The first JCK Show ~ Las Vegas occurred during a recession. The announcement by JCK magazine that it would sponsor a trade show for the jewelry industry in early June 1992 was a radical departure from tradition. Many industry insiders predicted the new show would fail. It was too early. Jewelers could not or would not plan their Christmas business in June. The economy was poor. But, contrary to the opinions of the naysayers, the show was a phenomenal success.

It wasn’t perfect, of course. The large number of on-site registrations created confusion. Retailers jammed the lobby and lined up outside the building. The JCK ad sales force was pressed into service to provide water and soft drinks to those waiting patiently—or impatiently—in line.

But the buyers bought, and when the final bell rang, exhibitors broke into spontaneous applause. JCK operated the show until its parent company, Chilton, was purchased by Reed Elsevier and the operational responsibility switched to Reed Exhibitions.

Since 1992 the show’s momentum has increased, though the electric enthusiasm of that first year has never been fully replicated. The Sands Expo Center converted the parking space on level one into show space, doubling the number of exhibitors. Today, The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas hosts nearly 3,000 exhibitors and approximately 23,000 buyers from roughly 7,000 retail jewelry stores. It offers a greater assortment of products and services than any other show in the United States and probably is the largest jewelry show in the world.

Other show organizers have tried to ride The JCK Show’s coattails. Next year, the Couture Show will debut in Las Vegas, moving from Phoenix in an effort to meet its clients’ needs. Some view this as a threat to The JCK Show. But meeting your customers’ needs is not a threat. It only becomes one if you fail to live up to your customers’ needs and expectations.

To put a fine point on it, consider this story about Knute Rockne, the fabled Notre Dame football coach. One year, when Notre Dame was ranked No. 2 and Army was No. 1, the teams were scheduled to meet in New York City for a showdown. The Fighting Irish got to the city before the West Point team, which was delayed by a snowstorm. As a result, their coaching staff missed Notre Dame’s practice. Army’s coach mentioned that to reporters covering the game, and they mentioned it to Rockne. He told them to bring the Army coach to the Notre Dame locker room, where he would review his plans in detail. It didn’t matter if Army knew what plays the Irish would run, Rockne said, because winning depended on how well Notre Dame executed.

The 2004 JCK Show ~ Las Vegas was, in a word, phenomenal. From the onset of the Luxury Show on Monday to the conclusion of The JCK Show the following Tuesday to the spontaneous applause of the exhibitors, the show was electric, exciting, and exhilarating. And for just a moment, I thought it was 1992 again.