NOLA or Bust: All About the American Gem Society’s Annual Conclave

AGS heads to The Big Easy for its annual Conclave

Sixteen years ago, the American Gem Society held its Conclave in New Orleans. The theme, “Designing Your Profits,” focused on helping attendees achieve greater margins. This year, AGS returns to the Crescent City April 22–25 for more industry education at the New Orleans Marriott. While the theme has been updated—2015’s tagline is “Be Different. Be Distinctive. Be Here.”—you can bet boosting profit margins is still a No. 1 concern.

To that end, organizers have lined up keynote speakers—four-time Super Bowl champ Terry Bradshaw, Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner, record-setting long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, and motivational speaker Connie Podesta—to inspire and inform attendees about overcoming obstacles.

Session speakers, meanwhile, include some of the best and brightest people in the jewelry business, including designer Erica Courtney, retailer Lee Berg from Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, and Nancy Orem Lyman from the Diamond Empowerment Fund. The Jewelers of America Fashion Show also returns, with models sporting some of the newest looks from Conclave’s exhibitors.

But the most popular presentation at Conclave may not be about jewelry at all. ­Clayton Bromberg, president of Underwood Jewelers in Jacksonville, Fla., volunteered to talk about the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, when an American ­victory forced the British to ratify the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 and ­marking Louisiana’s political incorporation into the Union.

JCK news director (and comedy writer) Rob Bates resumes his duties as Conclave emcee for the third straight year, and looks forward to bantering with the speakers. “Last year I got to interview Magic Johnson and he called me short—twice,” Bates says. “I can’t wait to hear what Terry Bradshaw calls me this year.”

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