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IGC Brand Services Tags Diamonds, Jewelry

The HF RFID system enables the wholesaler to track when products arrive, where they are as they are processed, and when they are stored, shipped or returned, via a combination of handheld and desktop readers.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 03, 2015

With the help of radio frequency identification technology to manage the movements of its diamonds and jewelry throughout its own offices, as well as to third-party service providers and stores, jewelry and diamond wholesaler IGC Brand Services has been able to increase the volume of products it sells, as well as reduce the amount of inventory required onsite. At any given time, the Chicago-based company tracks more than 10,000 diamonds and other pieces of jewelry, valued at approximately $5 million, as those products are moved through its offices and workshop, to outside vendors for custom production work, to retailers or consignment shops in the United States and Canada, and sometimes back to its own facility. The RFID solution consists of Gem Accountant software provided by Custom Systems Inc., as well as RFID readers and tags supplied by TJS.

IGC Brand Services makes branded jewelry and cuts loose diamonds. With recent changes in the diamond business—most significantly, the use of the Internet by consumers to peruse, learn about and select the best diamonds for their needs—selling diamonds is not as profitable for smaller-sized jewelry retailers as it used to be, the company reports. There is also a greater need to ship products very quickly as they are ordered, since consumers expect fast service.

IGC uses a TJS Desktop Scanner reader to identify a piece of jewelry.
Due to the changes in the market, IGC has expanded its business in recent years beyond selling loose diamonds on a wholesale basis. Jewelry has now become the company's primary business, and with the growing volume of jewelry comes greater concern regarding the tracking of inventory through the multiple locations within its own Chicago office.

Traditionally, jewelry wholesalers use paper ledgers or bar codes to manually track when products are received, processed or sold. At IGC, merchandise could be located within a storage vault, or in a box at each employee's station where jewelry is processed, or be sent out to another jewelry vendor at a different site. In addition, products are sometimes returned by retailers that are IGC customers. In such a situation, each item must be carefully checked to ensure that it is the same diamond or jewelry piece that was sold in the first place. The company ships out as many as 500 orders every month.

The company installed an RFID-based system about two years ago. Prior to that installation, periodic inventory searches required multiple employees many days to go through all items, says Bill Casey, IGC Brands Services' inventory manager. Casey came onboard after the RFID technology was installed, in order to help manage the greater volume of data and functionality that the company achieved thanks to this automation.

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