150 Years, 150 Voices: Reflections on JCK, Part 6



JCK would be nowhere without the industry insiders who have helped the magazine along the way—by making the news, reading it in our pages, or both. So we asked 150 of them to join the dialogue about how the jewelry business has changed over the decades and the role we have played in that evolution. Here are the final 25.

•••

“The biggest changes over time have definitely been in technology. Everything moves at a much faster pace. Products and companies can be launched in the blink of an eye. Important decisions and purchases can be made over a smartphone. But even with all of these advances, our industry is still primarily about relationships and reputation—business is still done with a handshake.”
Niveet Nagpal, president and head designer, Omi Privé

•••

Todd Reed“I’ve been in the jewelry industry since 1992. Over time, the digital landscape has leveled the playing field by allowing designers to reach more buyers, stores, and other retail opportunities. Social media gets designs in front of everyone immediately. The jewelry industry has worked its way into homes and garages and guest rooms with sites like Etsy. Instead of our industry getting smaller, it’s gotten larger.”
Todd Reed, founder and designer, Todd Reed

•••

David Federman“I came to JCK in 1972. For my first significant feature, editor George Holmes set me loose to drive through the South for three weeks—starting in Atlanta and ending in Birmingham, Alabama—to interview every jeweler I could find. He sent me to Antwerp, Bombay, and Tel Aviv in 1979 to write the most famous story I ever wrote for JCK, ‘Checkmate: De Beers Moves to Protect the Cartel.’ In the year following, I wrote a major exposé of a widespread tax fraud that involved donating junk gems to museums at vastly inflated valuations. A grateful IRS official told me, ‘It’s because of your magazine that we’re in this room today.’ Every writer I worked with at JCK earned similar accolades. We were in fierce but friendly competition to maintain our magazine’s golden standard for excellence.”
David Federman, former senior editor, JCK; former executive editor, Modern Jeweler

•••

Antoinette Matlins“When I started, it was all about diamonds, rubies, sapphires—which were always blue—and emeralds. Today there is a much larger palette of exciting colored gems to choose from: tsavorite, tanzanite, aquaprase, and even red beryl/red emerald. We see sapphires in virtually every color, and we have tourmaline in every color, not just green.”
Antoinette Matlins, gem and jewelry author; president, Antoinette Matlins LLC

•••

Ellen Fruchtman“We are a full-service advertising agency, and in 1999 our company made a decision to go all in for the jewelry industry. In the beginning, everything we did was traditional marketing. Now, at least 60% of what we do is digital. The industry was slow on the uptick. But most are starting to get it.”
Ellen Fruchtman, president, Fruchtman Marketing

•••

Georgie Gleim“Security has been a big change. When I started in the family store over 40 years ago, vendors still came in with a pair of sample bags. There was no fear of setting appointments in advance, and no one felt the need to dress down in casual clothes with a backpack.”
Georgie Gleim, owner and president, Gleim the Jeweler

•••

Andrew Block“I well remember my early impressions of JCK magazine. To me it was the equal to some of the more notable fashion magazines in layout, size, and imagery. We always kept a library of JCK issues as reference.”
Andrew Block, CEO, Second Time Partners

•••

David Rocha“When I started with MJSA [Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America] in 1986, we had a publishing agreement with JCK for AJM [American Jewelry Manufacturer] magazine. Many of the same sales and production folks handled AJM, and we worked together a lot. JCK has always been a group of highly qualified professionals who take what they do very seriously and only produce the best.”
David Rocha, executive director, Jewelers for Children

•••

Roberto Coin portofino bangles
Portofino 2-row and 4-row bangles in 18k white and yellow gold with 1.91 cts.–3.75 cts. t.w. diamonds, $11,500–$21,500, Roberto Coin

“During the past few years, changes in the jewelry business have come faster than ever. The entire world is living in acceleration. I like changes, as they are chances. But often they’re not correctly remembered, and they get lost in time. I am quite sure that, over 150 years, JCK has much more to tell than me about them. I would love to go through your archives and find them all written—like a fascinating testimony of the story of jewelry. A hundred and fifty is a great age and for sure a great achievement. All the very best for your future!”
Roberto Coin, founder and designer, Roberto Coin

•••

Jo Lawson“I’m a relative newcomer to the jewelry industry. I worked at Apple for nearly 10 years, then launched the wearables initiative for Movado Group in 2014. In many ways, this industry is a lot like others. Technology is changing the way we do business and creating opportunities to get very close to our customers through data and marketing, even without physical stores.”
Jo Lawson, CEO, Sparkle Cut Diamonds

•••

Ashley Brown“Over time, retailers have begun to see the importance of branding themselves. That shift in mindset, the introduction of the internet, and now the demand for ­customization have really changed everything about running a jewelry business. My first impression of JCK was that it was serious—a newsy publication. It has since evolved its character to still report the pertinent industry news but with more personality.”
Ashley Brown, executive director of marketing and public relations, Stuller

•••

Ruth Batson“Looking back over my 25 years with the American Gem Society and AGS Labs, generational transitions in family businesses, the introduction of new diamond treatments and synthetics, and, of course, online retailing were monumental!”
Ruth Batson, former CEO, American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories

•••

Andy Johnson“The manufacturing and design process has witnessed incredible changes over the years. Computer-aided design and rapid 3D printing have led to better design capabilities and mass ­customization, accelerating the delivery of a finished product from the vision stage to the consumer.”
Andy Johnson, owner, Diamond Cellar Holdings

•••

Matthew Perosi“The past 16 years have seen a gradual shift in how the ­jewelry industry views internet technology—initially as a fad, then a requirement, and now a way of life. Keeping abreast of new ways of doing business is difficult for everyone who’s trying to make the right choices to further their business. Time and again, JCK has reported that jewelers should never pinch pennies when it comes to internet ­technologies, just as it did in the 1960s about the importance of TV commercials.”
Matthew Perosi, chief thinker, Sapphire Collaborative

•••

Ewa Rachon“These are not quiet times for jewelry or raw materials, nor will they be in the future. We need to compete for the attention of a tattooed and computer-literate new generation. JCK magazine means effectiveness, curiosity, and knowledge—meeting people from the most important businesses and R&D [research and development] institutions and feeling the pulse of where the market is going.”
Ewa Rachon, director, Ambermart

•••

Lee Lawrence“For many in the jewelry industry, Maiden Lane and Fulton Street in New York are now only a memory. But that area was very much part of the business when I joined JCK in 1963. For the following 35 years, I was fortunate to work with talented professionals who made JCK the industry leader.”
Lee Lawrence, former JCK international sales ­manager; founder, Professional Jeweler

•••

Irene Neuwirth pink opal cherry blossom earrings
18k gold Pink opal cherry blossom branch earrings, $23,680, Irene Neuwirth

“One of the greatest shifts I have seen is that women have become much more directly involved in becoming collectors. I used to see a lot of women educating their partners on what they liked. But now my customer is a woman buying the jewelry for herself. I feel like she really connects with the jewelry on an emotional and artistic level, which brings me great joy, truly.”
Irene Neuwirth, owner and designer, Irene Neuwirth Jewelry

•••

Ben Janowski“I’ve been in the industry for 42 years, but who’s counting? We went from being a cordial, ­localized industry to one that was boosted big-time by the development of the ­Interstate Highway System and the boom in suburbia and mall ­construction. Now, greatly abetted by the latest selling tool, the internet, the old retail ­formats are eating their own. Today, our core retailers, the independent operations, know that their future lies in expanding their reach. JCK is essential in gathering and publicizing information about trends, technology, personnel, and the outlook for the industry.”
Ben Janowski, founder, Janos Consultants

•••

Shane McClure“When I first came to GIA’s downtown L.A. lab, there was no identification department. We all knew some colored stones could be treated, but we really didn’t know how to detect many of those treatments. Our expanded focus on colored stones proved fortunate, because advances in technology have continued to give rise to many new treatments that can significantly affect the value of a gemstone.”
Shane McClure, director of West Coast Identification Services, GIA Laboratory

•••

James Courage“In the late ’80s, JCK was an important source of information to me as one of those responsible for De Beers’ U.S. marketing programs. At that time, De Beers employees couldn’t visit the U.S., so JCK helped to fill the gaps and provide a valuable overall view of what was happening. Once I moved to PGI, JCK again played an important role in reflecting the growing importance of platinum in the bridal jewelry market in the U.S.”
James Courage, former De Beers executive; former Platinum Guild International CEO;
former Responsible Jewellery Council chairman

•••

Cap Beesley“In 1975, Richard Liddicoat, the president of GIA, asked if I would be interested in addressing the AGS [American Gem ­Society] Conclave with Dr. Kurt Nassau and Bob Crowningshield. Part of my presentation detailed my recommendations for GIA’s first foray into colored stone grading. Its overwhelming success ­resulted in Mr. Liddicoat assigning me the task of ­developing GIA’s first colored stone grading course. Today, consumer protection objectives are being diluted in a maze of meaningless gem lab terminology, floating diamond grading standards, and misguided public policies. JCK has faithfully followed and reported many of these activities and developments, establishing and reinforcing its well-deserved reputation of presenting information with a fair and balanced approach.”
C.R. “Cap” Beesley, chairman, Gemstone Standards Commission

•••

Tiffany Kay“I’ve grown up in a family-owned jewelry business, and JCK was and continues to be my number one source for news and trends in the industry. JCK has only ever been interested in bringing to light the visions, dreams, and ideas created in the minds and hearts of the many artists around the globe. In the words of my father [the late designer Scott Kay], ‘Having someone’s back, no matter what, is heroic and speaks of passion and honor.’ I thank you all at JCK for capturing the essence of who my father was and continuing to support me in my new ventures.”
Tiffany Kay, founder, Tiffany Kay Studio

•••

Basant Johari“In the early ’80s, I was part of an influx of immigrants from India, Iran, and other Middle Eastern and European countries who were migrating to the U.S. to expand their businesses, resulting in a boost in international trade and diversification of materials. The rough diamond business eventually phased out, and melee diamonds played a big role in the industry in the ’90s. In the 2000s, volume jewelry manufacturing moved overseas. The industry has been evolving all along, and it seems to be changing at a faster pace these days.”
Basant Johari, president, Kubér

•••

John Green“Forty years ago, there were no jewelry brands, internet, or iPhones. We were open five days a week, and margins were a heck of a lot better. Everything has changed: the mix of our merchandise, the rise of jewelry and watch brands, marketing, responding to customer requests immediately, the importance of training our staffs, how we merchandise our showcases, technology. The retail experience—now certainly a buzzword—is a cornerstone to building traffic in our stores. And that experience has to be authentic and change to fit our customers’ tastes.”
John Green, co-owner, president, and CEO, Lux Bond & Green

•••

Ralph Destino“Ours is an industry that leads us to bring genuine passion to the work we do. During my professional lifetime, the underlying love of trade by jewelry people has remained a constant. As we witnessed major developments such as retail consolidation, branding, enhanced marketing know-how, and the powerful impact of social media and e-commerce, we called upon that passion to absorb those changes and to deal with them in a savvy and winning way. And JCK helped us do that. I, for one, read and digest every page in every issue.”
Ralph Destino, chairman emeritus, Cartier North America and GIA

Top: 2015 Grand Prize JCK Jewelers’ Choice Award–winning black opal ring with tsavorite, blue sapphires, and diamonds, Omi Privé