The JCK Jewelry Industry Fund

JCK is frequently taken to task by our cross-town rivals for being pawns of the big corporate monolith, Reed Elsevier. JCK’s other competitors either ignore what we do, which may be understandable, or fail to call our trade shows by their correct names. For example, The JCK Las Vegas Show is called the “Vegas” show. The JCK Orlando Show is called the “Orlando” show. Such, I suppose, are the irritations of market leadership. More disturbing is the stunning silence that greets JCK’s significant effort to give something back to the industry.

I’m talking about the JCK Jewelry Industry Fund. The fund was established two years ago to provide financial support to individuals, associations, or groups that could demonstrate that a proposal would benefit the entire industry.

JCK magazine and The JCK Shows (Orlando and Las Vegas) each ante up $200,000 a year to support worthwhile projects. Cynics will say JCK can afford it: “Look at the size of the magazine and look at the success of the shows,” they’ll say. But in reality, $400,000 is a significant financial commitment on the part of both businesses. Both operate in highly competitive markets, and $200,000 from each budget represents a substantial outlay.

In 1999, the fund provided $148,000 to the Jewelry Information Center for a project called Counter Intelligence, operated under the aegis of the Jewelry Industry Task Force. Counter Intelligence, which you may have heard of by now, is a training program that teaches salespeople how to deal with the sensitive topics of enhancement and disclosure. According to JIC president and CEO Lynn Ramsey, more than 400 copies of Counter Intelligence have been sold so far, including 175 to the Zale Corp.

Another $90,000 was provided to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee to allow it to purchase a sophisticated piece of equipment for verifying gold karatage. For many years, JVC led the fight to halt the fraud of underkarating. Cecilia Gardner, JVC’s executive director, reports that as of the end of December, JVC has examined some 650 pieces of gold jewelry and sees the underkarating problem continuing.

The Gemological Institute of America was awarded $50,000 to develop a database on materials used for emerald fillers. The findings will enable jewelers to provide more comprehensive disclosure to their customers, which will help fend off image-damaging investigative reports on TV. The entire industry—not to mention consumers—stands to benefit.

The American Gem Trade Association and the Jewelers’ Security Alliance also received grants. AGTA used its money to add sophisticated equipment at its new laboratory in New York. Our grant to JSA enabled it to hold three conferences with police forces in Florida, Illinois, and New York, which addressed crime against jewelry retailers and their suppliers. Finally, the American Design Council received a small grant for its annual design conference to publicize American design talent.

The advisory board of the Jewelry Industry Fund met recently to select this year’s grant recipients. Watch for the announcement of the winners in our next issue. You’ll see from a description of the winning proposals that the JCK Jewelry Industry Fund once again will put its money where the industry needs it most.