Education was an important feature of JCK Las Vegas, where industry gurus like Martin Rapaport, Cecilia Gardner and Shane Decker shared their insight on everything from diamonds and trends to business ideas.
On Wednesday, the JCK Las Vegas conference program kicked off with 32 conference sessions covering eight tracks including Diamonds, Gemstones & Pearls, Business, JCK Style: Where Fashion Meets Jewelry, Hot Topics and Trends, eBusiness, Jewelers’ Notebook: Practical Advice for Jewelers, and Jewelers of America J-Biz.
“Over 1700 retailers attended the conference sessions that we offered,” said Dave Bonaparte, group vice president of JCK Events. “We heard over and over again from our speakers about the importance for retailers to continually stay on top of new trends and new business concepts in order to stay competitive.”
On Saturday, May 31, Jewelers of America executives hosted a roundtable discussion entitled “Retailer-Supplier Relationships: Changing Expectations”. Panelists Michael Rae, CEO, Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices; Cecilia Gardner, President, CEO and General Counsel, Jewelers Vigilance Committee; John Hall, General Manager, External Relations, Rio Tinto Diamonds; Kathe Mai, Trios’ Studio, Lake Oswego, OR; and John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI discussed how the growing responsible practices movement in the jewelry industry is affecting retailer-supplier relationships. Issues such as conflict diamonds, “dirty gold,” and “blood rubies” have raised public awareness, and what’s at stake is the public’s confidence in the integrity of jewelry store products.
“It is vital that retailers and suppliers set aside specific time in their business plan to think about compliance. Integrity is good for your business and builds confidence from both the supply side and the selling side,” said Cecilia Gardner. “Ensuring security practices within your company can ensure consumer confidence and ultimately improve your bottom line.”
On Monday, Martin Rapaport led a full day conference program focused on the state of the diamond industry. He offered a provacative, insightful and timely speech offering global trends from sourcing to marketing. Martin said, “there has never been as much wealth in the world as there is today, however change is being driven by external forces, including economic conditions, which will have great impact on the jewelry business.” In addition, Rapaport led the 3rd annual Fair Trade Jewelry Conference that promoted industry action that will improve the lives of millions who are among the poorest in the world.
Industry Guru Shane Decker delivered a luncheon Keynote Address “Where Have All the Stores Gone?” He informed retailers of the many reasons jewelry retail storefronts are closing their doors today. He cited the lack of flawless execution of basics as being the main reason customers leave the store empty handed. “One of the biggest lies is ‘I’ll be back’. 90% do not come back and the reason they don’t come back is that the staff isn’t trained to sell,” said Decker. “The demise of many storefronts is that a staff can be too ‘category smart’, knowledgeable in specific categories. In order to be profitable, product knowledge in every category is key.”
During the first day of the conference, Michelle Orman of The Lup led a panel discussion called “The Trendsetters: Fashion Experts Demystify Turning Trends into Transactions.” Panelists included Randi Malofsky of Portero.com; Laura Hughes from Elite Traveler Magazine, Emmy Kasten from The Little Black Dress Events and Bree Cohen, a Las Vegas DJ and owner of weekly fashion event “Sunday in the Valley”. The panelists agreed that retailers need to stay ahead of trends and offer consumers the latest styles. Randi Malofsky suggested, “Logon to People or InStyle Magazine, see what the hot fashions are, and let your customers know that those items are available.”