The Jewelry District show

The Jewelry District

Summary: A podcast by JCK Magazine and JCKonline about industry news, trends, interviews, weird stories, and more!

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 Episode 73: George Holmes, LVMH and Lusix, and Russian Diamonds | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:25:39

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) discuss former JCK editor-in-chief George Holmes’ legacy, LVMH's investment in Lusix, and Russian diamonds and Ukrainian jewelers.Show Notes00:30 Victoria and Rob remember former JCK editor-in-chief George Holmes13:51 Victoria reports on the state of the industry17:15 Rob reports on LVMH’s investment in Lusix20:03 Victoria and Rob talk about Russian diamonds and Ukrainian jewelersEpisode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapRemembering George HolmesGeorge Holmes, JCK’s former editor-in-chief of 22 years, died last month (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/jck-editor-george-holmes-dies/). Victoria describes his as a legendary editor. Rob talks about his time working with him and says he was gracious and intelligent with unyielding editorial integrity. Victoria and Rob share an audio clip from an earlier podcast (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/podcast-jewelry-district-ep-4/) of Joe Thompson speaking about George Holmes.State of the IndustryVictoria discusses a Jewelers Board of Trade webinar with its president, Erich Jacobs. He showed graphs on consumer sentiment, confidence, unemployment rates, and more. Erich says unemployment is linked to consumer satisfaction—if unemployment is low, generally consumer confidence is high. Now, we’re seeing a break from this. We have record low unemployment and low consumer confidence. Victoria says retailers may feel a little pinch in their bottom line, as consumers aren’t using credit cards as much.LVMH and Lab-Grown DiamondsRob comments on the lab-grown space and LVMH Luxury Holdings' investment in Lusix, an Israeli lab-grown diamond company. LVMH is not being shy about its investment—but this investment raises questions. Rob believes LVMH wants Lusix to scale with more persistent production. Victoria asks if the luxury sector is finally ready to accept lab-grown diamonds, and Rob isn’t sure.Russian DiamondsVictoria asks what’s happening in the world of Russian diamonds, and Rob says there are rumors in the industry about banks in Europe not wanting to fund Russian diamond shipments. Rob says the big companies have figured out a way to get diamonds back on the market after a slow run for Russian diamonds. On the flip side, Victoria has spoken to many Ukrainian jewelers, and her takeaway was their commitment to improving the industry and getting attention for Ukrainian jewelers in the market.

 Episode 72: JCK Show Takeaways and Interviews | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:35:35

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) share their post–JCK show takeaways and the interviews they conducted live on the JCK show floor.Show Notes00:30 Rob and Victoria share their takeaways from the JCK show09:30 Victoria interviews Jewelers Mutual Group’s chief content executive, Mark Smelzer11:00 Victoria interviews Stuller CEO Matt Stuller13:40 Rob interviews Craig Underwood of Underwoods Fine Jewelers17:00 Rob interviews Feriel Zerouki of De Beers20:18 Rob interviews Steve Coe, CEO of Lightbox Jewelry25:40 Victoria interviews Yuliya Kusher, CEO of Meylor Global29:26 Victoria interviews Manos Phoundoulakis of EZEC31:23 Rob interviews Jeff Corey, former owner of Day’s Jewelers, now currently the vice president of marketingEpisode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapJCK Show TakeawaysVictoria and Rob comment on how amazing the JCK show was this year. Rob says the mood and attendance were really strong and how the jewelry industry has been on a high the past two years. Some people even told Rob it was their best show ever. Others came to the show for the first time—a great reminder of why we have in-person shows. There was some awareness of inflation at the show. Victoria also mentions orange emerging as a hot color in jewelry.Mark SmelzerVictoria interviews Jewelers Mutual Group’s chief content executive, Mark Smelzer. Mark used to be the publisher of JCK, and Victoria asks what it's like to be on the other side of the JCK show experience. Mark comments on the overall energy at the show, and that it’s great to see sales happening at every booth.Matt StullerMatt Stuller, CEO of Stuller, is excited to be at the show. Victoria comments on how busy the Stuller booth is. Victoria asks about its innovations this year. Victoria loves its permanent bracelet stand. Victoria asks how business has been so far this year, and Matt says business has been very strong. Everyone is cautiously optimistic.Craig UnderwoodRob mentions how Craig Underwood of Underwoods Fine Jewelers has just won the Robert M. Shipley Award, and Craig says they’re still on the high from receiving that award. Rob asks what they’re seeing at the show so far, and Craig says he’s loving the energy. Rob asks if Craig thinks this is going to be a great holiday, and Craig says yes—he’s cautiously optimistic.Feriel ZeroukiFeriel Zerouki, who won the Diamonds Do Good Next Gen Award at the show, is the senior vice president of corporate affairs for De Beers. Rob asks about Feriel’s involvement with the Responsible Jewellery Council, and Feriel says despite some problems recently, there’s also been great progress. Rob asks about the JCK show, and Feriel says it’s going well.Steve CoeRob asks Steve Coe, the CEO of Lightbox Jewelry, how things have progressed with Lightbox, which created shock waves in the industry when it first released its lab-grown jewelry line. Steve says 25% of their buyers are repeat customers. Rob notes how Lightbox expects to be using 100% renewable energy by the end of 2022, and Steve says it is making great progress on that.

 Episode 71: Steven Kaiser, Recycled Gold, And JCK Las Vegas | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:24:29

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) discuss Steven Kaiser’s passing, the Oak collection watch event at London’s Design Museum, De Beers' blockchain platform, recycled gold, and the JCK Las Vegas show.Show Notes00:30 Victoria and Rob give their condolences to the family of Steven Kaiser.05:25 Victoria recounts her visit to London’s Design Museum to see the Oak collection.13:40 Rob explains De Beers' blockchain technology.16:22 Rob is concerned with recycled gold and what the term actually means.21:09 Victoria and Rob are excited for JCK Las Vegas!Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapSteven KaiserVictoria and Rob give their condolences to the family of Steven Kaiser. The industry titan passed away (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/steven-kaiser-connector-dies/) a week before recording this podcast. He was feted at 24 Karat Weekend in March. He was a "connecter" and, as Rob reports, very good at smoothing things over. The jewelry industry mourns his passing, and he will be deeply missed at JCK Las Vegas this week.The Oak CollectionVictoria was one of 65 journalists invited to London in late May to attend an event at the Design Museum. There, she saw the Oak (one-of-a-kind) collection. The Oak's owner, Patrick Getreide, has been collecting watches for 40 years. He has more than 600 of them (heavy on Patek Phillipe and Rolex), and 130 of them were on display for just one week. Victoria said the event felt like the gilded age of watches. Rob briefly mentions the Apple Watch and its effect on the watch industry.De Beers' BlockchainRob talks about De Beers and its blockchain technology (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/de-beers-all-diamonds-trackable/). Basically, Rob says, it’s a way to track diamonds through the chain in a trade-facing, rather than consumer-facing, manner. De Beers says it can trace all of its diamonds of 1 carat and above and believes it can scale this technology. Rob says this technology has been a long time coming, and De Beers has the most ambitious technology out of everyone trying their hand at it.What Is Recycled Gold?Rob recently wrote a story (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/just-what-is-recycled-gold/) on recycled gold, and Victoria asks what prompted him to write it. Rob says he was recently part of a webinar about recycled gold, and it made him consider what recycled gold really is. As it turns out, there are many definitions if recycled gold—including the one the Federal Trade Commission uses: something that would otherwise go in the trash. The problem is, gold isn’t thrown out. Rob talks about why labeling anything as recycled gold is a problem and why the industry should start being clearer on what recycled gold really is.JCK Las VegasVictoria and Rob’s schedules are packed for JCK Las Vegas (http://lasvegas.jckonline.com). All of the events are back on, there’s tons of excitement, and Victoria is hoping for some good weather (not too hot!). From what Victoria understands, there is a great need to restock, which will make for a great show. JCK will be giving talks from the JCK stage and various educational classrooms.

 Episode 70: Guest Sarin Bachmann On JCK Las Vegas | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:26:49

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Sarin Bachmann, group vice president of RX Jewelry Group at Reed Exhibitions. They'll be discussing JCK Las Vegas 2022 and all that you can expect at the 30th anniversary of the show, which runs June 10–13.Show Notes00:30 Victoria and Rob welcome their guest Sarin Bachmann, group vice president of RX Group at Reed Exhibitions.5:33 Sarin explains the layout of this year's show.10:35 Rob asks about the education and entertainment lineup at the show.16:32 Rob asks Sarin what she does to get ready for the show.23:55 Sarin gives hot tips for your time at the show.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapIntroducing Sarin BachmannVictoria and Rob welcome their guest Sarin Bachmann, group vice president of Reed Jewelry Group. She’s here to talk about the JCK show. The Luxury show opens June 8, and JCK Las Vegas kicks off on June 10. Sarin then tells how she got into the jewelry industry. She started off by working as a consultant, and one of her clients was Reed Exhibitions. She ended up leaving to work for Reed. She loves the jewelry industry, and knew she eventually wanted to run the jewelry shows. She particularly loves the passion in this industry.The JCK Show LayoutVictoria briefly asks about Yancy Weinrich, Sarin's predecessor as head of the Reed Jewelry Group. Yancy recently left RX, and now is a president of another trade show company. Sarin then pivots to talking about this year’s show. She says the layout is going to be similar to how things were in 2019 (i.e., having Luxury back on level 2). Sarin is excited for international visitors to be back at the show. New this year will be a pavilion called The Shops for gifts for retailers to fill out their stores. JCK swag will be available there as well.Education and EntertainmentRob asks about the education and entertainment lineup, and Sarin gives the full rundown, including sessions on sustainability, trends, digital marketing, NFTs, and much more. All programs will be back, including a visit from the cast of the musical Hamilton in a private performance with an after-party to follow. Victoria asks what Sarin is looking most forward to, and she says she’s looking forward to all the photo and video opportunities on the floor. She’s also looking forward to the show’s 30th-anniversary celebration happening on Saturday.Getting Ready for the ShowRob asks what Sarin does to get ready for the show—Sarin says packing! She’s out there for 10 or 11 nights, and the act of packing gets her excited for the show. Sarin says she’s not nervous, but there’s always some anxiety leading up to the show, especially for her own speech. She also says she never gets tired in Vegas, she’s always excited and ready to go to the show. Victoria plugs the newest issue of JCK, which includes a guide to new Vegas attractions. Victoria and Sarin both mention where they think you can get the best lunch in town.Hot TipsRob asks Sarin what her average JCK show day is like. Sarin says she saves checking out jewelry for the last day. Rob asks what she'd advise to those on the fence about coming to the JCK show,

 Episode 69: Watches and Wonders, AGS, and Russian Diamonds | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:27:53

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk about Watches and Wonders Geneva, the AGS Conclave, and Russian diamonds.Show Notes00:30 Victoria recaps her experience as a guest of Breitling ahead of Watches and Wonders.11:00 Victoria fills us in on her experience at Watches and Wonders.17:09 Rob was at the AGS Conclave and tells us how that went.21:49 Victoria and Rob express excitement for JCK Las Vegas; Rob talks about Russian diamonds.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapBreitling MarketingVictoria went to Watches and Wonders Geneva, where she was a guest of Breitling. Known for its aviation watches, the company invited journalists and watch experts to Zurich ahead of Watches and Wonders to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its Navitimer, introduced in 1952. George Kern, CEO of Breitling, came down to give a speech and boarded the same plane as Victoria, and everyone flew to Geneva. On the plane, all of the new watches were passed around.Watches and WondersVictoria says Watches and Wonders was a good show with a lot of excitement and optimism. She also noticed a lot of travel-themed watches. Rob asks if there was a lot of talk about smartwatches, and Victoria says no. She believes that smartwatches may have ignited a larger interest in watches in general even when they’re not present themselves. She also mentions a new mechanical watch she picked up at the show, and one brand, TAG Heuer, that’s using lab-grown diamonds in its watches.AGS ConclaveRob was just at the AGS Conclave in Oklahoma City. Victoria asks if lab-grown was a big theme there, and Rob says it was a theme, but not a major one. A lot of the discussion around lab-grown diamonds was about making sure you’re not accidentally buying a lab-grown when you believe you’re buying natural. A big topic at AGS was Russian diamonds and the reputational issues around buying and selling them. Rob says the mood at AGS was a good, and this event was one of its most highly attended Conclaves. There were sessions on sustainability and the verbiage around sustainability as well as origin and tracing.Russian DiamondsVictoria mentions anticipation for JCK Las Vegas. Rob and Victoria are both looking forward to the event and want to meet with people in person rather than virtually. To end the podcast, Victoria asks Rob about Russian diamonds. The U.S. sanctions have been a big hit to Alrosa, which is one- third owned by the Russian government. There aren’t many newly mined diamonds on the market. A lot of people are paying attention to traceability and sourcing.

 Episode 68: Guest Ziad Ahmed | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:27:08

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Ziad Ahmed, CEO of JUV Consulting, a New York City–based firm that advises companies on how to market to Gen Z.Show Notes00:30 Victoria and Rob introduce their guest Ziad Ahmed, CEO of JUV Consulting06:02 Rob asks what characteristics define Gen Z14:30 Victoria asks about non-digital experiences and purpose-led brands, while Rob asks about how Gen Zers feel about marketing18:45 Rob asks how Gen Z views the luxury category21:27 Victoria asks how Gen Zers are now buying jewelryEpisode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.jckonline.com/), JUV Consulting (https://www.juvconsulting.com/)Show RecapIntroducing Ziad AhmedVictoria and Rob introduce their guest Ziad Ahmed, CEO of JUV Consulting, a New York City–based firm that advises companies on how to market to Gen Z. Gen Z is defined as people who were born between 1997 and 2012. Ziad was born and raised in Princeton, N.J., in an American-Muslim household. In eighth grade, he started a nonprofit, a by-teens, for-teens organization that make community and schools more operative and inclusive. In high school, he started JUV Consulting, as he believed diverse young people should have a seat at the table.What Makes Gen-Z Rob asks what Ziad relies on for the information he’s tapped into on Gen Z, and Ziad reports that it’s a mix of survey data, in-depth research, and more. Victoria asks what kind of clients JUV works with, and Ziad says it ranges from Fortune 500s to startups to local campaigns to nonprofits. Ziad shares some of the clients that he’s been proud to work with. Rob asks the key characteristics that define Gen Z, and Ziad says Gen Z has grown up in the digital age, with social media as a language that they’re fluent in that allows them to find community. Victoria asks which platforms are essential, and Ziad thinks TikTok is the platform of the moment where celebrities are made overnight.Gen Z and Digital Experiences, Sustainability, and MarketingVictoria is interested in Ziad’s non-digital experiences, and Ziad explains how non-digital and digital experiences are blended. She then asks how Gen Z views the marketplace and how they want to shop, and if purpose-led brands are important to Gen Zers. Ziad says the American market has the capital to spend a little extra on purpose-led brands. Ziad believes we will continue to raise the bar on what sustainability looks like. Rob asks what turns Gen Zers off or what comes across as tone-deaf, and Ziad says that most marketing is cringe-inducing, and that’s why JUV consulting exists.How Gen Z Views LuxuryRob asks about luxury and how Ziad’s generation tends to look at luxury, and Ziad says luxury is in for a rude awakening as a lot of it is antithetical to Gen Z’s values. There are issues around inclusivity, income inequality, and gluttony and excess that are being scrutinized by this generation. Gen Z is concerned with what companies are paying their employees, how stable the supply chain is, and what kind of craftsmanship went into the making of the piece. Gen Z, Ziad says, is concerned with its image, and, like a brand, is trying to create who they are and show what they represent through their purchasing habits.

 Episode 67: Origin Stories | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:25:43

In This EpisodeWe’ve collected the origin stories of some past guests—including that of host and news director Rob Bates—so you can hear the different ways in which people got their start in the industry. You'll hear from Alexander Lacik, Sean Kell, Alexis Padis, Gina Drosos, and Alan Revere.Show Notes00:30 Introducing this week’s podcast02:57 Alexander Lacik, CEO of Pandora06:14 Sean Kell, CEO of Blue Nile09:48 Alexis Padis, president of Padis Jewelry  13:50 Gina Drosos, CEO of Signet Jewelers17:44 Alan Revere, founder of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts22:40 Rob Bates, news director of JCKEpisode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) and Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/)Producer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine, (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Pandora Group (http://www.pandoragroup.com), Blue Nile (https://www.bluenile.com/), Padis Jewelers (https://www.padisgems.com/), Signet Jewelers (https://signetjewelers.com/), Alan Revere (http://www.revereacademy.com/), Rob Bates Author (https://robbatesauthor.com/) Show Recap(https://www.jckonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Alexander-Lacik.jpg)Alexander LacikBefore becoming CEO of Pandora, Alexander worked with a range of brands including Pringles, Vicks, Always, Olay, Pantene, Lysol, Woolite, Head & Shoulders, and more. After moving back to Sweden with his kids, he ended up working with Britax for a while before Pandora knocked on his door. He was excited to work with Pandora because it was a big Scandinavian international brand. Rob asks what the commonalities are between these successful brands.(https://www.jckonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Sean-Kell.jpg)Sean KellSean Kell, CEO of Blue Nile, came from a family who loved jewelry. He started as an engineer, then went into sales before going to business school to study marketing. He also worked at Starbucks, Expedia, and A Place for Mom before finally ending up in the jewelry industry. What attracted him to the industry in the first place: its size, and how it’s difficult for consumers to figure it out—he wants to change the industry to be a little more convenient for shoppers. Blue Nile originally operated solely on the web, but it has since opened brick-and-mortar stores to meet customers where they want to be met.(https://www.jckonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Alexis-Padis.jpg)Alexis PadisAlexis Padis is president of Padis Jewelry in San Francisco. She’s one of four kids, and she’s the only one who ended up joining the family business after spending time in an entirely different industry. She tells the story of how after selling an engagement ring to one couple she decided to make the industry here career. She also explains how her parents got into the industry. Her dad dropped out of medical school to become a jeweler, and met his Alexis’ mom in the industry.(https://www.jckonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Gina-Drosos.jpg)Gina DrososGina Drosos, CEO of Signet Jewelers, says she’s always wanted to work in an industry where she feels as though the product makes a difference in people’s lives.

 Episode 66: Guest Beth Gerstein | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:28:06

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Beth Gerstein, cofounder and CEO of Brilliant Earth.Show Notes00:30 Victoria and Rob introduce their guest Beth Gerstein, cofounder and CEO of Brilliant Earth08:30 Beth explains the importance of sustainability to the consumer14:11 Brilliant Earth offers both lab-grown and natural diamonds—Beth explains the difference19:10 Beth talks about Brilliant Earth’s Fairmined collection23:16 Rob and Victoria wrap up the podcast with discussion of international plans, marketing to Gen Z versus millennials, Russian diamonds, and brick-and-mortar stores and online salesEpisode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: brilliantearth.com (https://www.brilliantearth.com/), jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (http://instagram.com/jckmagazine)Show RecapIntroducing Beth GersteinVictoria and Rob introduce their guest Beth Gerstein, cofounder and CEO of Brilliant Earth in San Francisco. Victoria mentions that Brilliant Earth is really leading the charge on sustainability and ethical sourcing. As always, the JCK editors dive into Beth’s background and how she got into the jewelry industry. Beth grew up in Maryland, and both of her parents worked in government. She studied biomedical engineering and did work launching satellites, but Beth eventually realized her heart was in business and switched industries entirely.The Importance of SustainabilityBeth explains how she developed Brilliant Earth on a set of values revolving around sustainability and ethical sourcing. With diamonds being such an emotional purchase, she believed people would want to know about the sourcing of their stones. She says Brilliant Earth's customers don’t want to compromise on quality, design, or experience—but transparency is extremely important. The company recently released its sustainability report, and she wants the industry to continue to do this difficult work. Beth also confirms that it’s been six months since Brilliant Earth went public. She says it helps them to set clear objectives and have financial discipline.Lab-Grown DiamondsVictoria and Rob have questions for Beth about lab-grown versus mined diamonds, and Beth says that there’s space for both—it opens the market more. Brilliant Earth started offering lab-grown 10 years ago and sees continued success with their sale. As a retailer, she says it's Brilliant Earth's responsibility to be open about its sources for both conflict-free and lab-grown diamonds. Beth says typically the younger shopper tends to gravitate more toward lab-grown diamonds. Victoria asks about a lack of transparency when it comes to lab-grown diamond sourcing.Brilliant Earth’s Fairmined CollectionVictoria asks Beth about Brilliant Earth's new Fairmined gold (https://www.brilliantearth.com/eco-friendly-jewelry/fairmined/) collection, and Beth says she developed the collection with its customers in mind. She’s happy to be able to support artisanal and small-scale miners who are getting a fair price for their gold. She believes Fairmined gold will only grow in popularity. Victoria also asks if Beth goes to shows like JCK—and Beth has met many great suppliers since the first show. Rob asks what the most important thing about building a brand is,

 Episode 65: Diamonds and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:23:15

In This Episode You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk about the industry-related effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and some news from the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA). Note: This episode was recorded a few days before President Biden announced the U.S. ban on imports of Russian diamonds.Show Notes00:00 Victoria and Rob send well wishes to the people of Ukraine affected by the Russian invasion.04:34 Rob discusses the partly Russian government–owned Alrosa.09:51 Victoria predicts the demand of Russian diamonds in years to come.12:40 Much like diamonds, the question of gold sourcing remains as important as ever.19:00 Rob reports on AGTA and Doug Hucker’s departure.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (http://instagram.com/jckmagazine)Show RecapWishing Well to UkraineIn light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Rob and Victoria wish the best for the people of Ukraine. Victoria mentions that she was born in St. Petersburg (Leningrad at the time) and emigrated as part of the Jewish exodus from the Soviet Union in the late '70s. She fears for the repercussions of the sanctions of the Russian people for years to come, but her heart goes out first and foremost to the people of Ukraine.Alrosa and Russian ControlThe conversation pivots to discussion of Alrosa, the biggest diamond producer by volume, responsible for 30% of the world’s diamonds. It's one-third owned by the Russian government, one-third owned by the local Siberian province, and one-third publicly traded. By most standards, Alrosa takes social responsibility and social benefit seriously, meeting all of the current standards in the industry. The fact that Alrosa is directly tied to the Russian government poses a problem for it. Russian diamonds are going to be impacted greatly, Rob predicts. At the end of the day, who ultimately owns and benefits from a company is extremely important.Russian Diamond Demand Victoria brings up a statement made by Martin Rapaport on Russian diamond prices, in which he was clear that he didn’t believe prices would suffer because of the invasion, but because of the resulting inflation of things like gas, which influences consumer demand. Rob and Victoria both believe that the perception of Russian diamonds will be affected for years to come, as people will choose diamonds from other countries over diamonds from Russia.Russian Gold and Lab-Grown Diamonds Victoria wonders about Russian gold—and if Russia will be using gold to fund their regime, a thorny question that is yet to be answered. Who jewelers get their gold from is another question for jewelers to consider as sourcing, vendors, and who owns those vendors remains as important as ever. Rob predicts a bill will be enacted banning the purchase of Russian gold. Victoria predicts a lift in American-mined and -sourced gold because of this. Rob also brings up lab-grown diamonds. Victoria mentions a company in Barcelona, Spain, that markets itself as “mining-free diamonds.” Rob thinks this label is a bit disingenuous since you need mined products to create lab-grown ones.AGTA and Doug HuckerAt the end of the podcast, Victoria pivots to some non-Russian news. Rob wrote a 

 Episode 64: Guest Holly Wesche | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:25:15

You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Holly Wesche, owner of Wesche Jewelers about everything from rocket launches to lessons learned in the past two years.Show Notes01:20 The JCK editors introduce Holly Wesche, owner of Wesche Jewelers.03:50 Holly describes how she got started in the jewelry industry.07:10 Holly remarks on the tremendous success Wesche Jewelers has seen in the past two years.09:00 The group discusses the paradigm shift that has occurred in the past two years in retail.17:20 How have store events changed at Wesche Jewelers?19:30 Victoria asks what product trends Holly has seen.21:00 Rob asks Holly about the benefits of her involvement in associations.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapIntroducing Holly WescheRob and Victoria introduce their guest, Holly Wesche, owner of Wesche Jewelers. She is based in Melbourne, Fla., on "the space coast," near Cape Canaveral. They move on from rocket launches to how Holly's career launched. Holly describes how, despite her family's business, she fell into jewelry retail by chance. Growing up, she had not considered entering the industry. When Holly was in school studying journalism, she started a part-time job at a jewelry counter to make a little money. That's when she was "bit by the jewelry bug." When Holly got serious about her new career path, her dad had a heart-to-heart with her about taking up the family trade. He warned her to know how difficult it is to own one's own business, but he knew she would be successful.Wesche Jewelers' Success Amid The PandemicWesche Jewelers has had a strong few years recently. In 2021, they were up 48%—and that was after a very successful year. Wesche has experienced double-digit growth over the past two years, which surprised Holly and has caused her to feel gratitude. During the quarantine period, Wesche Jewelers was closed for six weeks. While the store was closed, Holly looked at the store's budget and mapped out worst-case scenarios. However, once the store reopened, business immediately began to boom. At first, she thought it was the boomerang effect and waited for the bubble to burst, but it never did.Dealing With a Paradigm Shift in RetailHolly describes how things shifted for Wesche during the pandemic and how her team was able to adapt. They were already doing curbside pickup and virtual sales, but these used to be the exception instead of the rule. Her team was well-equipped to take those skills and put them into their everyday business practice. Another example is online payments. Wesche had been looking into the Podium payment platform before the pandemic, but COVID accelerated their adoption of it. The company also improved e-commerce on its website. One of the big lessons Holly learned from this experience is always to look forward and not wait for a disaster to force her to think outside the box.Setting IntentionsThe pandemic forced retailers to improve e-commerce and adapt to meet customers where they are. Holly describes the different ways Wesche has adapted to become more intentional about the digital side of its business. She asserts that the in-person and digital experience are very intertwined,

 Episode 63: Tucson Gem Shows, Kering, and Small Diamonds | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:25:51

You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk about the Tucson gem shows, Kering's sale of two watch brands, small diamonds, and Rob’s new book.Show Notes00:30 Victoria talks about her time at the Tucson gem shows.09:19 Rob shares his thoughts on the sanctions on Burmese gems.14:26 Victoria and Rob discuss luxury conglomerates such as Kering.21:23 Rob recently wrote a story on how hot small diamonds are becoming. He also shares information on his new book, Murder Is Not A Girl’s Best Friend. Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine,  (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)robbatesauthor.com (http://robbatesauthor.com/)Show RecapArizona’s Tucson Gem ShowsVictoria just came back from the Tucson gem shows, which typically have a huge international presence, but this year drew more of an American audience. She says the dealers had really great shows, with growing interest in rare and unusual stones. One of the most expensive gems at the show was an 80.26 ct. Burmese royal blue sapphire, with a retail value north of $10 million. Victoria says the fact that this gem was displayed at the show is proof of the strength of the marketplace. People are willing to buy high-priced gems. However, Victoria says mining is still feeling the effects of the pandemic.Gem SanctionsRight before Tucson, Rob says the U.S. government put out a business advisory (https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/20220126_burma_advisory.pdf) warning dealers to make sure they are not sourcing gems from Myanmar (also known as Burma) because of the sanctions against the major gem miners there. Victoria wonders how these kinds of bans are enforced, and Rob says he doesn’t believe they are. If the government really wanted to enforce them, it would have to be clearer in what they actually want people to do.KeringKering is a conglomerate of luxury brands (Gucci chief among them), and it's just recently sold two watch brands, Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin. Victoria says Kering also has been really progressive in its sustainability efforts, and has been a real leader in that space. She talks about how watch brands generally have not been part of big conglomerates, and perhaps we are starting to see a return to that.Small Diamonds and Rob’s New BookRob just wrote a piece (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/small-diamonds-are-now-big/) about small diamonds and says they’re hot with prices going up. Interestingly, there also is a similar shortage on the lab-grown diamond side. Pivoting at the end of the podcast, Victoria joyously announces that Rob just had his second book published! The book, Murder Is Not A Girl’s Best Friend, is a sequel to his first, A Murder Is Forever.

 The Jewelry District, Episode 62: Guest Emily Stoehrer | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:28:15

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.Show Notes00:30 The JCK editors introduce Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.10:18 Emily explains how she brings the jewelry collections together.17:11 Victoria asks if there are any gaps in the collections at the Museum of Fine Arts.19:30 Emily discusses founder Susan Kaplan, designer Wallace Chan, and the intersection of jewelry and technology.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com, @jckmagazineShow RecapIntroducing Emily StohrerRob and Victoria introduce their guest, Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She’s the country’s only dedicated jewelry curator. Emily has an undergraduate degree in psychology and originally planned to go into law but ended up going to FIT to study textiles and fashion. She then went back to Boston to work at the Museum of Fine Arts as an intern. She also began work on a Ph.D., which enabled her to study jewelry theory and material culture. She now serves as a curator in the museum to a global jewelry collection that spans 6,000 years and has 22,000 objects. As a fashion historian, she’s interested in the ways jewelry and fashion intersect.How The Collections Are CreatedVictoria asks Emily where the pieces in the collection come from, how they vet them, and how they put it all together. Emily says the majority of pieces in the museum come in as gifts, but they also purchase works of art. As far as the jewelry collection goes, those pieces are mostly from excavation in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Only 1%–3% of the collection goes on view. With new technology, they can update the descriptions of the jewelry, as their stories are always evolving. Victoria asks what a few of Emily’s favorite pieces are.Gaps in the CollectionVictoria wonders if there are any gaps in the collection, and Emily says over the past few years she’s been looking to add pieces created by women jewelers, and going forward she’s looking to add pieces by artists of color. She’s recently added a piece by Winifred Mason, a teacher of Art Smith and one of the most well-known artists in the studio jewelry movement. Her work will be shown in an upcoming jazz exhibition at the museum. Rob asks how hard it is to get people to come into the jewelry wing, and Emily says combining different displays and grouping pieces together from fashion and jewelry brings more attention to the jewelry.Susan Kaplan, Wallace Chan, and Tech in JewelrySusan Kaplan endowed the jewelry gallery but recognized that someone would need to be on staff to know all about that jewelry. Rob asks if Emily thinks jewelry is underappreciated as a historical category—Emily says yes. Emily speaks of her contribution to Wallace Chan’s new book on his butterfly collection. She hopes to add a piece of his to the museum's collection. Victoria asks if AI will make its way into the collections at some point, and Emily believes eventually it will, but she’s not especially interested in the intersection of jewelry and technology yet, as it’s just getting started.

 Episode 62: Guest Emily Stoehrer | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:28:15

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.Show Notes00:30 The JCK editors introduce Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.10:18 Emily explains how she brings the jewelry collections together.17:11 Victoria asks if there are any gaps in the collections at the Museum of Fine Arts.19:30 Emily discusses founder Susan Kaplan, designer Wallace Chan, and the intersection of jewelry and technology.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com, @jckmagazineShow RecapIntroducing Emily StohrerRob and Victoria introduce their guest, Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She’s the country’s only dedicated jewelry curator. Emily has an undergraduate degree in psychology and originally planned to go into law but ended up going to FIT to study textiles and fashion. She then went back to Boston to work at the Museum of Fine Arts as an intern. She also began work on a Ph.D., which enabled her to study jewelry theory and material culture. She now serves as a curator in the museum to a global jewelry collection that spans 6,000 years and has 22,000 objects. As a fashion historian, she’s interested in the ways jewelry and fashion intersect.How The Collections Are CreatedVictoria asks Emily where the pieces in the collection come from, how they vet them, and how they put it all together. Emily says the majority of pieces in the museum come in as gifts, but they also purchase works of art. As far as the jewelry collection goes, those pieces are mostly from excavation in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Only 1%–3% of the collection goes on view. With new technology, they can update the descriptions of the jewelry, as their stories are always evolving. Victoria asks what a few of Emily’s favorite pieces are.Gaps in the CollectionVictoria wonders if there are any gaps in the collection, and Emily says over the past few years she’s been looking to add pieces created by women jewelers, and going forward she’s looking to add pieces by artists of color. She’s recently added a piece by Winifred Mason, a teacher of Art Smith and one of the most well-known artists in the studio jewelry movement. Her work will be shown in an upcoming jazz exhibition at the museum. Rob asks how hard it is to get people to come into the jewelry wing, and Emily says combining different displays and grouping pieces together from fashion and jewelry brings more attention to the jewelry.Susan Kaplan, Wallace Chan, and Tech in JewelrySusan Kaplan endowed the jewelry gallery but recognized that someone would need to be on staff to know all about that jewelry. Rob asks if Emily thinks jewelry is underappreciated as a historical category—Emily says yes. Emily speaks of her contribution to Wallace Chan’s new book on his butterfly collection. She hopes to add a piece of his to the museum's collection. Victoria asks if AI will make its way into the collections at some point, and Emily believes eventually it will, but she’s not especially interested in the intersection of jewelry and technology yet, as it’s just getting started.

 Episode 61: Holiday Sales, Ben Bridge, Pandora, Robbins Brothers, and Tucson | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:25:59

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk about Ben Bridge and Pandora, the Tucson shows, and predictions for 2022.Show Notes00:30 Victoria and Rob talk about how 2021 was a good year for the jewelry industry.09:15 Seattle-based Ben Bridge is divesting from Pandora, and Rob explains what that means for the franchise.13:16 Rob and Victoria discuss where the ownership of Robbins Brothers, another West Coast company, lies.17:16 Victoria is excited to go to the Tucson gem shows.21:35 Victoria recounts her article interviewing 22 people’s predictions on the jewelry and watch industry in 2022.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (http://instagram.com/jckmagazine)Show RecapSparkling SalesAfter talking about how the pandemic is going, Victoria mentions a 2021 “December to Remember” email she got from Abe Sherman, CEO of the Buyers Intelligence Group, reviewing just how good jewelry sales were across the industry. Rob and Victoria marvel over how successful the jewelry industry has been and how the jewelry market is potentially bigger than anyone expected. The question remains: How do we make this last?Ben Bridge and PandoraRob talks about Ben Bridge’s decision (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/ben-bridge-37-pandora-stores/) to sell its 37 Pandora franchise stores back to Pandora. These 37 stores comprise most of the Pandora stores on the West Coast. Pandora has gone back and forth between wanting to control its own stores and letting other brands control its sales. Rob then explores how he thinks Ben Bridge might grow in the future.Robbins BrothersRob briefly talks about another West Coast jeweler, Robbins Brothers, a 15-store chain owned by private equity, which has put together a new management-led buyout. (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/robbins-brothers-new-owners/)The Tucson Gem ShowsVictoria is going to Tucson for the gem shows! Centurion is opening at a new location this month. She spoke to (https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/centurion-at-arizona-biltmore/) Howard Hauben, the organizer of Centurion, and he says they’re moving full steam ahead. The Tucson shows are as well. Victoria notes there will be supply constraints and prices rising on quality goods. The pearl market is also constrained due to the lack of harvest. A piece of advice? If you like something, buy it. Prices are expected to rise, so you’re going to want to grab what you can while you can.2022 PredictionsRob is hopeful that in March we’ll be able to have a nice 24 Karat Weekend. Victoria notes the Gem Awards have a really great roster as well. Thinking about this year and what to expect, Victoria recalls her article (https://www.jckonline.com/article-long/2022-jewelry-industry-predictions/) interviewing 22 people across the jewelry industry answering the question: “What is your boldest prediction for the jewelry and watch industry in 2022?” She says their answers were mostly positive, but there was a belief that people would be judged by their actions, meaning that you can no longer just boast about your values. You now must show how your business is aligning with them.

 Episode 60: Guest Alexis Padis | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:26:00

In This EpisodeYou’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/victoria-gomelsky/) and news director Rob Bates (https://www.jckonline.com/writer/rob-bates/) talk with Alexis Padis, president of San Francisco–based Padis Jewelry (https://www.padisgems.com/).Show Notes00:30 Alexis tells the story of how she got into the industry.08:25 Victoria asks Alexis what the best and worst parts are about working in a family business.10:44 Alexis talks about the effect the pandemic has had on Padis.15:21 Alexis expresses worry over the next generation of jewelers.22:56 Victoria asks about sustainability in her store; Rob asks about Forevermark.Episode CreditsHosts: Rob Bates and Victoria GomelskyProducer and engineer: Natalie ChometPlugs: Padis Jewelry (http://www.padisgems.com/), jckonline.com (https://www.jckonline.com/), @jckmagazine (https://www.instagram.com/jckmagazine/)Show RecapIntroducing Alexis PadisVictoria and Rob's guest today is Alexis Padis, president of Padis Jewelry. Alexis is one of four kids, and she's the only one who ended up joining the family business after spending time in an entirely different industry. She tells the story of how after selling an engagement ring to one couple she decided she had to get into the jewelry industry herself. She explains how her parents got into the industry as well. Her dad dropped out of medical school to become a jeweler. While selling puka shells, he met Alexis' mom on the job when he started to buy clasps wholesale and she was the distributor.The Best and Worst of a Generational BusinessVictoria asks Alexis what the best and worst parts are about working in a family business. Alexis says the best and worst parts are the same: getting to know her parents as people. While some may put their parents on a pedestal when only seeing them at family gatherings, Alexis sees her parents all the time and has gotten to know them not only as generous, wonderful, and energetic people—but also as savvy business operators. She enjoys knowing her parents on this new level but needs to separate family from business. Alexis runs the front of the house and makes sure every location feels equal and has what it needs.The Effects of the PandemicAlexis became president in March 2019, and Victoria asks how she navigated that experience. Alexis explains how once 2020 came along, California was shut down, and retailers couldn't open their stores, so they ended up doing a pop-up store. She says 2020 and 2021 were successful business years, but when things were shutting down, it was quite the whirlwind. She learned to meet the consumers where they were with an omnichannel approach.Where Are The Future Bench Jewelers?Alexis expresses why she thinks it’s important for those already in the industry to mentor younger generations just entering the jewelry industry. She expresses concern about the loss of bench jewelers. Alexis has incredible retail experience on the sales floor but doesn’t have the bench skills that her father has. She fears there might not be a future generation of artisanal jewelry-makers if places like the Revere Academy continue to close. Alexis also talks about the opening of her Napa, Calif., store during the pandemic.Sustainability And De BeersVictoria asks Alexis, given that she is in San Francisco, one of the most progressive cities in the country, how many eco-conscious shoppers she has.

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