Earlier this month, the brand-new HardRock Summit, a dual-format trade show geared to gem, jewelry, and mineral lovers, premiered in Denver. Made up of two distinct events—Evolution, a showcase for rarefied minerals, at the Colorado Convention Center, and Sparkle & Joy, an exhibition of gems and jewels at the nearby Sheraton Downtown Denver—the doubleheader marked not only the debut of a new fall event on the gem and jewelry calendar, but it also featured a new hybrid approach to selling: The summit was open to both trade and consumer buyers.
“The future is B to B to C,” said Christoph Keilmann, who cofounded the event along with Wolter Mehring, the organizer of the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show in Tucson. “We’re bringing worlds together.”
He can say that again. Beyond offering dealers an opportunity to speak directly to end customers, the event was intended to help bridge the gem and mineral communities, which, despite their superficial similarities, have rarely shared the same platform.
As the organizer of the Munich Show and Gemworld Munich—the largest trade fair in Europe for minerals, gemstones, and jewelry—Keilmann is familiar with dealers in both camps and saw an opportunity to unite them in Denver, pandemic be damned.
“My professor in school told me, ‘You need always to invest in crisis and not after crisis,’” Keilmann recalled. “That’s why we decided to go forward with this project now.”
About 100 exhibitors took part in the summit (less than half the number that organizers expected before COVID-related restrictions put the kibosh on most international travel). They included high-end jewelers such as Naples, Fla.-based Gems of Note, which showed a 31 ct. Colombian emerald ring in a Platonic shade of green notable for both its size and lack of treatment, as well as exceptional colored diamonds, such as a 1.27 ct. fancy intense pink Argyle diamond in a floral ring setting.
Many exhibitors said they were eager to explore the show’s direct-to-consumer possibilities.
“I did Tucson in the past because I’m very gem heavy, and this felt like a continuation of the Tucson experience,” said Eve Streicker, founder of Original Eve Designs in Washington, D.C. “It’s nice to have this hybrid DTC/wholesale component.”
Alexander Laut, a high-end jeweler who sells his color-intense designs (many featuring juicy paraiba tourmalines) at retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Betteridge Jewelers, said he, too, was keen to meet consumers.
Even Todd Reed, the Boulder, Colo.–based designer, took a booth at Sparkle & Joy to showcase some new work featuring baguette-cut sapphires and emerald slices in yellow gold settings.
“I swore off trade shows, but this is in my backyard,” Reed said. “I’m not really doing wholesale, but this event is much smaller and more relevant to how I want to run my business.”
Keilmann said he and Mehring chose Denver as the location of their new summit because of the city’s historic ties to the gem and mineral trade. (In a show of that history, the event featured a reunion of three of the world’s best rhodochrosite crystals named for the Colorado town where they were mined: the Alma King, the Alma Queen, and the Alma Rose.) And Keilmann and Mehring are already well into planning the 2022 HardRock Summit, which will take place entirely within the confines of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, shortly after Labor Day.
“We only have two hubs for the market: Tucson and JCK Las Vegas,” Keilmann said. “We deeply need a fall venue.”
Top: 31 ct. Colombian emerald ring, price on request; Gems of Note (photo by PhotographyG.com)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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