The fine jewelry industry is in the midst of a major evolution. With annual sales estimated at $41 billion in the U.S., an industry that is still dominated by mom-and-pop jewelry shops and small manufacturers is struggling to bring itself into the modern era. New rules on diamonds, an influx of new designers and increased fine jewelry sales at low-price chains such as Sam’s Club and J.C. Penney are just some of the many factors with which the industry is grappling.

In recent interviews with retailers and suppliers throughout the jewelry industry, it’s clear that business is more challenging than ever as 2003 gets going. While jewelry saw flush times throughout much of the Nineties, the tide has shifted. The 2002 holiday season was one of the most grueling in recent memory, with many stores taking heavy markdowns before the season even got well under way.

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