School’s In

Burdened by the bluster of a long winter, jewelers who venture to trade shows in New York, Tucson, Las Vegas and Orlando in January and February will be thinking of the future: the romantic spring season, the colorful year ahead and the intriguing new millennium.

The educational tracks at the JAInternational JewelryShow in NewYorkCity Jan. 25-28, the AGTA GemFair in Tucson Jan. 29-Feb. 3, JA Las Vegas! Feb. 2-4 and the JCK International JewelryShow in Orlando Feb. 16-18 are designed to prepare jewelers for that future. Special pavilions and uniquely structured programs, as well as traditional lectures, will provide new perspectives on important markets, technical innovations and business trends.

JA NEW YORK: INTO THE FUTURE

The JA International Jewelry Show in New York will look far into the futures of marketing, inventory dynamics and management in its business conference. Titled “Out of the (Jewel) Box and Into the Future,” the conference will feature 19 sessions covering a variety of topics with a future slant, encouraging jewelers to use “out of the box thinking.” “Sometimes, people fall into a pattern of using the same formula over and over to solve the problems of their business,” says Eileen Farrell, JA director of communications. “‘Out of the box’ thinking will help jewelers to approach things differently to meet new challenges.”

For marketing-minded attendees, Wendy Liebmann, president of the WSL Strategic Retail, a consulting company in New York, N.Y., will teach jewelers to cater to customers’ changing needs in “Jewelry Retailing on the Brink.” Let the eyes do the talking with strategies for “Visual Merchandising as a Silent Salesperson” with Pam Levine of the consulting firm Levine Design. Other marketing sessions will cover the use of databases, marketing diamond jewelry from a brand perspective, selling to a broader customer base and the creditability of advertising for customers.

The new JA Bench Certification program will be the topic of a roundtable discussion in the Inventory Dynamics track, with Mark Mann, JA’s director of professional certification, and Robert Leaver, senior consultant for Organizational Futures. John Calnon, vice president of jewelry merchandising for QVC Network, will examine home shopping as the wave of jewelry’s future in “Jewels Out of the (TV) Box and Into Your Living Room.”

Two other sessions in the Inventory Dynamics track will discuss how computers can make a business faster and more organized and how jewelers can see computers as friends instead of foes. An all-day computer workshop titled “Into the Future: A Small Store Technology Tour” will provide information on how to choose the best computer hardware and software. The workshop’s $95 fee will include a self-assessment workbook to outline steps for joining the computer world.

A breakfast session with Barbara Rackes, who chairs the National Retail Federation’s Small Store Board of Directors, will be the highlight of the Management track. Titled “Retailer to Retailer… Listen Up!” the session will discuss ways to abandon old formulas and routines for new ways of thinking and futuristic business practices. Other sessions will include a panel discussion on the effects of new technology on sales and a seminar titled “Anyone Can Partner.” A panel of jewelers will look at “Managing Into the Future,” and a hands-on session will teach “How to Become a Change Agent in Your Business.” In conjunction with the JA Bench Certification program again, a panel will look at the competitive advantages of “Bench Professionalism.”

The conference’s keynote speaker is Patrick Lynch, a retail consultant and chairman of Potential, a consulting company in Scottsdale, Ariz. Embracing the conference’s theme, “Out of the Box and Into the Future,” Lynch will address the toughest challenges facing retailers today. This motivational, interactive session will help all attendees begin thinking about ways to survive and succeed in the face of change.

All sessions are fully accredited for anyone participating in JA’s Accredited Jeweler Designation program.

AGTA GEMFAIR: WAKE UP TO COLOR

The American Gem Trade Association’s educational conference at GemFair in Tucson, Ariz., is a colorful addition to this winter’s line-up.

Designed to make visitors’ trips to the show more profitable, the conference features 36 sessions on how to shop for colored gemstones as well as how to display and promote them.

“These types of seminars help retailers, manufacturers and designers to learn more about what color can do for their businesses, then apply that knowledge in practical applications,” says Shannon Woodmansee, director of marketing for AGTA. “When they get out on the exhibit floor, they can see the new designs and colored gemstones and know how to buy them, merchandise them, promote them and sell them.”

A marketing seminar titled “Riding into Town on a Camel” by the owners of Hight & Randall Ltd., Rochester, Minn., will discuss how to do a special promotion from beginning to end. A panel discussion will focus on how to plan a successful designer event. Eve Alfille of Eve Alfille Ltd., Evanston, Ill., will talk about using the customer’s imaginative process in selling jewelry. And a panel of retailers and designers will present a collection of “Tea-Time Thoughts and Trunk Shows” as marketing ideas.

Once the beauty of colored gems is explored, attendees can get to work learning the technical aspects. Sessions will provide background on certain stones, including pearls, opals, the gems of East Africa and the “Big Three” of colored stones (rubies, emeralds and sapphires). A section of courses by the Gemological Institute of America will study everything from gem identification to profitability. The Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America will teach manufacturing techniques in platinum and a course in “bench jewelers’ secrets” covering tools, techniques and technologies.

Other highlights include a session with Cynthia Marcusson of Cynthia Renee Co., Fallbrook, Cal., who will answer the “Top 10 Color Questions” most frequently asked by customers; a study of trends in colored stones in bridal jewelry; and a guide by Richard Drucker of Gemworld International Inc., Northbrook, Ill., to buying at the Tucson show.

Twenty-five of the 36 sessions are free to GemFair attendees. “The seminars will give added value to people who attend the Tucson show,” says Woodmansee.

JA LAS VEGAS!

Lovestruck couples, churches bedecked in spring flowers, newlyweds offering gifts of jewelry to each other and loved ones on the happiest days of their life together. Weddings are one of the cornerstones of a jeweler’s business, and this year they are the focus of one of the tracks at the JA Las Vegas! educational program.

In conjunction with the Bridal Show, a bridal jewelry and gift pavilion that is part of JALas Vegas!, the seminars mark the first time bridal sales have been the focus of an educational program at a jewelry show.

“This is exactly the time of year that jewelers need to focus on their annual bridal buying needs,” says Joan Landis, group director for jewelry shows at Miller Freeman. “Except for Christmas, weddings are the most important buying opportunity they have. And because it’s often a first-time purchase of jewelry, jewelers have the opportunity to make a customer for life.”

Lectures, workshops and interactive sessions will study topics such as how to market bridal jewelry departments, selling diamond engagement rings and selling diamonds using emotion rather than technicalities.

Diane Edwards, jewelry manager of Modern Bride magazine, will tackle some common assumptions in “Understanding Your Bridal Customer Better.” One assumption, that June is the biggest time of the year for weddings, is incorrect, according to Modern Bride research that shows weddings are spread evenly throughout the year. Edwards also will discuss buying habits and demographics to help jewelers grow their jewelry sales year-round.

The rest of the program features seminars on marketing, management and gemological topics.

The changing face of retailing provides several topics for discussion in the management track. Kate Pierson of Elangy Corp., Edison, N.J., will open jewelers’ eyes to customer diversity and how prejudice can hinder sales in “Bias and Your Bottom Line: Training for Customer Diversity.” Pierson will work through several exercises with retailers to draw out subconscious biases and assumptions about which salespeople may not be aware.

Cynthia Cohen-Turk, president of Marketplace 2000, New York,N.Y., will discuss proactive ways to deal with trends and changes as jewelers approach the new millennium in “Retailing in the 21st century: Trends, Demographics and the Economy.”

Other sessions will cover how to use the Internet for managing a business, maximizing staff productivity in family-owned stores and current issues and trends in retailing.

A highlight of the marketing track is a seminar by Cap D’Amato of the Diana division of Frederick Goldman, New York, N.Y. D’Amato will look at increasing sales by selling extra products to existing customers. “A lot of salespeople just ‘clerk’ customers,” says Erin Oates, account supervisor for Communications/Marketing Action Inc., who recruited the speakers for the programs. “This session will teach them how to market and merchandise the store better.”

Other marketing sessions will look at effective advertising, customer loyalty and relationship marketing, turning opportunities into sales and selling more diamonds over 1 carat.

The gemological track will offer presentations on “How to Buy Diamonds,” “How to Detect Fracture-Filled and Synthetic Diamonds” and “Current Issues in the Diamond Industry.”

The sessions are free and open to all attendees of JA Las Vegas! In addition, 40 top high-volume retail jewelers will be invited to attend a “Supersellers” program.

JCK ORLANDO: TOUCH THE FUTURE

Buyers and exhibitors at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Orlando will reach out and “Touch the Future” — literally — during the three-day education program. Modeled after an interactive science museum, the program will give jewelers “hands-on” experience with new technology and will allow them to talk one-on-one or in small groups with experts.

“We want to introduce retail jewelers to their near futures, to give them an idea of what they might see or be affected by in the next five years,” says Charlotte Preston, education consultant for the JCK Shows.

The educational exhibit will be divided into three sections: The Future of Jewelry Retailing, The Future of Gemology and The Future of Jewelry Design and Production.

At the center of Jewelry Retailing will be a window design and dressing exhibit, where professional window designers will be on hand with materials and fixtures to discuss strategies and designs with retailers. Polygon, a jewelry industry Internet network, and GEMVision, specializing in computer-assisted customer design, will demonstrate their services in the Computer Pavilion. New York-based Grid 3 International will show how new lighting technologies influence showcased jewelry and bring samples of carpet and wall colors in shades predicted to be popular in the years to come.

The Future in Jewelry Design and Production section will present new technology and ways of thinking. Jewelers can dig into the precious metal clay exhibit to pick up a half-ounce of clay embedded with silver, then use equipment to mold the clay into jewelry they will fire and take home. Alan Revere of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, San Francisco, Cal., will lecture on design of the future, and Charles Lewton-Brain of the Fontana Center for Jewelry Studies in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, will demonstrate the futuristic technique of metal fold-forming, the “origami” of metalworking.

Jewelers can learn how to overcome the stifled feeling of small spaces by visiting a complete jeweler’s shop set up in the Design and Production pavilion. The small shop — equipped with a jeweler’s bench, counter with ultrasonic polisher, hydrolux and gold recovery tank — will demonstrate how to make efficient use of space.

The Future of Gemology will feature more traditional presentation formats and include personal discussions with experts. The International Colored Gemstone Association will use its World Wide Web site to teach jewelers new ways to train staff. The Gemological Institute of America will present information on synthetics, treatments and inclusions. And Richard Drucker of Gemworld International Inc. will speak on colored gem quality, pricing and availability in the next five years.

Fun will be the focus of one of the nine lectures during the course of the program, given by the vice president of the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States. The lecture will explore the notion of shopping as entertainment.

Except for the nine lectures that require tickets, admittance to the Touch the Future complex is free to all show attendees.