Your Field Guide to JCK: Editor’s Letter, June 2015

In the summer of 1999, a fledgling guidebook company called Get Cultured paid me $2,000 to travel around Southeast Asia—from Bangkok to Hanoi to Singapore and back to Bangkok—and write about the region’s sights and sounds. After two months of touring on the skimpiest of budgets, I had filled a stack of notebooks with my chicken scratch, and wrote dozens of (what I hoped were) erudite entries—only to have the company fold before it could publish a single word.

Still, I never lost my fondness for guidebooks. So when our editorial team learned that JCK Las Vegas 2015 was undergoing a dramatic redesign that would see its disparate pavilions united by a new neighborhood-oriented layout, it seemed like a no-brainer to position this issue’s cover story, “Welcome to the JCK Neighborhood,”  as the ultimate guidebook to the show: equal parts information and inspiration.

NOLA good times with JCK Events’ Sarin Bachmann and Yancy Weinrich, BIG’s Ann Arnold, and LGI’s Desiree Hanson

The rest of the issue unfolds as something of a guide to the jewelry industry at this fast-changing, thought-provoking, and, yes, precarious time in retail history. From the challenges facing independent jewelers who hope to pass their businesses on to the next generation (“Secrets to Succession,” by contributor Whitney Sielaff) to the increasingly ubiquitous call for responsible sourcing and how retailers can ensure they’re on-point (“Source Code,” by senior editor Jennifer Heebner) to the state of affairs for e-tailers, many of whom are discovering the value of brick-and-mortar locations (“The Future of E-Tail,” by contributor Martha C. White), we tackle the most salient topics du jour in order to give you a competitive advantage through the next decade and beyond.

As timeliness goes, few subjects feel more relevant than secondhand diamonds, which is why news director Rob Bates delves into the recycling phenomenon that’s turning the diamond trade upside down (“Love for Resale”).

In the midst of so much serious business, there’s levity as well. Contributor ­Daniel P. Smith asks what jewelers can learn from the nation’s most successful food trucks (“Wheels of Fortune”), and senior editor Emili Vesilind curates the essential summer reading list for jewelers (“Shelf Help”).

That’s me with WJA LA president Jen Cullen Williams, Twitter guru Phil Pallen, and Omi Gems’ Niveet Nagpal.

If you ask me, two more books belong on that list. The first is Find a Way, Diana Nyad’s memoir about swimming the treacherous waters between Cuba and Florida, an astonishing story she shared with the American Gem Society crowd at this year’s stellar Conclave in New Orleans (see Millennial Mania in The Big Easy” for more details). And the second is Shut Up and Tweet, a snappy guide to Twitter by social media strategist Phil Pallen, a guest speaker at a recent gathering of the Los Angeles chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association, where I was honored to serve as moderator.

As you make your way around the halls of the JCK show this year, keep your copy of JCK close at hand. Chock-full of directions, advice, and info, it’s got everything you need in a guidebook. And if you’re not on the floor at Mandalay Bay, be sure to follow us at @jckmagazine on Twitter and Instagram, and keep up with the latest news at We’re more than happy to be your virtual tour guides!