I’m just about fully rested from yet another amazing nine days in Las Vegas. What an incredible week of trade shows, learning, industry events, and good old-fashioned schmoozing!
First up was the new, expanded LUXURY show. This year saw the debut of a new ballroom, which nearly doubled the square footage of the show. The booths in both halls were buzzing, and many exhibitors said they had their best year in quite some time—or ever. Congrats to Sarin Bachmann on a successful show!
Thursday was the annual bridge day between LUXURY and JCK Las Vegas, highlighted by JCK Talks, a series of educational seminars, speeches, and panels. Perhaps the best-attended (and most controversial) session was “Lab-Grown Diamonds: Threat or Opportunity (or Both?),” moderated by JCK’s Rob Bates and paneled by Stuller’s Stanley Zale, Gabriel & Co.’s Jack Gabriel, Diamond Foundry’s Maarten de Witte, GIA’s James Shigley, and the Diamond Producers Association’s Jean-Marc Lieberherr. It was fantastic to see so much power, influence, and passion in a single packed room.
I was honored to moderate the panel “LGBT Community: How to Merchandise and Market Your Store to Attract New Customers.” Our panel was a terrific mix of research (WeddingWire’s Andy Whittaker), blogging (HowHeAsked.com’s Stacy Stahl), media (Out Magazine’s Greg Brossia), design (pioneering LGBT wedding designer Rony Tennenbaum), and retail (Padis Jewelry’s Alexis Padis). The main conclusion of our panel? Treat your LGBT customers just as you would anyone else. It was a great lesson for us all.
With Andy Whittaker, Stacy Stahl, Greg Brossia, Rony Tennenbaum, and Alexis Padis at our lively JCK Talks session
Thursday evening’s highlight was the third annual Diamonds Do Good Awards gala. This year’s event was focused more on the success of the organization, featuring six Diamond Empowerment Fund Student Scholars from Africa. It was incredibly moving to hear their stories and see firsthand the good this organization does. Honored that evening were Diamond Development Initiative’s Dorothée Gizenga, Hong Kong retailer Chow Tai Fook, and Sterling Jewelers’ former CEO Nate Light (who was introduced in a very moving speech by his son Mark, now Sterling CEO). Congratulations to Mercury Ring’s Phyllis Bergman on this event’s best edition yet!
The big show began on Friday, and the new floor configuration (featuring a long avenue connecting the Sterling, Bridge, Now/Next, and First Look pavilions) was a hit. Upstairs featured new Plumb Club and VicenzaOro pavilions as well as the LUXURY ballrooms. Many exhibitors unveiled exciting new booths, including Stuller, Swarovski, and Thomas Sabo. In a year that saw low attendance at some of the major international shows, JCK Las Vegas 2016 was solid. Congrats to JCK’s Yancy Weinrich and her entire staff.
Sunday night the legendary JCK Rocks the Beach party—this year headlined by Train—was held at Mandalay Bay’s beachfront pool. This event is always a moment of pause for me, when I get to once again realize how lucky we are to be in a friendly, passionate, devoted, and connected industry.
Next up is New York jewelry week in July, highlighted by the JA New York show, JCK’s LUXURY Privé at the Waldorf Astoria, and the WJA Awards for Excellence and the AGS Circle of Distinction events. See you there!
Top: With my JCK teammates Sarin Bachmann (l.) and Yancy Weinrich (far r.), and the GIA’s Anna Martin, at the DEF Gala
(Smelzer photograph by Michael Falco; DEF: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Diamond Empowerment Fund)