The Jewelry District, Episode 81: Conversations In Park City, De Beers Leadership, New Patek Philippe


You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and news director Rob Bates talk about Conversations in Park City, a new De Beers CEO, and a new spin on a classic Patek Philippe watch. Victoria recaps her time in Park City, Utah, where she contemplated the present and future of retail with experts curated by PSFK. Rob reports on the change in leadership at De Beers, where Bruce Cleaver has stepped down and become cochairman, and Al Cook will step into his shoes as CEO. Victoria covers the latest iteration of the popular Nautilus and what it means for the direction of the Patek Philippe brand.

Listen Now

Show Notes
01:00 Victoria interviewed the president of Bulgari, who was in the Maldives
04:30 A recap of Conversations in Park City
09:00 A change in leadership at De Beers
19:55 New Patek Philippe watch

Episode Credits
Hosts: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Producer and engineer: Natalie Chomet
Plugs: @jckmagazine, JCK’s e-newsletter

Show Recap

Hospitality Meets Jewelry
Victoria got up early to speak to the CEO of Bulgari, Jean-Christophe Babin, who was in the Maldives at the time. They talk about the Bulgari hotel and how expensive it is—€2,500 per night! Rob wonders what guests might get in addition to the room for that price. There are other examples of brands that cross over from fashion to hospitality—Armani, Shinola, etc. The hope is that you can capture an audience in one area and then hook them in another.

Conversations With Friends—in Park City
Victoria recently traveled to Park City, Utah, to Conversations in Park City, the leadership summit hosted by Jewelers Mutual. The brainchild of Mark Smelzer, head of content for Jewelers Mutual (and JCK’s former publisher), the conference brought the crème de la crème of the industry together for a leadership retreat.

But the main focus was the content. Mark pulled in leading thinkers on retail strategy and futurism from media company PSFK. Experts talked about the omnichannel experience and “phygital” retail.

It was a beautiful setting for some great conversations. Overall, the event was brief and meaningful. She hopes there will be another one next year.

A Change in Leadership for De Beers
Rob reports that Bruce Cleaver is stepping down as CEO of De Beers and handing over the reins to Al Cook—an industry outsider who worked for an energy company. His predecessor, Philippe Mellier, was also an outsider. Mellier got great results for the company’s bottom line but injured some relationships with clients who felt he drove prices too high. Cleaver repaired those relationships and is well respected. Though it’s not clear why he is leaving his position, Cleaver will still be involved as cochairman. It’s a job where you’re never bored because there are so many aspects to it.

Victoria wonders about the selection process. Some people have pointed out that De Beers is an African company that caters to women, yet all of its CEOs have been white men. People have commented that Al Cook doesn’t have the background in marketing, branding, etc. An outsider will have to be tutored in the varied aspects of the business. It’s also of note that Cleaver is leaving without a contract with Botswana.

The Lab-Grown Diamond Trajectory
It’s been four years since Lightbox came out. Many still don’t accept lab-grown diamonds as a viable category, though Swarovski is rolling out lab-grown diamonds in North America, and Breitling just announced it will switch to lab-grown diamonds and fully traceable gold. This is more transparent than Victoria has seen a Swiss brand be. It’s clear that lab-grown diamonds will be part of the conversation going forward.

New Patek Philippe Watch
Speaking of watches, Victoria wrote a New York Times piece about Patek Philippe’s long-awaited successor to the 5711. Called the 5811, its main difference is that it’s made of white gold instead of steel. Victoria is confident it will be popular.

Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine

By: Natalie Chomet

Log Out

Are you sure you want to log out?

CancelLog out