Spring was a bit kinder to Zale (NYSE:ZLC), as the jewelry conglomerate was able to improve upon some disappointing recent quarters with a 3.5% same-store sales increase in the third quarter. Year-over-year comparisons were positive for the entire menagerie of the company's brands -- and the core Zales Jewelers business improved, as well.

With better in-store sales, the company as a whole managed to post a nearly 7% increase in revenue for the quarter. What's more, improvements in direct sourcing and expense control led to a slight improvement in operating margin. As a result, Zale managed to post a 27% increase in net income.

Though not wholly included in this quarter's results, management reported that business related to Mother's Day was strong and that the bridal business "did very well." Looking at average transactions on a brand-by-brand basis, there weren't any unexpected pockets of weakness, and business as a whole seems quite stable.

Looking at fellow jewelry merchants such as Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) and Rule Breakers recommendation Blue Nile (NASDAQ:NILE), it's pretty clear that there was a spring bling fling. Given the ongoing success of other luxury purveyors such as Coach (NYSE:COH) and high-end retailers such as Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), it's equally clear that shoppers are still willing to pamper themselves with non-necessities.

While that's good for Zale in general, I'm not sure the stock is the play to make. Both Blue Nile and Tiffany are rivals that have a clear and distinctly different approach. Tiffany wants the highest of the high end and Blue Nile wants the mid-market sector to buy jewelry from its online store.

Zale, though, seems to be trying to be all things to all people -- serving higher-end customers with the Bailey Banks & Biddle chain, mid-market customers with Zales, and lower-end customers with Piercing Pagoda, while also selling jewelry online. Sometimes that sort of horizontal integration works out, but more often than not it's the specialists who best serve their customers and win the day.

On the plus side, Zale has a share-buyback program in place, a good return on equity, and same-store sales trends seem to be moving in the right direction. In addition, though the stock isn't a screaming bargain relative to likely future growth, a P/E of 14 certainly isn't out of line. Should the economy stay as it is or improve, Zale should be able to sling more bling and perhaps add a bit of zing to shares, as well.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).