Modern Luxury



Wow—I can’t believe it’s early April, and the Baselworld fair in Switzerland and the SMART Jewelry Show in Chicago are already history. Both shows left me feeling optimistic and confident that manufacturers who are nimble, creative, social media–savvy, and dedicated to presenting fresh products are doing well.

The Basel fair is unique. It’s amusing to see friends casually adapt to the unusual housing options the city provides (demands, actually): “Are you staying on a boat?” “Do you have an apartment?” “Do you actually have a hotel room?” And suddenly, everyone speaks “tram,” referring to the public transport options they rely on to get to the convention center: “I’m on the 6.” “Are you on the 15?”

Each evening, hundreds of attendees gather in front of the main hall for a classic Swiss-German beer hall happy hour with live music, beer served in steins, and plenty of networking. I truly look forward to these schmooze-fests, where I’m able to see and make friends from around the world.

Baselworld
During the Baselworld fair, people gather in front of the convention center to enjoy a beer with friends from around the world.

The SMART Show in Chicago is a different animal. Manageable, informal, and mostly domestic—as opposed to Basel’s huge, formal, international production—the show provides a valuable opportunity to catch up with friends from across the country in a relaxed atmosphere. Congrats to Dan Kisch and the team at Smart Media on a successful show.

I was lucky to enjoy several terrific dinners in both cities (a distinct benefit of attending these events). One meal in particular, however, presented a stark example of a change I’ve noticed in the definition of “luxury,” and one I hope continues to evolve in our industry and others.

The dinner was at a very old-school restaurant in Basel. Although the company was fantastic, we all had to endure a great deal of formality, beginning with a stuffy waiter in black tie who seemed miffed that we weren’t taking his presentation of the night’s specials seriously enough. The setting was heavy with stiff tablecloths, overstuffed seats, yards of drapery, and so forth. And while the food was delicious, comparable or better meals can easily be found in more relaxed settings.

I don’t mean to sound unappreciative or critical. My point is that the definition of luxury is changing. For me, luxury is about amazing service and phenomenal product. It’s a beautiful, comfortable blazer with jeans versus a structured, uncomfortable suit. It’s receiving a warm greeting in a jewelry store and being shown modern, easy, wearable jewelry (still featuring precious stones and metals, of course). 

Like spats and starched collars, the stiff interiors and snobbish attitudes of old-school jewelry retailing will, hopefully, continue to fade into the past. If you ask me, the best kind of luxury is sophisticated, friendly, and, best of all, casual!