Editor’s Letter, February 2016: Modern Marriage

During the summers of 2013 and 2014, I attended two wildly different weddings. The first was a surprise picnic affair in Santa Monica, Calif., where one of my oldest, dearest friends married her longtime girlfriend as their 1-year-old daughter and a handful of our astonished friends bore witness.

The second was much more formal, if you consider that the guests knew in advance it was happening. My wonderful friend and JCK colleague Mark Smelzer married the love of his life, Eric, at a red barn in upstate New York. Both nuptials took place before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that same-sex couples have the right to marry, legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Since the ruling, “relationships between wedding jewelry retailers and same-sex couples are certainly more common,” writes senior editor Emili Vesilind in “Inside the Same-Sex Marriage Market: Real-Life Couples Tell All,” her feature on the jewelry industry’s approach to the same-sex market. “But has the buying experience become less daunting for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender consumers?”

Here at JCK, it’s our mission to ensure the answer to that question is a resounding yes. From the vocabulary your sales associates use to greet same-sex couples to the advertising you choose to promote your engagement and wedding jewels, there are loads of ways to make LGBT shoppers feel welcome in your store.

You might even consider sharing your inclusive spirit on Instagram, the social media tool beloved by jewelers. If you’re not on the app, resolve to change that ASAP. As contributor Martha C. White explains in “Instagram? Insta-Slam!,” “Among the various social sites, Instagram in particular seems tailor-made for the jewelry industry, with its simple format, focus on images over text, and filters that can make a picture look ethereal, bold, or anywhere in between.”

Once you’re up and ’gramming, the gemstone jewels profiled in our colored-stone spotlight would make excellent subjects. If you haven’t heard, “the big three” are back in a big way. In “Rubies and Sapphires and Emeralds…Oh My!,” senior editor Jennifer Heebner analyzes the gem market and finds that prices are on their way down. (You can thank the tanking Chinese economy.)

The U.S. economy, on the other hand, continues to chug along at a vigorous pace, especially compared with overseas markets. The holidays were bright for independent retailers around the country (read the full report in News Gems), and the outlook for 2016 appears to be positive, despite the Sturm und Drang that comes with an election year. Based on the smiles we saw at 24 Karat weekend in New York City in early January, we’re feeling more and more optimistic with each passing day.

Speaking of 24 Karat weekend, check out the photos in Social Diary and you’ll see our very own news director, Rob Bates, and his lovely wife, Susan, beaming in the glow of his Gem Award win in the Media Excellence category. Congrats, Rob! We always knew you were a winner—now the rest of the trade knows it too.

Top: With Media Excellence winner Rob Bates and JCK publisher Mark Smelzer at the Gem Awards

Gomelsky photograph by Steven Simko

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