JCK’s 150th: JA’s Dave Bonaparte on His Personal History With JCK

JCK magazine is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year! To commemorate that milestone, we’re talking to 150 veteran jewelry professionals in 2019 for a feature series meant to distill the voices of some of the industry’s most enduring and successful professionals.

We can’t print every interview in its entirety in the magazine—so we’ve been posting full interviews here on JCKonline.com every Thursday.

This week we hear from Dave Bonaparte, president and CEO of Jewelers of America.

JCKHow long have you been in the jewelry industry, and how has it changed since you joined?

Dave Bonaparte: I got involved in the jewelry industry in 1997 when the company I was working for, Reed Exhibitions, bought the JCK shows and magazine. Shortly after the dust settled, I was given the responsibility to run the JCK show portfolio. Even though the show and magazine were on very sound footing, shortly after the acquisition, the entire executive team running the portfolio abandoned ship to launch a competing show and magazine!

Needless to say, we had to mobilize quickly to stabilize the portfolio and develop key relationships and trust from our customers. This was my responsibility, and I found that we had a lot of clients who were very interested in keeping this very important show healthy. The market has gone through tremendous change since 1997. We had a recession and the dot com bubble [that] put a tremendous strain on the jewelry industry and started a contraction in its number of retail stores. The biggest change I’ve seen since then is the continued contraction of retail stores while the industry sales volume continues to grow. The channel for sales is changing as there continues to be an increase in digital sales.

JCK: What’s your experience with JCK magazine?

My experience with JCK magazine is obviously unique. When Reed bought the portfolio, JCK magazine was run as a separate division from the shows. I always made the point that the show and the magazine should be under the same management. Until the last few years this remained—the show and the magazine, of course, were joined at the hip but were managed separately.

Eventually, the teams and personnel were merged together to create a more cohesive group. I have always had great respect for the magazine as a content leader and as [JCK publisher] Mark Smelzer always says, the book of record in the jewelry industry.

What has JCK magazine meant to you?

Considering it was once my job to manage the publication, I have great memories and stories that go back a few years. You’ll have to ask Frank Dallahan about those stories! The magazine gave me a great opportunity to gain perspective from all facets of the industry and allowed me to build strong, long-lasting relationships that remain today

What was your first impression of JCK magazine, and how has it changed over the years?

My first impression was that the magazine business was completely different that the trade show business. It had the same customers but different content. JCK came with the industry’s best reputation, personnel, editors, and content. I had to work hard not to mess that up! When I went into the archives at GIA and had to wear white gloves to read the first-ever publication from the 1800s, I knew it was a credible magazine!

(Photo courtesy of Jewelers of America)

Catch up on all of JCK‘s 150th interviews:

Ettagale Blauer, former JCK New York editor
Lee Siegelson, rare and collectible jewelry dealer and expert
Tamara and Amir Goldfiner, cofounders of Rahaminov Diamonds
Dallas Prince, founder of Dallas Prince Designs
Esther Fortunoff, president of Fortunoff Fine Jewelry
Terry Burman, former Signet chairman
Brandee Dallow, president and founder of Fine Girl Luxury Brand Building & Communications
Tom Chatham, CEO of Chatham Created Gems & Diamonds
Tom Heyman
, partner, Oscar Heyman & Brothers
Duvall O’Steen, jewelry publicist, Luxury Brand Group
Pat Henneberry, founder and president of the Jewelry Coach
Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing
Hank B. Siegel, president of Hamilton Jewelers
Erica Courtney, jewelry designer
Robert Weldon, director of GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center
Stuart Robertson, vice president of Gemworld
Bill Furman, longtime JCK magazine ad sales manager
Kathryn Kimmel, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GIA
Katie Kinsella Murphy, owner of Kinney + Kinsella
Frank Dallahan, publisher, The Retailer Jeweler
Jen Cullen Williams, managing director of Luxury Brand Group
Sally Morrison, chief marketing officer of Lightbox
Susan M. Jacques, president and CEO of GIA
Marie Helene Morrow, president of Reinhold Jewelers
Jenny Luker, U.S. president of Platinum Guild International
Beth Gerstein, co-CEO of Brilliant Earth
Russell Shor, GIA senior industry analyst
Walter McTeigue, cofounder of McTeigue & McClelland
Caryl Capeci, president of Hearts On Fire
Eddie LeVian, CEO of Le Vian
Peggy Jo Donahue, freelance writer and former JCK editor-in-chief
Rebecca Moskal, jewelry marketing veteran

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