JCK 2024; a sublime edition of one of the world’s greatest jewelry trade shows

  • JCK 2024 Highlights:

    • JCK 2024 concluded successfully, reinforcing its status as the premier global event for the jewelry industry.
    • Over 30,000 industry professionals attended, including 17,300 attendees and 1,900 exhibitors.
    • The event took place at The Venetian and The Venetian Expo from May 31 to June 3.
    • Key pavilions and talks opened a day earlier on May 30.

  • Event Features and Security:

    • Enhanced security measures included badge scanning and weapons detection.
    • Positive feedback from attendees on increased security efforts.

  • Education and Keynotes:

    • The JCK Talks education program spanned four days and included new content tracks.
    • The “Social Stage” returned with sessions on content, data, and practical applications.
    • Keynotes featured prominent speakers like Sugar Ray Leonard, Kyle Scheele, and Henry Winkler.

  • Events and Activations:

    • Themed “Love,” the show featured engaging activities like a JCK Chapel, Puppy Love Lounge, Love Lock Fence, and airbrush tattoos.
    • JCK Rocks Tao Beach concert, headlined by Flo Rida, was a major highlight.

  • Corporate Responsibility:

    • The Sustainability Summit addressed future sustainability in the jewelry industry with notable speakers.
    • Focus on inclusion and diversity with emerging BIPOC designers and DEI-focused sessions.

  • Luxury Segment:

    • Celebrated 25 years, offering elevated amenities and experiences.
    • Positive feedback from exhibitors on the show’s ambiance and business opportunities.

  • Trends and Breaking News:

    • Key trends included Y-necklaces, pearls, colorful gems, and gold styles.
    • De Beers announced changes in lab-grown diamonds protection and introduced a new synthetic detector.
    • Platinum Guild International USA launched a new platinum alloy, Inoveo.

  • Plumb Club Partnership:

    • Continued partnership with The Plumb Club for another 7 years.

  • Save the Date for JCK 2025:

    • Scheduled for June 6-9, 2025, with Luxury events from June 4-9, 2025.

 

Colleague David Brough (Jewellery Outlook) in action interviewing Iris van der Veken (Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030)  Next image: Hayley Henning, Rebecca Foerster (Hearts on Fire), Lita Asscher (Asscher Diamonds) and Esther Ligthart.

My Journey to JCK Las Vegas: A Jewel in the Desert

It was still a winter’s day when an invitation dropped into my mailbox. As soon as I saw the sender, I felt a surge of excitement. Once again, I was invited to fly from the Netherlands to Las Vegas to attend one of the world’s biggest jewelry shows in the business-to-business arena!

The Long Journey

On May 29, very early morning, I drove my Beetle to Schiphol Airport and began my long journey. Without a direct flight, the trip took a grueling nineteen hours. Finally, I landed in Vegas, and after a quick shower, I headed straight to the neighboring Wynn Hotel. Due to a knee injury and my exhaustion, I opted for a short taxi ride. The driver, clearly irritated by the brevity of the ride, vented his frustration. As I observed his Gucci hat and matching fanny pack, I wondered why people who might not afford such luxuries still gravitate toward these logo-branded items. This wasn’t a judgment but an observation. The allure of status symbols is powerful, much like in the jewelry and watch industries.

Jewelry, accessories, and fashion items often spark conversation. While status symbols can evoke admiration, they can also elicit smirks. It depends on our perception of the person sporting them. We usually expect a cohesive image that aligns with their perceived status. When something feels off-balance, it catches our attention. Again, this is not a judgment but an observation that helped distract me from the taxi driver’s ranting.

The Sustainability Summit

I hurried to the Wynn Hotel because of a kind invitation from Iris van der Veken. The Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 was hosting its first-ever Sustainability Summit at JCK. I was eager to meet the impressive Marie Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at KERING and Co-Chair of the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030. In an intimate and informal setting, a select group of invitees gathered to engage in meaningful conversations, meet Marie-Claire, and enjoy some delightful pescatarian cuisine. The absence of meat was a welcome feature for me, as I am a pescatarian. The Sustainability Summit at JCK was held the next day, and despite disappointing attendance, it was a masterclass in storytelling and an insightful, important event highlighting where the future of the jewelry industry is going. This is where true leadership is shown, and crucial information is shared. 

Esther & Elle Hill (Hill & Co), Tracey Eliison during the Diamonds Do Good award, received a bracelet from Eddie LeVian. Entry of the LUXURY

First Impressions of JCK 2024

My first day started around 9:30 a.m. I headed towards the tradeshow, which conveniently takes place in the same building. I even watched over the convention center from my room, with the enchanting, ever-changing Sphere on the horizon. Entering the Press Room started with the usual Hiiiii’s and hugs. After another cup of coffee (I had fetched my first at one of the Starbucks inside the hotel; I couldn’t believe I lined up to get a coffee and only walked back 25 minutes later to my room with a cappuccino, where the employees couldn’t stop telling me it was very very small (regular European size;-))), I headed towards the Luxury Show. This is an invite-only part of JCK, where high-end brands and stunning gemstone jewelry brands are exhibited. During my days at JCK, I talked to several exhibitors who told me they are making a case to be able to show at Luxury next year simply because the association with this particular show in the show department is that good.

Esther & Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri (President of CIBJO- The World Jewellery Confederation)

Exploring the Show

For someone who has never visited the show, JCK is the biggest jewelry trade show on the American continent and, as far as I know, the second biggest show after Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong, with 1,900 exhibitors. The show has different areas, such as the Plum Club and Gems and Luxury. Also, you can find areas dedicated to exhibitors from other countries, such as the Spanish, Turkish, or Italian areas. There are two levels, and downstairs, there are many direct sales from low-end products, fashion jewelry (as in demi-fine or nonprecious metals or stones jewelry), and more.

One can find stones from Sri Lanka, Bijoux from Spain, lab-grown or natural diamonds, and lots of jewelry, to give you an example. Are you looking for something particular? Rest assured, you’ll find it here! Weirdly enough, there is a competing show in the hotel next door called Couture. It’s also a beautiful show with international brands and designers, but you won’t find wholesale or middle-low entry jewelry exhibitors. Another show featuring antique and vintage jewelry is held at that hotel (Wynn).

The spectacular view from my room, the convention center just below, and the Sphere in the background.

Visiting a show as a press/influencer takes a different approach than visiting it as a retailer. We go around to network, listen, and observe. We take time to take pictures and listen to peers and other industry professionals to gain insights and information. We also attend many more talks and events than retailers, as these places are essential for networking and gaining the latest insights. I only had a little time to visit Couture and no time at all to see the antique jewelry show.

From left to right: Hayley Hayley Jeannel de Thiersant (Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030), Dennis W. Campbell, Dwight P. Robinson Jr. Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, Iris van der Veken (Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030) Pamela Bernstein Gulla (Hill & Co), Hayley Henning, Esther Ligthart (Bizzita.com) and Monica Stephenson (Anza Gem & iDazzle)

Insider Tips for Retailers

Shows like JCK Las Vegas are big and can be overwhelming, even for the veterans among us. So the most important thing for a jewelry retailer is to list the Must-Visits, Want Visits, and Hopefully Attend Visits beforehand. And build in time for proper breaks (most forget this, but it is a lot of walking and a lot of talking).

I would suggest to any retailer, though, to build in more time to attend a Sustainability Summit (to see where your industry is heading and to ask the leaders in this field what is required and desired right now as a retailer!) or to attend the many social talks, where influencers or PR people give some tips and tricks away. Listen to this, but my biggest tip would be: ASK QUESTIONS!

Far too few people raise their hand while this is the moment to ask questions such as: How do I find the right influencer, and how can I check she/he has real followers? How can I make posting easier? How do I gain more followers? How, what, where… Raise your hand!

The Essence of JCK

The JCK show inspired me hugely—the jewelry and the people. Americans are far better at engaging in conversation during a show. Contact is easier, and people are generally more open to sharing and showing jewelry and their stories. Most exhibitors are happy to see the press interested in their jewelry (which is a problem in other countries at times).

I also met a jeweler from Italy at the airport. He told me he goes to Vegas almost every year. He runs multiple stores in the center of Italy and said having other suppliers than the other jewelers gives him an advantage. Understandably so, but it is a significant investment both in time and money to visit a show like Vegas from different countries. He said: every time I come back, I know it was worth it.

A Broader Perspective

When we stare constantly at our own belly buttons (Dutch Expression) and look only at what the neighbors are doing, we will not grow. If we visit only national shows, our eyes and minds will not open more widely.

Besides the many appointments, I took time on my last day to roam without an agenda. I wasn’t on the hunt for content but merely observed the people around me. The dancing girl held up a sign, ASK ME, making her work more pleasurable. The gatekeepers at the entrances welcomed me with a big smile. The way many retailers are dressed is—at times—almost shockingly informal (shorts, t-shirts, and open flannel shirts are not an exception. I would never see this in Italy).

I looked at how people move through the paths between the booths, the effect of a busy booth on bypassers, and those with empty booths trying to be still engaged.

The Press Room Pulse

The press room is filled with colleagues and their actions toward each other. Who is the influencer to watch? I met with someone from the New Jeweller who gave me a beautiful compliment about an article I had written in autumn. So gracious and kind!

In everything, I listen to how others experience the show to get an idea of its pulse and vibe. I can share this with you: people LOVE JCK! For some, it’s the moment they meet their clients in real life again; for others, it’s the information, the jewelry, and the insights they gain. For influencers, it’s where they gain customers and create content for them. For retailers, it’s the place to meet suppliers and seek new things. How is the diamond market going? Should you invest in more lab-grown? What do peers say?

A Jewel of an Experience

JCK does a fantastic job creating so many events where knowledge can be shared and people can meet in real life, exchange ideas, and network. It offers platforms to leaders, such as the stage interview with the president of Botswana or the Sustainability Summit. JCK is a beautiful show, a platform that seeks to unite people, businesses, and jewelry, and it does a fantastic job at that.

Even if you read this and are not based in the US, I recommend visiting this show, even if just once. It will be worth your time and money, I promise!

With Eddie LeVian of LeVian Jewelry

Thank you to JCK for having me, Sarin Bachman, and her team; they are doing a fantastic job. Thanks to Jen Cullen Williams and Nicole Wong of the LuxuryBrandGroup for all the information and hands-on guidance. It hasn’t gone unnoticed! Thanks to all of you! And, of course, to everyone I connected with and shared a meal or a coffee with. You all inspire me so much!

Trends I Observed:

Color!

Paraiba Tourmalines, Sapphires in all colors, Opals, green Diamonds, Tsavorites, Spinel, Moonstone—you name it, we saw it! The appreciation of colored gemstones has been rising for years and isn’t stopping anytime soon. With gold prices rising, it is also interesting to see how designers and brands use other materials, such as gemstones. Perhaps this trend reflects our growing love for nature and realizing how much it is worth and essential for our future. The vibrant greens mirror our desire for a greener, more sustainable world. 

Green and Greener

Green gems like Paraiba tourmalines and emeralds are popular, but so is being green. The emphasis on sustainability in the jewelry industry is a trend and a movement. Every jewelry summit or trade show hosts panels on sustainability. The Sustainability Summit at JCK was widely announced but sparsely attended, which was a pity. Nevertheless, the insights shared by participants like Marie-Claire Daveu from KERING were invaluable. These discussions highlight the industry’s commitment to becoming greener, shining a light on this magnificent color and its symbolic value.

Pearls are the new normal

Pearls have been making news in the past year, breaking gender barriers along the way. The pearl jewelry I saw was gorgeous but no longer groundbreaking. And that’s perfect, as a broader and younger audience has found their way to pearls.

Animal Themes all around

Almost every booth carried a few animal-themed pieces. The butterfly is always a success, but I noticed some more daring designs from companies that generally focus on traditional designs. Animal-themed jewelry is finding its way into a younger generation, representing a conscious attitude toward the planet.

The Diamond Industry

The Diamond industry is struggling.

Although the diamond world often sees its industry as synonymous with the jewelry industry, it is not. There has been much debate in recent years, with the finger pointing towards lab-grown diamond production. Some joined the movement, and some kept fighting it. Claims about how good or bad natural or lab-grown diamonds were flew back and forth.

And voices, such as Martin Rapaport, kept fueling the debate with claims that made it clear that he and many others did not understand what jewelry for the end-consumer really means. By holding on, almost desperately, to the claim that only a natural diamond reflects how much someone loves you (repeating the decades-long campaign of De Beers and their clever marketing around engagement rings and the two-month salary invention), he showed another group how much out of touch the diamond industry can also be.

Young people today face another world; buying a home, paying off their tuition, buying inventory for a home, and everything else costs a lot of money. Women are not (in most cases) homemakers that rely on their husband’s income; young couples today face the adventure economically together. So the choice for a less expensive engagement ring, while still showing some bling, can be lab-grown diamonds. A large group also considers the effect of mining on the planet or is worried about the people in mines (which, in the case of artisanal mining, is more than logical). They may overestimate the sustainability of lab-grown diamonds, but the fact is that lab-grown diamonds have found their way to the market.

The other thing is that natural diamonds are struggling and might need a new narrative. When I go to a show, I see almost only beautiful images of elephants and happy, smiling kids. I get their point; see how much the mines give back. Yet, the final consumer makes no connection between an elephant and a diamond. Bluntly said. And a young generation, growing up with so much digital access to information in all shapes and forms, tend to have a sharp bullshit radar. They smell green hushing or greenwashing miles ahead. The narrative needs changing.

”Having given my subjective POV, fact is just that natural diamonds are struggling. As one diamond dealer told me, “The industry should learn from other luxury industries how to change the narrative and become aspirational.”

Highlights

One of the highlights for me was the Diamonds Do Good Award evening. It was a much more significant event than last year, and once again, we, as press, were generously hosted by Eddie LeVian, who also bought us the limited edition bracelets auctioned to raise money. So kind and so lovely.

Another highlight for me was the Sustainability Summit at JCK. Although not well attended, I am fully committed to the idea that we need to prepare our industry for the future, and I love the insights so generously shared by all the participants.

Alessandro Gessini (Nomination) Duval O’Steen (Luxury Brand Group) and Iris van der Veken and Esther

The Natural Diamond Council café. This was the first time a bar outside the show was hired and accessible by invite only; it made such a good place for networking, having an interview, and, let’s be honest, a nice drink.

My peers and industry friends. From Tracey Ellison to David Brough, Giovanni Micera, Agata Janowiak, Hayley Henning, Frank Proctor, Duvall O’Steen, Iris van der Veken, Gaetano Cavalieri, Shohista, Preerna, Lita Asscher, and so many others, you all made the show so enjoyable. I appreciate your roles within the industry so much! 

Final Thoughts

JCK is more than just a trade show; it’s a hub of innovation, networking, and inspiration. Whether you’re a retailer, an influencer, or an end consumer, there’s something at JCK for everyone. From the latest trends in jewelry to invaluable insights from industry leaders, JCK Las Vegas is a must-visit.

Thank you to everyone who made this experience unforgettable. I look forward to seeing what next year has in store! Thank you to Frank Proctor, Jen Cullen Williams, and Nicole Wong.

And, of course, thank you to Sarin Bachmann and her team at JCK for having me! It is an honor and a privilege to visit a jewelry show such as JCK. Thank you so much.

Esther

 

 

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