He is certainly very different from past keynoters, but, more importantly, he represents two directions where this trade needs to go. It needs to become more in tune with the fashion world, and it needs to be more socially conscious. He’s also a very successful entrepreneur, with a growing jewelry company, who got a bit of flak for talking about the industry’s benefits to Africa during the “Blood Diamond” controversy. Having seen him speak (and interviewed him), I can tell you he is an engaging, charismatic figure, with a lot to say, who generally says it well.
The question we have here is, of course, will the trade show up? Is he a draw outside of big cities (like the one I live in)? I’m not sure, but I’ll certainly be there, and many people from the magazine will also, and we are not known as early risers.
By the way, the format of the keynote is Simmons will speak, and then be “interviewed” by Martin Rapaport. The Rapaport-Simmmons match-up should itself be worth the price of admission (which is of course, free). There are quite a few similarities in these two passionate, very smart, determined, hyper personalities. Let’s just say there will be a lot of energy on that stage.
Here is information about Simmons’ Diamond Empowerment Fund, his new industry charity that he will surely discuss. I visited the school they are funding while I was in Africa, and it is a worthwhile endeavor. And, by the way, is Vegas really a little over two months away?