26 Things to Do at JCK Las Vegas 2016

A list of can’t-miss talks, events, and more—one for each year of JCK Las Vegas

Creating a list of places to go, speeches to hear, and jewels to see at JCK Las Vegas was no small task. After all, we are talking about the country’s largest jewelry show. We could have filled this entire issue. Since we had to rein ourselves in somehow, we chose the occasion of JCK’s 26th year as our self-imposed numeric limit. But if we could add a No. 27, it would be this: Put your feet up and relax for a few minutes each day. You deserve it.

1. Show your true colors.

No trip to JCK is complete without a trip to the AGTA GemFair, located on the Pool Level of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (Take the down escalator near StripSteak.) That’s where you’ll find more than 200 exhibitors displaying piles of pearls, opals from around the globe, award-winning cut gems, and even finished jewelry. “This year, we have seen an increase in demand for our more exotic gemstones like alexandrite, spinel, and fancy colored sapphire,” says Omi Gems vice president Niveet Nagpal. “Designers and retailers alike are telling us that their clients are looking for something different with a unique story to tell.” Bonus: AGTA opens before JCK—Thursday, June 2 (9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.)—so you can spend a full day swimming in colored stones before you tackle the rest of your buying. —Melissa Rose Bernardo


A scene from last year’s dramatic VicenzaOro runway show, showcasing the pavilion’s best Italian-made jewels 

2. Admire the latest fashions.

This year, you can’t swing a strand of pearls without hitting a fashion show: There’s the welcome party and kick-off fashion show on Thursday, June 2 (6–8 p.m.); the now–Sunday evening tradition, the Le Vian Red Carpet Revue (4–6 p.m., Lagoon Ballroom; invitation only); a fashion party courtesy of the Plumb Club in the new Oasis area; and the VicenzaOro catwalk show featuring—what else?—Italian jewelry. Keep an eye on JCK’s Show Daily, distributed at Mandalay Bay June 3–5, for dates/times/locations on those last two! —MRB


Blue is always a bewitching gemstone color. (Supreme Jewelry ring with turquoise, sapphires, and diamonds in 18k rose gold; $10,380)

3. Stock up on trends.

Summer hasn’t even begun, but already, it’s time to think about fall. According to Maia Adams and Juliet Hutton-Squire, the futurists at London-based jewelry trend forecasting agency Adorn Insight, buyers should be on the lookout for traditional gemstone colors (blue, red, and green); updated classics, including heirloom pieces and brand best sellers featuring contemporary flourishes; and convertible jewelry that can be adapted for day-to-night use or transformed into various pieces. “Last but most certainly not least, sustainability should be on everyone’s radar,” Adams says. “Responsibly sourced precious metals and gemstones give brands a fantastic opportunity to market their ethical credentials to the consumer.” For more intel from Adorn Insight, sit in on Adams and Hutton-Squire’s seminar, “Streamline Your Mainline: Optimizing Supply Chain in Order to Boost Profit and Brand Profile,” on Thursday, June 2 (4:15–5 p.m., Tradewinds E/F). —Victoria Gomelsky

4. Kickstart your engine.

We know independent retailers are always on the hunt for emerging artists. That’s why the Design Center is debuting its first-ever Kickstarter program, featuring top talent culled from schools including Savannah College of Art and Design and Pratt Institute. Among the seven designers—Maneli Sarmadi, Sophia Chai, Katherine Dannenberg, Olivia Shih, Vicky Lew, Lizz Roberts, and Lisa Krulasik—you’ll find sculptural forms, artisanal elements, and an intriguing mix of sustainable and even industrial materials (e.g., concrete and steel). —MRB 

5. Get Tanked.

In the grand tradition of the high-def video–equipped ring box Ring Cam and radio-frequency identification inventory system TracTech comes the next round of industry innovators: On Sunday, June 5, at 3 p.m., the six finalists for JCK Think Tank (formerly Shark Tank at JCK) will present their products on the Showcase Stage. Then, the audience will vote for their favorite. Among the prizes for the 2016 Think Tank winner: $500 toward a booth at JCK Las Vegas 2017. —MRB 


This year the Design Center boasts 21 Rising Stars. (Dana Bronfman 18k gold Concave Cutout bangle with 1 ct. t.w. diamonds; $9,175)

6. Go on a Star search.

The Design Center used to feature five Rising Stars each year. Now, as part of the neighborhood’s new three-tiered model—which categorizes the designers as Kickstarter, Rising Star, or Resident—you’ll find 21 Rising Stars, all of whom have been in the biz for fewer than five years. Of course, you might have heard of Spencer Fine Jewelry, but have you gotten a close-up look at designer Melissa Spencer’s striking Portrait pieces? Or Dana Bronfman’s quietly dazzling Diamonds Go Downtown collection? Now’s your chance! —MRB 

7. Showcase all you’ve got.

It’s always tough to tear yourself away from the show floor for seminars, so we’re bringing the speechifying to you. Every day, the Showcase Stage (Bayside, level 1) will feature various panels, interviews, and discussions on topics ranging from wardrobe trends to consumer buying. Here are just a few of the selections. —MRB

Friday, June 3, noon–1 p.m.: costume designer Lyn Paolo (TV’s Scandal and Shameless)

Sunday, June 5, 11 a.m.–noon: JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and Stoned author Aja Raden  

Sunday, June 5, noon–1 p.m.: costume designer Ann Foley (ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)


Get the show floor in the palm of your hand with the JCK Las Vegas mobile app.

8. Go mobile.

We all need maps to get around JCK Las Vegas. (Truth—even those of us who work for JCK!) So before you go, or as soon as you get there, download the JCK mobile app so you can cruise Mandalay Bay Convention Center with confidence. You can find it in the iTunes store or on Google Play. Or go to jckmobile.com/landing via your phone’s Web browser. —MRB 

9. Get a little technical.

Refresh your store’s equipment and supplies in Essentials & Technology (Bayside, level 1): Together, these joint neighborhoods will feature 167 vendors—including 25 brands debuting this year—offering the latest in tools, boxes and displays, high-tech bench equipment, and more. Also new this year: a technology lounge for retailers, a supersize one-stop shop from Stuller, and the Showcase, an experiential show-floor education area that will be dedicated entirely to technology on Sunday, June 5. —Emili Vesilind

10. Run like the wind.

Or walk. Or cycle. It’s up to you! The fourth annual Rings of Strength tour—featuring a 5K run/walk, a 15K bike ride, and a 50K ride—kicks off Thursday, June 2, bright and early at 5:30 a.m. from the Shark Reef entrance at Mandalay Bay. But remember: You’re rising at an obscene hour for charity. To date, Rings of Strength (ringsofstrength.org) has raised more than $160,000 for Jewelers for Children. More of a night owl? On Sunday, June 5, JFC’s annual Facets of Hope dinner at Mandalay Bay honors Signet’s Stuart Lee and Richline Group’s Dennis Ulrich. —MRB

11. Get immediate gratification. 

We know JCK is where you order products for the rest of the year. But sometimes you need to fill a gap quickly—and that’s where JIS Exchange comes in. Running concurrently with JCK (Friday, June 3–Monday, June 6) at the nearby Tropicana, this new event—an extension of the popular thrice-yearly Miami trade show—features more than 100 exhibitors who specialize in at-show delivery. If you’re registered for JCK, you’ll have access to JIS (and vice versa). As for getting to the Trop, fret not: A free express shuttle runs every 15–20 minutes from the parking lot near the Shark Reef Aquarium. —MRB


The always-hopping Omnia at Caesars Palace

12. Bust a move.

We hope you brought your dancing shoes. On Thursday and Friday, June 2 and 3, your JCK badge gets you free admission and expedited entry into Hakkasan Las Vegas nightclub at the MGM Grand, where DVBBS and Rae Sremmurd, respectively, are headlining. The party moves to Omnia at Caesars Palace on June 4, when the Australian sisters behind Nervo are on the decks. Flash your badge between 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. on all three nights and get ready to party like it’s 2099. —VG


A @diamondoodles T-shirt with turquoise, emerald, citrine, fire opal, tourmaline, and more

13. Discover art.

Get an up-close look at the gem-centric creations of Insta-gram faves Hannah Becker and Angie Crabtree on the show floor Friday, June 3, to Sunday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Glitter maven and GIA-trained gemologist Becker will be show-casing her signature Diamondoodles—meticulously arranged gemstone drawings (she’s done everything from pizza to PBR to Carmen Miranda); Berkeley, Calif.–based Crabtree will be demonstrating her diamond-facet oil paintings—large-scale, kaleidoscopic looks deep inside the tiny stones. The artists will also get together for a fireside-style chat, “Picture Perfect: Women Changing the Image of Diamonds” (Friday, June 3, 5:15–6 p.m., Tradewinds A/B). —MRB

14. Take a Train.

Calling all angels! Sail across the sun, make it to the Milky Way, and dance along the light of day when Train pulls in to Mandalay Bay on Sunday, June 5. The seven-member roots-rock band—whose hits include “Meet Virginia,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” and the absurdly catchy “Drops of Jupiter”—headlines our annual JCK Rocks the Beach concert at 9 p.m. It’s free to all JCK attendees; just don’t forget to pick up your tickets (bring your badge!) on Friday and Sunday at the show: Passport (B1184), Now/Next (B21182), Pearl Plaza (B46179), and Plumb Club (PC700). We’ll see you in the sand at the Beach at Mandalay Bay. —MRB


The Bridge boasts 130+ brands, including New York City–based Cristina Sabatini. (Porte Versailles bangle in white resin with blue topaz, iolite, and CZ and black rhodium–plated brass; $450)

15. Build a Bridge.

As we discussed in our May issue, there’s a fine (and increasingly blurry) line between fine and fashion jewelry. At JCK, that line is called The Bridge—a new-for-2016 neighborhood on Bayside, level 1, nestled between Sterling Plaza, the Design Center, and Now/Next. Don’t miss Cristina Sabatini’s bold bangles and big earrings (a must for fall!) and, for your chicest boho customers, beaded wrap bracelets by Chan Luu and pearl-and-leather pieces by Vincent Peach. —MRB

16. Get the scoop on millennials.

The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) has done some major research into how millennials feel about diamonds, and they’re sharing it. On Friday, June 3, at 8 a.m. in Tradewinds C/D, executives from the organization—including chairman Stephen Lussier, CEO of Forevermark—will unveil a new digital campaign based on “insights about the millennial audience and their attitudes to relationships, love, and life,” says DPA’s CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr. The upshot? Diamonds are forever—but the way the industry promotes them must change. VG


Among the 74 Design Center Residents: Sydney Lynch. (Midnight multilink bracelet with iolite, sapphires, onyx, labradorite, black diamonds, moonstone, black tourmaline, and pietersite in 18k and 22k gold and silver; $7,000)

17. See the latest and greatest in Design.

The Design Center Residents are the names you know and love: JS Noor, Lulu Designs, Nina Nguyen, Pyrrha, Shay Fine Jewelry, Sydney Lynch, Trésor Collection, and Vasant Designs are only a few of the 74 established brands in the neighborhood. And even with all their years of experience, these designers are still turning out terrifically imaginative and new collections. For the independent jewelry retailer, these booths are a must. —MRB

18. Join the social conversation.

Be sure to follow the magazine (@JCKmagazine) and the show (@JCKEvents) on Twitter and Instagram, and tag your photos and tweets with the official hashtags: #jcklasvegas, #luxurybyjck, #swisswatch, and #jisexchange. And if you’re reading this at the airport—or while you’re stuck on the runway—tell us you’re #jckbound. Reunion pics, happy-hour snaps, booth-rec tweets—tag ’em all. We want to see what you’re seeing—and all the fun you’re having! —MRB


New this year: the LUXURY Watch show, featuring brands such as Cuervo y Sobrinos. (Historiador Clásico with Louisiana alligator strap; price on request)

Another new LUXURY arrival: Drop Dead Gorgeous designer Erica Courtney. (Orchid ring in 18k gold with 2.15 ct. fire opal and 0.68 ct. t.w. diamonds; $12,000)

19. Make time for LUXURY. 

Longtime fans of the LUXURY show should set aside more time for this year’s expanded event. From Tuesday, May 31, to Monday, June 6, the show welcomes a total of 245 exhibitors—including industry mainstays Erica Courtney, Michael M, and Nanis—in the Mandalay Bay Ballroom and an adjacent Oceanside Ballroom that will play host to Prestige and the brand-new LUXURY Watch show. “With these additions we are striving to create the ultimate in convenience for high-end retail stores,” says Sarin Bachmann, industry vice president of the LUXURY and Swiss Watch events. Note: Prestige runs all seven days of LUXURY, while LUXURY Watch is open Thursday, June 2, to Sunday, June 5. And, as always, the first three days (May 31–June 2) are invite-only. —VG

20. Learn the lab-grown lingo.

Stand back and watch the sparks over synthetic diamonds fly at “Lab-Grown Diamonds: Threat or Opportunity (or Both?),” a panel discussion moderated by JCK’s Rob Bates and featuring panelists from GIA, Stuller, Gabriel & Co., and the new Leonardo DiCaprio–backed lab-grown start-up Diamond Foundry. Topics will include the potential effect of synthetics on the diamond market, whether lab-grown diamonds can be called ethical, and the likelihood that they will hold their value over time. “Given the spirited back-and-forth lately between some members of the industry and Diamond Foundry, we are hoping for a lively exchange of ideas,” Bates says. Join the conversation on Thursday, June 2 (1:15–2 p.m., Tradewinds C/D). —VG

21. Discover how to wow. 

In How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your [Brilliant] Self in Any Situation, author Frances Cole Jones begins with a lesson on the nonnegotiable principles of presenting yourself. “So often we think presentation and communication are about the words we say,” she writes. “In fact, it’s often far more about how we say them, and what our body is doing while we are saying them.” All JCK badge holders can learn more about Jones’ insights during her JCK Talks keynote speech, “10 Things You Can Do Today to Wow Tomorrow,” on Thursday, June 2 (9–10 a.m., South Seas Ballroom). —VG

22. Share your Passion.

They say passion is contagious. We’re putting that theory to the test with The Passion Project: Ben Smithee, of the Smithee Group and Luxe Intelligence, presents a series of speed-dating–style presentations where industry folks talk up their non-jewelry interests. Yes, we do think about things other than diamonds! (Friday, June 3, 8–9 p.m., The Loft, Palm Foyer) —MRB

23. Join the Elite.

As always, Elite Enclave is your go-to to view a curated selection of luxury brands— Borgioni, Cassis, Graziela Gems, Sasha Primak, and VTse—in an intimate, luxe setting. This year, you’ll also get a three-dimensional glimpse into the high-end store of the future via Intervision, a retail-technology demo curated by Luxe Intelligence founder Andrea Hansen. “Jewelry as a category has lost relevance in the mind and shopping habits of the millennial, who is the luxury consumer for the next 10 to 15 years,” she explains. “Our goal is to integrate these ideas into solutions that the retailers can adopt right now. Hence the name Intervision.” Brands involved will be tackling everything from virtual and augmented reality (Richline, Excelion Technology) to design and displays (Faubion Associates, NicoNat) to, of course, gems and jewels (Takat, Wendy Brandes, Farah Khan, and more). —MRB

24. Eat for Good.

Dine well and pay it forward at the Diamonds Do Good Awards gala hosted by the Diamond Empowerment Fund on Thursday, June 2, at the Four Seasons Ballroom. Proceeds from the event—which honors Nathan R. “Nate” Light, former CEO of Sterling Jewelers, with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award—will go toward providing scholarships for youth from global diamond communities. Executive director Nancy Orem Lyman calls this year’s DEF gala “a bigger, bolder, and broadened event designed to celebrate and highlight inspirational stories from Diamond Empowerment Fund scholars while saluting the achievements of individuals and companies who have helped transform our world into a better place by doing good.” Tickets, while they last, are available online at diamondsdogoodawards.org. VG


Arya Esha was a 2015 Editor’s Choice Award finalist; find her this year in LUXURY. (Earrings with 46.25 cts. t.w. cabochon trillion rose quartz and 4.84 cts. t.w. diamonds in 18k blackened gold; $10,000)

25. Applaud the award winners.

Not everyone’s a winner in Sin City, but you can count on congratulating at least a few victors during JCK. At the LUXURY breakfast and keynote presentation in the South Seas Ballroom on Thursday, June 2, learn which of five retailers—Two by London, Bernie Robbins Jewelers, Crocker’s Jewelers, Royal Jewelers, or Wick & Greene Jewelers—will be crowned LUXURY Retailer of the Year. On Friday, June 3, an Evening of Design kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at The Loft in the Palm Foyer. The hour-long ceremony includes both the Design Center Editor’s Choice Award, which celebrates boundary-breaking Design Center exhibitors, and the Top 50 Designer Retailer Awards, honoring retailers who excel at promoting and selling designer jewelry. #Winning! —VG


There’s no shortage of gold—or whimsical designs—at VicenzaOro. (Angry Jewellery ring in 18k rose gold with 7.45 cts. t.w. black diamonds; price on request)

26. Visit Italy (vicariously).

Trends, jewelry, and fashion come together at “VicenzaOro Italian Passion. Made With Love,” the Italian jewelry industry’s new pavilion at JCK Las Vegas, home to more than 100 brands representing the Italian gold and jewelry manufacturing trade. At the entrance to the pavilion, look for a display by Trendvision Jewellery+Forecasting, Fiera di Vicenza’s trend forecasting arm that offers a glimpse of the mega-trends destined to hit big in 2017. “It’s not just a color, the long hoop, or the short hoop,” says Trendvision creative director and forecaster Paola De Luca. “It’s about business. It’s crucial to be ahead of the season.” —VG 


Top and inset: Photograph by Greg Sorensen; Styling by Catherine Peridis

Market editor: Jennifer Heebner. Makeup by Kumiko Hirose for The Brooks Agency. Hair by Gusléne Bubak. Manicure by Jasmin Cameron. Dress by NBD x the Naven Twins.

Top: Martini studs and earring jackets in 18k gold with diamonds, $24,850, Natalie K for Forevermark, Los Angeles, 800-688-6101, nataliek.com; necklace in stingray and 14k gold with South Sea pearl and diamonds, $1,750, Little H for the Pearl Collective, Los Angeles, 310-474-8788, pearlcollective.com; necklace in 18k gold with black and colorless diamonds, $64,000, Stripe bracelet in 18k gold with diamonds, $13,360, Roberto Demeglio for Beny Sofer, NYC, 800-307-6337, www.robertodemeglio.com; cuff in 18k gold with diamonds, $1,010, beaded bracelet in 18k gold with diamonds, $1,640, Doves by Doron Paloma, Great Neck, N.Y., 888-663-6837, dovesjewelry.com; hinged Everest ring in 18k gold with diamonds, $5,500, Graziela Gems, Highland Park, Ill., 773-619-3999, grazielagems.com

Inset: Feather earrings in 18k gold and colored titanium with copper-colored pearls, price on request, Jacob & Co., NYC, 212-719-5887, jacobandco.com; midi ring in 18k gold with a pear-shape diamond on transparent wire, $2,590, Designs by HC, NYC, 212-382-3062, designsbyhc.com; Y necklace in 18k gold with diamonds, $756, pyramid ring in 18k gold with diamonds, $1,764, Doves by Doron Paloma, Great Neck, N.Y., 888-663-6837, dovesjewelry.com; infinity ring in 14k gold and diamonds, $1,120, Paige Novick, NYC, 212-252-1441, paigenovick.com; mini triangle midi ring in 14k gold, $560, Ilana Ariel, NYC, 212-947-2600, ilanaarielcollections.com; flat ring in 18k gold, $1,845, Bijules, NYC, 347-262-0921, bijulesnyc.com

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