Publisher’s Letter, March–April 2016: Journey Man

It’s been a whirlwind of a winter, highlighted by a week in Italy for the VicenzaOro show and a week in Arizona for the Centurion, AGTA, and JCK Tucson shows.

This year’s Vicenza trip was made all the more special by my good friends at VicenzaOro: Corrado Facco, Patrizia Rovaris, and Stefania Fin. They included me in the opening-night cocktail party and jazz performance, the stunning press dinner at the Basilica Palladiana, and a beautiful dinner in Padua at the end of the show. Ah, Italy.

I was also invited to join a group of editors from the States for dinner in nearby Venice. It was a classic evening of pasta, red wine, and laughter. Sadly, just as we were wrapping up, the evening was shattered by the news of the -passing of Cindy Edelstein (most of you know Cindy as our industry’s preeminent finder and promoter of fresh designer talent).  

Cindy’s passing rocked this industry in a way that revealed the amazing impact she made. Her death also revealed just how interconnected and mutually supportive the people in this business are. Facebook (and every other medium) was flooded with posts that reflected upon her smarts, warmth, and friendships. I have many nonindustry friends who, seeing the many posts on Facebook, were moved by how tight we all are. Cindy would have liked that.

Life and business move on, of course, and soon I was at the Centurion show, where the tributes for Cindy continued apace, with toasts, moments of silence, and even an exhibitor showcase dedicated to a photo collage of Cindy and friends.

The next day took me to Tucson, Ariz., where I was thrilled to see the new, reimagined JCK Tucson. The show beautifully picks up on Tucson Gem Week’s bohemian vibe while providing a sophisticated buying environment. Designer exhibitors such as Todd Reed, Alishan, and Aaron Henry perfectly set the tone for the new show. Huge congrats to JCK’s Katie Dominesey, who had this vision; her boss, Yancy Weinrich; and the entire JCK Tucson team! I can’t wait to see how this show grows.

The biggest highlight of JCK Tucson was the opportunity to moderate a panel following a screening of Sharing the Rough, director Orin Mazzoni’s amazing documentary film about the journey of a gem from its discovery in the mines of East Africa to its purchase as a piece of jewelry. My panel included Mazzoni, Mark Schneider (designer of the piece), and iDazzle blogger Monica Stephenson (who documented the journey to the mine). In the audience were gem cutter Roger Dery (who cut the unique gem); his wife, Ginger; and June Stahl, the woman who bought the final piece.

Beyond the amazing scenery, gems, and finished jewelry, the documentary highlights the role our industry plays in East Africa today. Roger and Ginger’s service work in empowering the locals is moving. Most revealing for me was the love the miners themselves have for the stones. This is their passion too!

Next up are the Hong Kong and Baselworld shows, and the first Jewelry Industry Summit here in New York City. See you all there! 

Top: Enjoying the temperate Tucson weather with JCK’s Katie Dominesey

Smelzer photograph by Michael Falco