Everything We Learned From the Educational Seminars at JCK Las Vegas 2014

Need a few bright ideas for your store? We ­collected the top takeaways from the best speeches and seminars at JCK.

This year, there were 70-plus educational sessions at JCK Las Vegas. Even if you’d spent all day every day ­hopping from speech to seminar, you’d have packed in only about 20. But we know you like to walk the show floor—plus eat lunch, chat with your fellow showgoers, and have a drink or two. That’s why we’re here. We hit more than a few ­sessions and selected some choice tidbits from some of our faves. See you in 2015!


The Topic

20 Store Events Worth Stealing
Cathy Calhoun, owner, Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, Pa.

The Takeaways

Trunk shows? Not for Cathy Calhoun. Try brownies, concerts, and film fests.

• Calhoun’s events usually include a charitable angle, but always transcend the ho-hum trunk show model (which she feels has lost its luster). “Think about making your event Hollywood.” Calhoun hosts Blobfest, a celebration of the classic movie, The Blob, at a theater every year. A major highlight: Customers and community members reenact the mass-exodus-from-the-theater scene.

• She sponsors an event called Bringing Home the Bacons, where Kevin Bacon and his brother put on a concert for locals for free, to raise funds for a local theater. “And of course he has to buy jewelry.”

• The retailer also plans an extravagant event for her top female customers every year, which always ends with a spa visit. Last year’s treat was an all-night dance lesson with Dancing With the Stars heartthrob Maksim Chmerkovskiy, aka the bad boy of the ballroom, who ­Calhoun reports was utterly ­graceful in the face of a woman crying and clawing at him in excitement. “You have to reward your exceptional customers.”

• “You have to make your event a happening.” ­Calhoun recalls a hippie-themed event where her ­counters were draped in tie-dye fabric and she wore Janis Joplin’s old bell-bottoms. A hippie-dippy rock band played, and plates of brownies were strewn around the shop. “I tried to think of what I ate as a hippie, and all I could think of was brownies,” she said, eliciting a huge laugh from the crowd. “For the special brownies, you had to come to my office.”

• Calhoun always sends out paper invites in ­envelopes and takes the time to make them look attractive and ­exciting. Her typical lead time for ­mailing an ­invitation: three weeks. “I always do an event on Wednesday night. ­Thursday night is always a busy night. And Monday/Tuesday seem to be too close to the weekend.”

The Topic

Rapaport Certification Conference
Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO, Jewelers Vigilance ­Committee; Saville Stern, chief operating officer, RapNet; Jerry Ehrenwald, president and CEO, International ­Gemological Institute; Ben Gordon, The Jewelry Judge; James E. Shigley, ­distinguished research fellow, GIA; ­Sabyasachi Ray, executive director, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India

The Takeaways

• If you sell a diamond with an inaccurate report, you are legally responsible for its representations, Gardner said. The law understands diamond grading is subjective, but when there is a three or four grade difference, “you get evidence of a clear intent to deceive.”

• Jewelers should never call reports certificates, Gardner maintained. “They don’t meet the legal standard for certifications. Does the public call them certs? Yes. Am I on a mission to change that? Yes.”

• While some labs will grade how customers want them to, it’s up to retailers to take the high road, Stern said. “It gets down to what we as retailers sell. Do we sell the piece of paper or the emotion or the relationship?”

• An analysis of diamonds on RapNet found that GIA dominates listings on the network, particularly for higher-color stones.

• When the discussion turned to synthetics, Ehrenwald said the industry shouldn’t be afraid of them, adding that there have been gemstone synthetics for years.

The Topic

Jewelry Attitudes and Behaviors of Bicultural Consumers
Verky Arcos Baldonado, fashion director, Latina magazine

The Takeaways

• There are 50 million Latinos in the United States; they are the new majority minority.

• In Latino culture, there is a pride in beauty and fashion that starts almost from birth—infants wear bracelets and have their ears pierced—and lasts throughout life.

• Acculturated Latinas—women 18–34 who are U.S.-born or have been here more than 10 years—are the desirable segment in jewelry: 89 percent had purchased jewelry in the past year; 46 percent had purchased fine jewelry. They are your gateway to the rest of the Latino population.

• “The acculturated Latina is the one in the family ­making recommendations. I don’t just shop for me. In my mind, I’m also shopping for my friends and family. If you get to me, you’re going to get to the rest of my family.”

• Most special occasions are ­gift-giving occasions in the Latino community, and gifts are spread among the family. “On Mother’s Day, I’m not just getting a gift for my mom, I’m shopping for my sister, my sister-in-law, all the mothers in my family.”

The Topic

Trendmaster Amanda Gizzi

Trend Tracking 101: What to Buy and How to Use Trends to Increase Traffic and Drive Sales
Amanda Gizzi, director of public ­relations and special events at Jewelers of America, in partnership with Trend Vision

The Takeaways

• “You should have entry-level fashion-forward designs in your stores. I think it’s one thing that is missing in a lot of places. Be a trend destination!”

• Watch award shows, read ­fashion ­magazines and websites like Style.com, follow social media (hashtags ­#jewelrytrends, #trends, and ­#jewelry will get you started). “Red-carpet trends ­influence what customers want.”

• How to know what trends are right for your store: “There are trends that are really trendy, and then there are trends that are going to last, and in jewelry, those are the ones we are interested in. A lot of these trends are timeless. They are never going to go out of style; they just happen to be of the moment.”

• The trend that transcends all trends right now: “The feeling that pieces are one-of-a-kind, even if they aren’t.”

• “Social media is a great way to showcase ­celebrity trends, to show that jewelry is meant to be worn.”

The Topic

The 3-D Printing Revolution
Peggy Jo Donahue, director, ­Manufacturing Jewelers and ­Suppliers of America Education Foundation ­(moderator); Joshua St. John, director of user experience, 3D Systems; Mike Joyce, developer, B9Creator; Steven Adler, owner, A3DM ­Technologies; Tom Dougherty, owner, Studio 2015 Jewelry, Dougherty Enterprises

The Takeaways

• From additive manufacturing to laser sintering to rapid ­prototyping, 3-D printing goes by many names. “It’s an umbrella term,” St. John said. The printers all “work by taking shapes and slicing them into layers.” The correct terminology is “printing of objects,” Adler said. “But ‘3-D printing’ is more ­convenient for consumers.”

• The hardware has become much less expensive over time. “Years ago, 3-D printing required an investment of $65,000 to $85,000,” Adler said. “Today, it’s less than $5,000, truly democratizing the process.”

• “Look outside the jewelry industry, to general 3-D printing events—like the Rapid conference in Detroit—to understand the technology” and what’s coming next, Joyce said. “From shoes to the crowns on your teeth to hearing aids—almost every hearing aid in the world is 3-D printed.”

• Metals are the new frontier in 3-D printing. “We’ll start to see direct digital manufacturing of ceramic jewelry and karat gold jewelry,” Adler said. “Laser ­sintering will allow us to make objects we couldn’t make with the 2-D process: hollowware, articulating objects, lighter platinum, and ­palladium jewelry.”

• Digital printing enables retailers to control their own destinies. “Software is your best start,” Dougherty said, urging retailers to explore the CAD possibilities. “We’ve taken to calling it digital craftsmanship,” St. John said. “It goes hand-in-hand with bench skills.”

(Reporting by Rob Bates, Victoria Gomelsky, Logan Sachon, and Emili Vesilind)

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