Tours of Beauty, Editor’s Letter, September 2013

My twin sister, Julia, is in the midst of setting up her own business, a custom illustration service called Drawn for You. She’s always had a knack for making charming, funny, and true-to-life drawings of her friends and our family, and after her personalized greeting cards started to earn a following, she decided to make a go of it professionally.

I’ve been full of encouragement, not only because I know how happy it makes her to create art for people but also because I recognize she’s on to a savvy business idea—borrowed straight from the pages of trend forecasters and future-thinking marketing consultants. But don’t just take my word for it.

“Customization and personalization rank among the millennial generation’s most sought-after attributes” is one of the takeaways in senior editor (and resident futurist) Emili Vesilind’s enlightening feature “Great Retail Expectations,” which covers the physical and digital innovations that are a part of the coming—or should I say ongoing?—retail revolution. Fascinating stuff!

For those of you still adjusting to the demands of the present, which—need we remind you—require not only a great website, but also a completely ­optimized (or “responsive” in Web-design lingo) mobile site, read every last word of “How Jewelers Can Revamp Their Websites Without Breaking the Bank,” Emili’s second piece for this issue. It’ll save you tons of time and money and, we suspect, a good deal of sanity.

This custom card from Drawn for You ( was the perfect gift for my friends’ wedding last month.

Elsewhere in this, our annual “Future of Retail” issue (my favorite of all our themed issues), you’ll find another feature very much rooted in the here and now. We asked a few members of JCK’s editorial staff (including yours truly) to mystery shop a retail store and report back on the experience, warts and all. Luckily, we all encountered more good than bad, although we did make a few critical observations—see for yourself in “5 Jewelry Stores Are Put to the Test by JCK’s Mystery Shoppers.”

Speaking of tours, you’re sure to love “Golden Pearls Are Growing More Popular With Consumers,” senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s envy-inducing account of her journey to the Philippines, where she learned all about the delightful yet all-too-often disregarded golden pearl and the boutique producer who’s making a big effort to bring it to the attention of America’s leading jewelers.

After all, pearls are this season’s undisputed belles of the ball. If you don’t believe me, admire the beauties we photographed in “Good-Time Pearl Jewelry,” our classiest and most cutting-edge pearl still life ever.

Pearls, truth be told, were my first love in this business. In the summer of 2000, I visited a pearl farm off the coast of Australia’s Northern Territories to write a story about how South Sea pearls made their way from the Arafura Sea to the auctions in Hong Kong, and, finally, to your showcases. The experience turned me on to the enigmatic beauty of the jewelry trade—and here I am 13 years later, still singing its praises.

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