Editor’s Letter, May 2016: Blur Crazy

In March, I flew to New York City to attend the Women’s Jewelry Association’s 13th annual In the Know conference. This year’s event was made all the more special because my sister, Julia, came with me. (The conference organizers—Luxury Brand Group’s Jen Cullen Williams and NPD Group’s Desiree Hanson—had hired her to design a slew of conference-related graphics and covered her ticket to the daylong event.)

Jul and I both loved the keynote presentation by Randi Zuckerberg—and not just because she shared funny insights into her little brother Mark’s big company. (Check out the Jewel Box item about the former Facebooker.) During Zuckerberg’s inspiring talk, she made clear that in the new workspace, entrepreneurs and employees must be one and the same. “We all need to be creative,” Zuckerberg said. “We all need to think like entrepreneurs.”

Her message dovetailed perfectly with the conference’s overarching theme, “Blurring the Lines,” in recognition of the fact that the traditional boundaries that have defined our industry are giving way to a phenomenon of cross-pollination in which we share strategies, products, and clients with businesses that are new to jewelry. That’s why we’ve included not one article but two in this monster fashion issue examining contemporary retail formats—and offering lessons on what traditional fine jewelers might learn from their more entrepreneurial competitors.

In senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s “Lifestyle and Substance,” you’ll find a potent analysis of how apparel and accessories retailers are successfully courting jewelry customers. Meanwhile, contributor Randi Molofsky’s “Balancing Act” looks at retailers who walk the line between fine and fashion jewelry with spectacular results.

Take heart—jewelry isn’t the only industry undergoing a sea change. In our “Fall Fashion Spectacular,” contributor Venessa Lau serves up a rundown of trending jewelry styles, as seen on the fall 2016 catwalks, with this caveat: “The ground beneath us is shifting. It has been for some time, ever since we blurred the noun-verb divide with things like Instagram and Snapchat, and smart-screens stole our gaze. But fall 2016 was the season we realized we were dealing with a tectonic-level transition.”

Today’s heady combination of social media, digital commerce, 3-D printing, and just-in-time manufacturing is enough to make any retailer’s head spin. How are the savviest jewelers in the country handling the stress? We asked industry veteran and JCK contributor Whitney Sielaff to track down retailers who are thriving amid the uncertain climate of this crazy election year. Don’t miss their valuable sales advice in “Service With Style.” 

All of the above is designed to get you good and ready to tackle next month’s JCK Las Vegas. Contributor Kristin Young’s “Trend-by-Trend Buying Guide to JCK Las Vegas,” which solicits product picks from retailers nationwide, should be a big help too. So start making your market-week shopping list and rest up—we’ll see you on the show floor!

Top: My sister and I getting ready to blur some lines at the WJA’s In the Know conference

(Top: David Stewart Brown; inset: photograph by Steven Simko)