150 Years, 150 Voices: Reflections on JCK, Part 5

JCK would be nowhere without the industry insiders who have helped the magazine along the way—by making the news, reading it in our pages, or both. So we asked 150 of them to join the dialogue about how the jewelry business has changed over the decades and the role we have played in that evolution. Here are the fifth 25.

•••

Michael Thompson“My fateful day came in 1988, when George Holmes hired me to become JCK’s new New York editor, working on the corner of 53rd and Seventh alongside the great Cindy Edelstein as well as Bill Furman, Lee Lawrence, Charles Bond, and the JCK sales staff. I learned almost everything I needed to know about the industry from George and Debbie Holmes, Bill Shuster, Russell Shor, Hedda Schupak, Bob Weldon, and of course Peggy Jo Donahue. JCK was a fast-paced workplace that valued in-depth questioning and reportage. The (nonmobile) phones were almost always ringing or in use, and George always had more than a few multipart investigative-style features cooking. Many of these stories—planned months in advance and scrupulously reported—won awards, and I was proud to be part of a few of them.”
Michael Thompson, editor-in-chief, International Watch

•••

Wendy Brandes elephant ring
Pink Elephant & Tipsy Writer Maneater ring with 262 pink sapphires, 174 brown diamonds, 3 white diamonds, and 1 ruby in 18k rose, yellow, and white gold, Wendy Brandes

JCK writers and editors were among my earliest supporters, even though I was so different from many of the brands they typically covered. When they saw potential in me, I saw more of it in myself.”
Wendy Brandes, owner and ­president, Wendy Brandes Fine Jewelry

•••

Katerina Perez“With the rise of social media, it is much easier to reach potential clients across the globe and to advertise to a specific audience. This also means you have to find a way to spark their interest within a few seconds as their attention spans have shrunk. Social media has also encouraged industry specialists like gem dealers to reach out to the end consumer, which can occasionally lead to jewelers losing business. Nowadays, it’s all about the customer experience. Where once Champagne and canapés, along with a small discount, was sufficient to make a good sale, now it’s more about what brands can offer their customers by way of entertainment.”
Katerina Perez, founder and ­editor-in-chief, KaterinaPerez.com

•••

Debbie Yonick“I used to freelance for dozens of slick, thick international jewelry magazines, chock-full of glorious editorial. Most of them are gone now. Kudos to JCK for ­surviving the purge and adapting.”
Deborah Yonick, veteran jewelry writer

•••

Terry Chandler“The most important change came when De Beers ended the generic advertising of diamonds that drove the market for decades. Those amazing commercials that talked of the romance and mystery of diamonds are gone, leaving succeeding generations without the lore and understanding of the value of diamonds. We all count on JCK to give us the facts, regardless of how unpleasant or controversial they may be at times.”
Terry Chandler, president and CEO, Diamond Council of America

•••

Joanne Teichman“I immediately became aware of JCK magazine when we opened in 1985 because there was so much I wanted to know about retailing and jewelry, and it was the source. I love JCK’s editors and writers and feel honored when I’m asked to ­comment on anything having to do with the industry. JCK has remained ­dedicated to being the authority on the jewelry industry and at the same time has evolved to offer content online, which makes delivering the news constant.”
Joanne Teichman, owner and managing director, Ylang 23

•••

Suzanne Miglucci“I’m a novice to the jewelry industry: My background is in e-commerce technology and brand strategy. So you can imagine what a learning curve I faced when I took the helm at Charles & Colvard in late 2015. But thankfully I had JCK to lean on. I voraciously consumed every edition and every newsletter to learn about this amazing, complicated, brilliant industry.”
Suzanne Miglucci, president and CEO, Charles & Colvard

•••

Anna Martin“Electronics and ­experiences are competing with jewelry and luxury goods for consumer dollars, and people want to know that what they buy helps communities and the world. We must tell the story of the good that gems and jewelry—and our industry—are doing.”
Anna Martin, senior vice president of ­global business development and ­beneficiation, GIA

•••

Black Starr Frost brooch
Rare Victorian emerald and diamond brooch circa 1880, Black, Starr & Frost

Alfredo MolinaJCK is one of the most respected magazines in the industry. Black, Starr & Frost was honored to be mentioned in the magazine several times, somewhere between 100 and 150 years ago. [This anniversary] is a celebration of a magazine that has provided mentorship to all of us.”
Alfredo J. Molina, chairman and CEO, Molina Fine Jewelers and Black, Starr & Frost

•••

Craig Selimotic DanforthJCK was my primer, a tutor in my introduction to this fascinating industry. At every step in my career, JCK has been there to provide insight. And it is still a valued resource for my continued learning—having a go-to publication with an insider’s view is enormously valuable.”
Craig Selimotic ­Danforth, vice president of client solutions, Jewelers ­Mutual Insurance Group

•••

Benjamin Chavis“On an ­industry-related tour of ­southern Africa in 2006, Nelson Mandela personally encouraged Russell Simmons and me to establish an international nonprofit organization that would focus on the ‘Diamonds Do Good’ reality and narrative in Africa and throughout the world. So we, along with other industry leaders, founded the Diamond Empowerment Fund. Global consumers are much more socially conscious today than they were a decade ago. The future of the industry…is directly related to empowering diamond and jewelry communities. The ‘Diamonds Do Good’ message will be even more vital in the years ahead.”
Benjamin Chavis, cofounder, ­Diamond Empowerment Fund

•••

Katherine Bodoh“I am proud that I work in an industry that has a publication as informative and beautiful as JCK. I am thrilled when I read about our members’ successes or see their products or stores featured within the vibrant and glossy pages. Early in my career, when I was included in an article, I would save a copy to show my parents because it was a milestone, and it gave me a huge sense of pride.”
Katherine Bodoh, CEO, American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories

•••

Stephanie GottleibJCK does an amazing job of featuring deserving ­up-and-coming designers and new industry concepts while creating a community where designers, ­retailers, and aficionados can come together.”
Stephanie Gottlieb, founder and designer, Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry

•••

Barbara PalumboJCK has meant different things to me over the years because I’ve worked in so many different roles in this industry. When I was a sales rep lugging $2 million in jewelry across the country, I’d seek out articles about crime or heists. When I was a buyer for a retail store, I’d read trend pieces. When I was an executive with an internet company, I’d look for ­tech-related articles. That’s the beauty of the magazine: No matter what a person does, there is something to read.”
Barbara Palumbo, founder and editor, WhatsOnHerWrist and Adornmentality

•••

“The evolution of marketing and the significant role it now plays in the industry at large has been one of the most dramatic changes in the industry. For many years, print was the dominant media, with broadcast being used only by some firms. The proliferation of alternative media and communication vehicles in today’s market represents a true sea change.”
Michael C. Barlerin, director, Silver Promotion Service

•••

“I have now been in this industry for over 33 years. So much has changed that sometimes the only way I recognize what we do is by looking at the actual gems; they change the least. Despite the challenges, I find it exciting and the process of adapting to new normals rewarding.”
Andrea Hansen, founder, Luxe Intelligence

•••

Kathy Grenier“My entire career in this industry spans 38 years. For those of us who have been here a long time, we’ve seen many evolutions—no ­different than life itself. What has been constant is that we’re in the business of people and celebrations.”
Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development, Imperial Pearl

•••

Richard Hughes“As an author, ­gemologist, researcher, and historian, the internet provides me with tools that I could only dream of when I began my career 40 years ago. At the same time, it has become a tool that has ­produced dumbed-down publications and news to consumers that, in some ways, seem more poorly ­educated than decades ago. We have moved from books—which could be read a thousand years or more after publication—to news served up via ­short-attention-span machines like Facebook. I am confident publishing will survive. But we are in a transition period, and the current model will have to change as it does not serve well the end user.”
Richard Hughes, cofounder, Lotus Gemology

•••

Jeffrey Cohen“The jewelry industry has seen remarkable changes in the past 30-plus years since I started working. Then, the landscape was filled with family-owned jewelry stores on Main Street that were open five, maybe six days a week. Shopping mall expansion added more doors to our mix as our department store partners and national and ­regional chains jumped full force into malls across the country. In the independent retail channel, many of the younger generations abandoned their family businesses for other career paths, and doors started to close. We are all now adjusting to the new normal. The more nimble and stronger ­independent retailers have adapted to the changes by offering the one thing their customers can’t get online: superior ­product knowledge and impeccable, personal customer service.”
Jeffrey Cohen, president, Citizen Watch America

•••

Diana Warga Arias“My first exposure to JCK was as a graduate student working ­part-time at a jewelry store. When the new issue arrived, I remember being curious as to why everyone wrestled for their turn to grab hold and flip the pages. I quickly discovered that JCK was ‘the word’ on emerging designers, events, business opportunities, and new jewelry collections.”
Diane Warga-Arias, president, DWA Communications

•••

Roger Dery“The first time I read JCK was in 1981: I was reading old issues at the library to familiarize myself with the industry. Even then I saw how they tailored their stories to the needs and interests of the jewelry ­industry. JCK’s ­stories encourage us to stick by the traits that have kept this industry alive over the past centuries—credibility, ­honesty, and passion—and allow us to dream about how we can evolve and transform to adapt to the changing society around us.”
Roger Dery, president, Roger Dery Gem Design; executive director, Gem Legacy 

•••

Benjamin Guttery“From the editorial to the ads for GIA education, JCK helped me dream beyond the counter of a retail store. I always looked at each issue as a capsule in time—a lookbook of what was hot that month. I have a ­massive archive of issues dating back a decade, through size changes and various colors of the binding. JCK is the only ­magazine I hoard. I remember when [JCK ­editor-in-chief] ­Victoria Gomelsky did a story on me and others making a ­community on Instagram around five years ago—it was my ‘Look, Ma, I’ve made it’ moment.”
Benjamin Guttery, founder and curator, Third Coast Gems

•••

Fran Pennella“My first impression of the magazine was the people—the editors in particular. Back in my show days as the director of marketing for JCK Las Vegas and JCK Orlando, I organized the press room where the editors—Hedda Schupak, Bill Shuster, Peggy Jo Donahue at that time—would use the provided computers (this was far before we were carrying personal laptops!) to cover what was being debuted and uncovered at the show. I remember their incredible passion and dedication. Fast-forward 20 years: Some things have changed—including the people and technology—but that same energy and passion continues.”
Fran Pennella, founder and owner, Benali Consulting

•••

Andrea Hill“I remember collecting back issues of JCK from the offices and ­bookshelves of my new colleagues and combing through them to develop a perception of the industry I had joined. I remember thinking how cool it was that we had an industry resource that was glossy, beautifully photographed, and looked in so many ways like a consumer magazine. Over the years, as JCK published more content online, it has become a more important part of my life as a daily—often multiple times daily—resource. I can type jckonline.com so fast!”
Andrea Hill, president and CEO, Hill Management Group

•••

Effy Hematian earrings
Effy Hematian 18K White Gold Diamond Earrings, $34,997, Effy Jewelry

“Like any industry, you have to adapt to the times, or you will be left behind. Through the years, I’ve seen JCK adapt to the challenges that have faced magazine publishers as a whole and persevere. Looking to the past while staying in the present is crucial to a brand’s survival.”
Benny Hematian, president, Effy Jewelry