From the Publisher: January–February 2018

JCK publisher Mark SmelzerHappy New Year!

By the time this issue is out, you’ll have made it through the holiday season and you should have a pretty good idea about how your store fared. We certainly hope it was a terrific one!

Despite all the chaos and noise coming from (both sides in) Washington, the good news is the economy continues to chug along. Unemployment is low and consumer confidence is up. On the jewelry retail front, there are those who feel the reduction in the number of stores is nearing its end, as we go from an over-stored past to a new leaner-meaner future. As I wrote in our last issue, the amount of jewelry sold is actually on the rise, so hopefully, that means more revenue per store for the thousands of remaining U.S. jewelry retailers.

I had a fascinating trip to northwest New York state in November that left me feeling optimistic about the industry and the country. JCK sales executive Randi Gewertz and I traveled to Buffalo and Rochester to see our friends at Rembrandt Charms and RDI Diamonds.

In both cities, the vibration of renewal and rebirth is strong. Signs of the “glory days” are all around, from grand old office buildings to lovely historic neighborhoods. There’s also an air of decay at sites like the abandoned Buffalo Central Terminal. And yet, it’s clear that the cities are rebounding. We stayed in an impressive new hotel/arena complex in an area of Buffalo that was abandoned just a few years ago. In Rochester, we dined in a beautiful new restaurant near the old Erie Canal.

Both companies are thriving too. Their offices feature expanding or newly expanded facilities filled with upbeat, enthusiastic employees. After years of visiting companies during recessionary times, it was a delight to see.

Here’s hoping the American economic engine continues to gain steam, and we in the industry can get back to the business of being a part of significant life moments, well-earned self-gifting, and just-plain-fun fashion buying.

I look forward to seeing friends during the Arizona jewelry and gem shows in late January/early February: Centurion, JCK Tucson, AGTA GemFair, and the other shows on the colored stone circuit. See you there!

P.S. In a hopeful sign for 2018, we just closed the Jewelers’ Choice Awards submissions period, with a 20 percent increase in entries over 2017. We’re excited for you to see the designers’ and manufacturers’ creations and vote at

Top: Rochester, N.Y., by night

(Smelzer photograph by Nicholas A. Prakas; grooming: Claudia Andreatta/Halley Resources; Rochester: photoquest7/istock/Getty)

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