry at a time.
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