It’s been quite a month since 24 Karat weekend, with a trip to India, a few days with jewelry friends in Park City, Utah, and a whirl through Arizona, from the Centurion show in Scottsdale to the American Gem Trade Association GemFair in Tucson.
It had been five years since I visited Mumbai (blame the recession!), and I was blown away by the changes. From my window in the new Shangri-La Hotel, I could see the fast-transforming neighborhoods of Worli and Parel and the Sea Link elevated freeway bridge connecting them to Bandra, home to the new Bharat Diamond Bourse.
The diamond dealers there were more bullish about business in the United States than I’ve heard for years. They’re also thrilled with their new offices and are excited for more Americans to visit. A highlight was our lunch in the beautiful glass pavilion atop the office building of the Gitanjali Group. Our host, chairman Mehul Choksi, was gracious, charming, and very informative—and the food was terrific!
The next day, I ventured to Surat, one of the world’s great diamond-cutting and polishing centers. At the Surat station, I was transported to another world, full of amazing sights, sounds, and colors. I toured two factories: Shree Ramkrishna Exports and Venus Jewel. It was awesome to see that despite all the technology used in assessing diamond cuts and maximizing the rough, each facet of each stone is polished by hand.
Ronnie Schreiber, Myriam Gumuchian, Yancy Weinrich, Lisa Cochin, Warren Hentze, and I hit the slopes.
A special thanks to SRK chairman Govind Dholakia, who introduced me to the next generation of his family and treated me to an amazing Jain vegetarian lunch in the factory cafeteria. He and his family clarified the history of Surat in the diamond industry, the role of Mumbai as a bourse, and their desire to one day see direct international flights from Surat to the diamond-trading capitals of Antwerp, Tel Aviv, and Dubai.
The true highlight of my trip, however, was my “family day” with our terrific representative, Kaushal Shah, and her husband, son, and daughter. Together, we ventured to the Kanheri Caves in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a series of ancient Buddhist temples carved out of a massive stone mount.
Next up was the Centurion show in Scottsdale. JCK Events group vice president Yancy Weinrich and I organized a few days of skiing in Park City before the gem shows. Our friends and colleagues Myriam Gumuchian and Lisa Cochin (and their better halves, Ronnie and Warren) joined us for great food, great skiing, and great fun. One night, we were hosted for cocktails at the spectacular home of Pam and Alan Kantrowitz, lifelong family friends of Ronnie’s. As their photos with presidents attest, Alan and Pam are as giving and charitable as they are successful. Very inspirational!
After a very high-energy Centurion, it was off to Tucson for an equally high-energy AGTA, our annual party with the Cultured Pearl Association of America, and our yearly offsite sales meeting. It was another reminder of how lucky I am to be a part of this team, this brand, and this industry. I’m looking forward to an amazing 2013!