Hotel CaliforniaJune 13, 19
A week after the Las Vegas gem and jewelry shows closed, it is clear that in general it was a "a slow show." Foot traffic was definitely down at JCK, and also reportedly at Couture. Traffic at the Collective was disappointing, as well as at the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association. Diamond companies in the national pavilions of Belgium, India, Israel and the US received what they expected. The diamond market, like the weather, was relatively cool, with lots of pressure and bargaining by the buyers.
Can one measure the mood at a show? Certainly, as long as you talk to lots of people. I personally felt that the general mood was rather "forgiving;" and much better than the reality on the ground warranted.
JCK's move to the Sands Expo was lauded in spite of the need for exhibitors and visitors alike to re-orientate themselves and to use the JCK app or paper maps to navigate the floors. Exhibitors on the lower floor complained about the low ceilings and the ensuing stuffy atmosphere. On the other hand, those in the AGTA pavilion at The Collective were pleased with the excellent roomy layout of the show, and like most of the gem and jewelry companies I spoke to, expressed their hope that next year, business would pick up again.
For me, personally, it was exciting to be back in Vegas after a two-year absence. No worries, no single-arm bandit has ever seen me inserting a quarter into its inner works, nor did anything happen that should remain in Vegas.
At JCK, and at other shows, it was exciting to see the industry at work, with folks in conversation and doing business with downstream constituents.
It was satisfying to see and hear that jewelry manufacturers and retail chains are becoming aware of sustainability issues, and now understand that corporate social responsibility policies can become value-adding means and tools that can improve a company's bottom line. (In last week's Memo, I wrote about Lisa Bridges and Ben Bridges Jewelers in this respect.)
But I was most relieved to find that in our industry, relationships are still the foundation on which so many of our constituents have built their businesses and continue to sustain and grow them. It's these relationships that imbue these same businesspeople - suppliers and buyers - with the belief and confidence that things will turn around again.
For me, as an industry spokesman, consultant, strategist, and since the beginning of this year, editor of IDEX Online and its monthly magazine, it was great to meet so many traders, colleagues, friends and acquaintances who all, in one way or another, informed after my well-being and professional developments.
On the last day, walking the AGTA show at The Collective, a colored gemstone dealer and long-time friend with whom I have traveled the world during my many years in the that wonderful industry, asked the same question, noting he had not seen me for while?!
And then, I thought I heard myself say: You know, this industry is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!