A West Coast Whirlwind: Publisher’s Letter, November 2015

Greetings! I’m writing this letter on the flight back to New York City from sunny, hot, dry Southern California.

One of the best parts of my annual travel cycle is the wonderful opportunity to combine GIA’s Career Fair, the Jewelers 24 Karat Club of Southern California’s annual dinner dance, visits with California clients, and time with my Los Angeles family. It’s always a fantastic trip, and this year was no exception.

A highlight was moderating the “Creative Careers” panel once again at the GIA Career Fair. The panel brings together four or five folks from our industry who have jewelry industry careers outside the typical manufacturer/retailer paradigm, and who’ve often traveled extremely interesting paths along the way.  The panel is a great opportunity to teach students to keep their minds and options open, to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and to know that life doesn’t always lead you where you might imagine.

As moderator, my unusual path to the jewelry industry fits right in. And I’m always delighted to share the fact that I couldn’t be happier that my unexpected route took me to this job! This year’s panel included Emitations.com and CrummyBunny.com CEO Au-Co Mai; art historian and historical goldwork scholar Tim Adams; jewelry designer and sculptor Michael Good; and editor, author, and For Future Reference cofounder Randi Molofsky.

At the GIA Career Fair with For Future Reference’s Randi Molofsky and JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky

The panelists were fascinating and entertaining, and they really drove home some key points about the necessary underpinnings for a successful career in this business: a respect and thirst for knowledge about the industry, an appreciation for who and what has come before us, an ability to keep our dreams alive while negotiating the day-to-day, and a willingness to work hard, whatever the current opportunity.

Michael Good had the audience—and me—spellbound as he spoke of the necessity of taking a leap of faith into the unknown in order to engage true creativity. I found myself wondering where “my abyss” lies, and look forward to leaping into it someday! I’m sure the copanelists and attendees felt the same way. Many, many thanks to GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques and GIA senior vice president and chief marketing officer Kathryn Kimmel for asking me to moderate again this year. I always finish the day feeling inspired.

Speaking of inspiration, the 24 Karat Club of Southern California’s dinner dance took place the following evening at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey. This year’s honorees were a trio of humble and truly inspirational industry members: designer Mark Schneider, retailer Steve Weiss of Kirk Jewelers, and retiring AGS Labs executive director Peter Yantzer. Each man gave a speech that brought the room to its feet, as they focused on the blessings they’ve been given, personally and professionally. The whole evening reminded us all just how special an industry this is.

Next up: JCK LUXURY Miami and the JIS Miami show (recently acquired by our parent company, Reed Exhibitions), followed by my yearly “trip to the swamp” to Stuller’s Bridge event in Lafayette, La. I hope to see you there!

(Smelzer photograph by Michael Falco)