Publisher’s Notes

A recent jewelers’ forum sponsored by GIA evolved into a heated discussion of what effect the Internet will have on the industry. Not surprisingly, the panelists’ opinions ran the gamut: from “let’s face it, a lot of business is going to be done in cyberspace” to “it may be useful for browsing, but the Internet can never replace personal, face-to-face contact between buyers and sellers.”

Some of the retailers expressed concern that a growing number of suppliers will bypass them, using the Internet for direct access to consumers. Others, however, said they look forward to expanding their market boundaries and building sales through their own World Wide Web sites on the Internet. There was no question about the underlying issue of the debate: does technology portend great changes in the way retailers and suppliers do business? Or as one forum speaker asked, “will the Internet simply open the door to one more niche market for jewelry sales — taking its place alongside the TV home shopping networks, catalog merchants, wholesale clubs and the like?”

For sure, the Internet is here to stay. Undoubtedly, it will continue to spawn new sales opportunities. The challenge for traditional jewelry retailers is to find ways to embrace them to strengthen their own market niche — or niches.

Those of us on the publishing side of our industry face a similar challenge. Cyber-technology is changing the way we do business also.It certainly will affect how we deliver industry news and statistics to you in the years ahead. Moreover, it will create some new industry and market niches for us to fill.

Even now, you can go to JCK’s Web site through Polygon for some basic services. And very soon, you’ll be able to retrieve information electronically from the JCKDirectory, the JCKShow Guides and the Jewelers’Almanac. JCK can be reached at http://www.polygon.net/jck.The user name is “industry” and the password is “leader.”

Some months ago, a volunteer team of JCK staffers accepted the mission to determine how we should move forward to establish a truly dominant place in the electronic media. The group’s report identified some exciting new ways for us to draw on JCK’s substantial research, marketing and editorial databases to serve you in the future.

Yes, we are eager to launch into cyberspace. At the same time, we’re going to keep our feet firmly on the ground. The new technology will expand many of our traditional reader services, and you may find logging in and clicking through our electronic pages quite worthwhile. But we see nothing on the horizon that will change the need for print on paper, nor substitute for the old-fashioned value of reading, rereading, marking up, tearing out, passing along and retaining “real” copies of JCK and its related publications.And you can do it all without a modem.