What’s going on here?

The past couple of months have been the most turbulent in JCK’s 128-year life. Briefly, here’s what’s happened – and if you’ve already been flooded with “facts,” please bear with me.

In early September, the former publisher, Charlie Bond, led many editors and salespeople out of JCK and into a new organization called Bond Communications. This group will launch a new jewelry publication next year and, according to some of its members, plans to launch two new national jewelry shows, with the first coming in 1999.

If you ask these people why they’ve followed such a radical course, they’ll give you a number of reasons. Frankly, I think I’ve heard all of them and I’m not impressed, though at least I understand those who say they hope to make more money. Knowing something of their plans – and none of the facts I’ll discuss were given in confidence – about a month before these former staffers made their move I wrote to Charlie urging him not to proceed with his plans. Two things the industry does not need, I said, are another magazine and another show. I got no reply.

The scope of the walkout had the potential to threaten short-term damage to JCK, its shows and its related International Diamond Publications magazines. Thus when Rick Bay, the vice president to whom Charlie Bond reported and who now also is JCK’s publisher, asked my wife Debbie and me for help we offered to leave the retirement we started last year, after a combined 58 years with JCK, and come back to help the operation get through this difficult time. Our goal is to replenish the staff with new and talented editors and correspondents, give support to the business side of the publication where we can and, when life gets back to normal, hopefully within the next six months or so – retire again!

I’m happy to report that with Rick Bay leading the effort, JCK already is rebuilding rapidly and well. Editorially, we have a strong base with three non-defectors – Russ Shor, Bill Shuster and Hedda Schupak – all of whom are established as perceptive, informed industry analysts and writers. We’ve already hired two new editors and expect to fill the other empty slots within the next few weeks. We’re delighted that such distinguished columnists as John Kennedy of the Jewelers Security Alliance, Rich Drucker, publisher of Gemworld International, and Elly Rosen, a premier appraiser, all are committed to continue and, if necessary, expand their JCK editorial connections. We expect to add some other fine correspondents shortly.

Rick Bay is rebuilding the sales staff just as quickly. He’s already named two new staffers for the West Coast and is finalizing the hiring of other salespeople who will join Bill Furman and Joy Englebert, two veterans who did not quit. As on the editorial side, the goal is to seek out quality.

Plans also are progressing well for the JCK shows. As in the past, JCK will continue its strong involvement with the Orlando and Las Vegas shows, working with Reed Exhibition companies – a group that includes the key show management team which has worked with JCK since the first Las Vegas event in 1992. Reed is a unit of our new parent company, Reed Elsevier, which in September finalized an agreement to buy JCK and other properties in the Chilton group from the Walt Disney Co. While Reed is not new to jewelry shows (it already runs three, two in Japan and one in England), its principals understand that getting to know the U.S. jewelry business will take time. They assure us that they plan to do everything they can to work smoothly with exhibitors and buyers so that the mood will be “business as usual.” In fact, pre-registration for the Orlando show is ahead of last year at this date.

This is a difficult editorial to write because I worked for so many years with a number of these former colleagues and the Bond walkout may from time to time pit friend against friend. This is sad. But those of us who are standing with JCK have no doubts where our loyalties lie. I also want to set the record straight and defuse any false gossip you may have heard.

My message is that JCK and its related operations are alive and well and the magazine continues to be dedicated to our unchanging goal: to help jewelers run their businesses more profitably and more efficiently. The only difference you’ll see in JCK is that in the months ahead it will be more helpful and more useful than ever before.

That’s a promise.