Let’s Get Digital: JCK Virtual 2020 Comes to a Close



The virtual version of the jewelry show brought Las Vegas to living rooms all around the world

It wasn’t your typical show. But this isn’t a typical year.

After deciding not to hold the JCK Las Vegas show in June, Reed Exhibitions (which owns this publication) debuted JCK ­Virtual 2020, its first online jewelry trade show, Aug. 11–14. Sister show Luxury kicked off with an invite-only day on Aug. 10.

The event featured virtual education sessions, online “booths,” and even Zoom-hosted social events like “Drunk Yoga.”

“We wanted to be as true to JCK as we could,” says Sarin Bachmann, group vice president of JCK and Luxury.

While many participants inevitably missed the face-to-face aspect, the online show found many jewelers surprisingly upbeat, given all they’ve been through. JCK’s Jewelry Industry Confidence Index (JICI)—part of an extensive survey of jewelers conducted by research firm MRI-Simmons—stood at 66 this year. That’s a significant drop from last year’s JICI of 86, but it also means that two-thirds of jewelers feel optimistic about the future. (The complete JCK 2020 Jewelry Industry COVID-19 Business Impact Report can be ordered at lasvegas.jckonline.com/industrysurvey.)

Only 2% of survey respondents said their business would never recover. “In other words, 98% believe in a better tomorrow,” said Reed Exhibitions chief operating officer Yancy Weinrich in a presentation unveiling the results. That hopeful outlook was echoed by De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver, who said his company’s research into diamond sales found that ­consumers’ top needs are “security, stability, and control.” But right behind those is a desire for “positivity and hope.”

“There is no more potent symbol of security and stability than a product that has been here for billions of years and will be here for billions more,” Cleaver said in his opening keynote for Luxury.

John Carter, owner and CEO of Jack Lewis Jewelers in Bloomington, Ill., said that he’s found consumers wanting unique, meaningful pieces. “It’s almost like they are COVID merit badges,” he said on a webinar. “These are the things to say that we survived 2020 in its entirety, and we’re stronger.… We’re never going to look back and laugh, but we are going to look back and remember.”

Robb Report style editor Kareem Rashed agreed that shoppers are willing to spend for items with “inherent value.

“Jewelry is something you can have…with you when you’re in lockdown,” Rashed said in a session on industry trends. “It’s so personal. It’s one of the things that you can justify buying.”

While COVID-19 dominated the educational sessions, there were also discussions about big-picture topics, including sustainability and diversity. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the civil rights activist who founded Diamonds Do Good, said on a webinar that as the American public becomes more diverse, jewelers will have to do the same.

Chavis added that his daughter has enrolled at the GIA. “She’s really excited about it,” he said. “There are career paths in this industry, and we have to let people know about that.”

The JCK Industry Fund also unveiled a grant dedicated to promoting greater inclusivity in the industry.

JCK Las Vegas is scheduled to return to its standard nonvirtual format June 4–7, 2021, at the Venetian Resort & Sands Expo. Bachmann says that some of the features introduced at this year’s virtual event may become permanent parts of the show going forward.

Top: Triple Threat ring in platinum with 2.01 ct. radiant, 2.01 ct. oval, and 2.01 ct. heart-shape diamond; price on request; Rahaminov Diamonds; 213-622-9866; rahaminov.com