I recently returned to California—where I lived many years before moving East—for two weeks of industry events and visiting friends of JCK.

First was GIA Symposium in San Diego, where more than 1,300 international attendees gathered to celebrate, network, and discuss the key issues facing the jewelry industry.

The event kicked off with a fascinating speech by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, preceded by a standing ovation for retired former president of GIA, Bill Boyajian. That evening, GIA’s 75th anniversary celebration took place, complete with fireworks and a performance by crooner Chris Isaak. The next two days were filled with impressive keynote addresses, enlightening business sessions, and heated debates.

I’m always impressed by the passion and commitment the players in this business possess. The discussions at Symposium drove this point home. Emotions ran high and arguments were fierce, but ultimately everyone had the same goal in mind—the preservation and promotion of the industry.

In addition to time spent seeing clients and friends in Los Angeles, I also visited two retailers, to learn more about their businesses, challenges, and relationship to the JCK publications and Web site. I visited Stephen Polacheck and his son, Brent, in their beautiful Calabasas store. Stephen gave me invaluable insight and suggestions for the magazines. I was impressed to hear that Stephen changed the lighting in his newest store—at great expense—as a result of our article last year about Fortunoff’s cutting-edge store in New York! I’m sure Polacheck’s palpable warm family atmosphere is the foundation of their ongoing success.

I also spent time with Westime’s John and Barbara Simonian in their Beverly Hills offices. John regaled me with stories about the watch side of retailing ($300,000+ watches!) and made invaluable suggestions about JCK. I plan to put the best of these ideas into action.

I look forward to more meetings with retailers as I crisscross the country this fall. It’s a thrill to see firsthand the impact our publications have on their readers and to learn ways we can improve that relationship.

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