Tom Shane's World

From Bangkok to Hong Kong, and back to the U.S.

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This week has really been successful, in Bangkok.  I got everything done that I could in terms of buying the rubies and sapphires.  We are going to be a little short on our supply of lavender colored solitaire sapphire earrings, as there are not enough of those stones on the market.  We are trying desperately hard to find them, but the quality I demand is not there now.  Hopefully we can get this resolved well before Christmas.  The rest of the rubies and sapphires are coming in every day now, and we are well stocked with fantastic goods in the stores.

The City

I was able to satisfy two customer’s private requests, one for a large yellow round sapphire and the other for a large dark green emerald cut sapphire.  They will be in their respective stores next week.  Both are being custom re-cut to meet the specific requirements of these customers.  Finding the right stone, and then having our own stone cutters make it spectacular, is a source of great pride and satisfaction…good for my ego!

I have several Thai employees that actually examine every stone I buy after I have purchased it; and order most to be either slightly re-cut and re-polished, or dramatically recut; so much so that the people I bought them from wouldn’t even recognize that it was their stone.  I love adding value, and improving product by cutting it to gain its maximum brilliance and beauty.  This is a huge competitive advantage that shows up in our stores.

I spent a couple of days at our jewelry design and manufacturing center, and things there are running very smoothly.  We have so much unique product being designed and produced, and they are shipping weekly.  It lets us develop a look of our own, with our brand.  Our workers are very skilled, and truly career jewelers.  They take great pride in our finished product, and it shows by every step of the production process, which I follow very closely.  They actually are pleased when I examine what they are working on, as they love to show me their skills.  It is great teambuilding, as well.

I then left for Hong Kong, where I met 5 of our American employees; and we worked the Hong Kong jewelry show.  I just got back, and they return two days later.  Besides working with major suppliers and cementing personal relations, I walk the show with our buyers…to show them the styles, look and feel, that I want in our stores.  It makes sure we have a solid team and a consistent image.  There were very few American companies this year represented in Hong Kong.  Most of the Hong Kong vendors admitted that their business from North America is down to around 15% to under 25% of their total business.  Three years ago it was between 45% and 80%, depending upon the specific company.  But it shows how much the rest of the world has grown in economic importance, and how soft our own economy is.  This is really sad to witness, because there is so little being manufactured in the USA; and where we do buy product from, the American market is less important each year to those vendors.  Having said that, they are so thrilled to have Shane Co. as a solid company buying from them, and they love to see our business with them increasing each year; especially as their overall American business is going down.

There are hundreds of new styles that our buyers selected, for the Christmas season, as well as merchandise we will be promoting for Valentine’s Day (I won’t spill the beans and describe it now, however).

I am glad to be back in the USA, for at least 4 weeks.  I will get caught up at the home office; but with the connectivity available today, I really don’t find traveling in Asia to be a handicap to my daily phone, emails, SMS messages, etc.  And the quality of life over there makes it so easy.  I love the services that we get in Hong Kong or Thailand.  More about that on the next blog.

Tom Shane is the owner of Shane Co., the largest family-owned retail jeweler in the United States. For four decades Tom has traveled the globe buying gemstones, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls directly from the gem cutters for Shane Co. He is the third of four generations of the Shane family to work in the jewelry business. Tom started learning the jewelry business at his father's side at age 12, assisting his father in his store. Tom opened his own jewelry business in 1971, establishing Shane Co. He was 22 years old at the time. In 1996 Tom was knighted into the order of Leopold II in the Kingdom of Belgium in recognition of his lifelong achievement in the diamond business. Tom currently resides in Colorado, but spends a great deal of his time abroad purchasing gemstones for Shane Co. You might know his voice from the Shane Co. radio ads which are the longest running radio ad campaign in history, or you might have caught him at a party with other Colorado celebrities in an episode of South Park.

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