Greetings from my flight home from this year’s edition of Baselworld, the über-upscale Swiss trade fair focused on the world’s top watch and jewelry brands. It’s no secret that there’s been significant change at the show, with a big decline in exhibitors. The question is why.
While I’m not in a position to know the entire backstory, I do think there may be a cautionary tale about “old” versus “new” luxury here. Historically, exclusivity and an air of superiority have characterized the very upper end of the luxury spectrum. While that can lead to success, it also carries the risk of generating resentment and alienation.
On the other hand, it’s been wonderful to watch the American definition of luxurious move further and further away from cold and exclusive to warm and inclusive, and from uptight to more relaxed and real. Hotels, restaurants, clubs, and stores have come to realize that being snooty makes one unlikable. As the younger generation becomes less interested in things that exclude and more interested in things that are experiential and artisanal, we’ll all be wise to offer stores, attitudes, and products that reflect this.
Although Baselworld did not give me the opportunity to see everyone in the biz as in years past, it was still a delight to walk the show and see old friends. And the watches and jewelry are as beautiful and stunning as ever. Talk about artisanal!
It will be interesting to watch the future of Baselworld and hear the industry discussions about it. I, for one, am rooting for the show, as I absolutely love the week in charming Basel and all that it brings.
Next up is the American Gem Society Conclave in Nashville. This year’s edition is being organized by one of our industry’s most dynamic millennials, Alexis Padis of San Francisco’s Padis Jewelry. I have a feeling it’s going to be a breath of fresh air and a glimpse of the new outlook we should all embrace.
I hope to see you there, and look forward to seeing you at JCK Las Vegas in late May! Enjoy this spectacular May issue of JCK, featuring the winners of the 2018 JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards. Congrats to all!
Top: A picturesque view of Basel and the river Rhine
(Smelzer photograph by Nicholas A. Prakas; grooming: Claudia Andreatta/Halley Resources; Basel: Switzerland Tourism/Andreas Gerth)