Wow … what a difference. After two AGS Conclaves in a row that were scaled down and sometimes downbeat, at this year’s get-together in San Francisco I am seeing a much-improved mood and attendance. Parties are packed, last night’s JIC-produced fashion show was a huge hit, and retailers are once again talking about moving their business ahead, not just surviving. It’s a huge turnaround from just one year ago.
Now, granted, not all the retailers and wholesalers I’ve spoken believe they have completely recovered. The diamond wholesalers in particular seemed nervous about what is happening to the U.S. market, given the rise in diamond prices and big diamond suppliers turning their attention overseas. (“The U.S. is now a secondary market,” one told me. Scary words.) Jewelers also ran the gamut but generally feel the worst is over. Yet even one who said he was having a record month punctuated it with the now-obligatory knock on wood. And of course, many AGS jewelers have had to do things they never thought they would, like carry beads, buy gold from the public, or stock stones with EGL reports.
Some small news bits from the show:
– The first retailer that will carry the Forevermark is R.F. Moeller Jewelers in Minneapolis, according to the Moeller people.
– Marcee Feinberg has been promoted to vice president of Lazare Kaplan. Congrats to her.
– Here is an interesting fact: At last year’s Conclave, I was the only person from a trade publication to attend. This year, I am pleased to say, there are at least six of us.
– And finally, on a self-promotional note, readers should know that I will be speaking at 3:30 p.m today on “Hot Topics in the Jewelry Industry.” Hope to see some of you there.