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HomeBUSINESS & FINANCEJCK's Global Jewellery Industry Annual Conference Highlights Business Innovation

JCK’s Global Jewellery Industry Annual Conference Highlights Business Innovation

Members of the Black in Jewellery Coalition, including Dorian Webb, Deinté Fine Jewellery, James Mack… [+] Fine Jewellery, KuQala Diamonds, Nungu Diamonds, and Simone I. Smith, exhibited at JCK for the second consecutive year with the assistance of a grant from the JCK industry fund.

JCK is the annual celebration of the jewellery industry’s trade exhibition. This year’s edition of JCK was sold out and pulsated with innovative show programming, exhibitors, and significant design trends. Attendance was up 8% from last year.

JCK, which was presented by RX Global, attracted more than 30,000 industry professionals for a week of jewellery product sourcing, educational lectures and panels, and festive networking. According to Sarin Bachmann, Group Vice President of the RX jewellery portfolio, more than 18,000 people from over 100 countries attended JCK this year to conduct business with nearly 2,000 exhibiting companies.

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eBay’s Global GM of Luxury, Tirath Kandar, discussed how eBay’s new Certified by Brand platform [+] provides access to brand-backed, authentic luxury jewellery, timepieces, and other products.

This year’s JCK and its shows-within-shows were held at The Venetian and The Venetian Expo in Las Vegas from May 31 to June 5. They featured newsworthy gemstones, jewellery, and designers, which attracted major retailers and international media. Luxury, the invitation-only trade exhibit for high-end jewellery and upscale retailers, was open to invited contacts and the media from May 31 to June 1, and then to the general public from June 2 to June 5. While JCK was held between June 2 and 5, the American Gem Trade Association’s “GEMS with AGTA Las Vegas” and the JCK Talks educational speakers’ program began on June 1.

JCK is the place where the jewellery business is conducted, the news is disseminated, and the jewellery industry communicates knowledge. In addition, it provides welcome opportunities to various jewellery industry stakeholders.

Notably, JCK supported the business goals of its delegates by showcasing innovative technologies that drive cutting-edge jewellery retailing, sourcing, and information technology.

The inclusion of technological activations, an expanded Innovation Hub area, and presentations of industry trends and advancements affirmed the show’s overarching theme: innovation is alive and well at JCK. Exhibitors such as eBay, whose Global GM of Luxury, Tirath Kandar, explained the e-tailer’s new “Certified by Brand” program, which entails authentication of merchandise by luxury brands for their goods sold on eBay’s marketplace, provided further evidence of this slogan.

Listings within the Certified by Brand program will include either ‘Direct from Brand’ or ‘Brand Authorized Seller’ badges,” eBay’s Kandar told this reporter at the booth’s busy centre. “This enables buyers to easily identify listings in the program, just as eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee checkmark helps to distinguish inventory,” Kandar explained.

This year, over 18,000 attendees from over 100 countries attended JCK to conduct business with nearly 2,000 [+] exhibiting companies.

DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Every exhibitor neighbourhood and JCK Talks Track at JCK featured initiatives, brands, and other exhibitors with information and action plans that benefit the environment, jewellery designers, retailers, and consumers, proving the adage “innovation lives at JCK.” As an illustration, consider the Black in Jewellery Coalition (BIJC).

The Black in Jewellery Coalition (BIJC) presented the BIJC Collective at JCK for the second consecutive year, with support from the JCK Industry Fund. This allowed attendees to interact with six jewellery and loose gemstone companies owned by Black entrepreneurs. These included Simone I. Smith, Dorian Webb, Deinté Fine Jewellery, James Mack Fine Jewellery, KuQala Diamonds, and Nungu Diamonds.

This writer was told by Dorian Webb, a designer from Oakland, that he has been in meetings nonstop throughout the duration of the show. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our respective designs and products to a wide range of retailers and media.

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In addition to highlighting BIPOC designers, JCK Talks tracks and specialized education sessions emphasized DEI. “At JCK and all RX Events, everyone belongs,” stated Bachmann. “This was another fruitful and dynamic year for JCK.

Attendees and exhibitors provided overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding our increased attendance, excellent keynote speakers and presentations, and enhanced education and networking.

Two successful aspects of JCK 2023 were the American Gem Trade Association’s “GEMS with AGTA Las Vegas” and the JCK Talks educational speakers’ program.

Six emerging graduate designers from the Women’s Jewellery Association’s Jewellery Loupe Project were featured in the first-ever JCK Design Collective exhibit, directly across from BIJC. This exhibition gave designers such as Isabel Dennis, Soojin Kim, Patty Lauritzen, Rachel Weld Newton, Alexis Pavlantos, and Constance Polamalu a platform.

In addition, on Friday, June 2, WJA convened its annual “WJA Generating Community Breakfast,” with a focus on disability inclusion in the jewellery and watch industries.

Participants in the 2023 Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative (EDDI) of the Natural Diamond Council represented a group of rising talents. Through the EDDI program, which was created in 2021 by the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and veteran jewellery designer Lorraine Schwartz, Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) designers have acquired direct access to vital education and business opportunities, as well as valuable resources.

Amina Sorel, Bernard James, Gwen Beloti, Jessenia Landrum, Rosario Navias, and Ymoné Currie displayed their collections in the Luxury private ballroom of the NDC.

Tendencies and Design Inventions

Torques, collars, and distinctive necklaces glistened throughout the entirety of the JCK Design Collective. Unlike Rich Passion Jewellery’s golden torque necklace, which resembled coral or plant branches, Andrea Marazzini’s gemstone-encrusted torque resembled a summer bouquet.

Conceived by first-generation American Samoan jeweller Constance Polamalu, the gold and diamond Ula Nifo necklace from Birthright Foundry made a cultural and historical statement. In ancient Samoa, the Ula Nifo was a necklace made of whale teeth worn by chiefs and their descendants to signify affluence and status.

During JFK’s numerous networking events, jewellery designers, marketers, and journalists mixed.

Recycled antique shotgun barrels adorned opulent rings by Chris Ploof Designs, who also displayed classically appealing, hand-forged Damascus steel pendants that can be embedded with an NFC device that contains the wearer’s medical history.

The designs of Ploof remind us that humans have historically worn talismans for protection and as adornments. Incorporating potentially life-saving health information, Ploof’s pendants accomplish all of the above.

As this author entered JCK’s Design Collective, a throng of retail buyers surrounded the booth of New York-based Studio Baharra, where the brand’s proprietor, designer and goldsmith Bahadir Alphan, was taking orders for his diamond and coloured gemstone-studded jewellery.

The 22-karat gold on rough silver or gold Studio Baharra designs appear to be antiques while fitting the current culture of covert affluence. While these luxury gemstones are artistic, with intricate engraving and precious stones, they also have the appearance of an heirloom.

Progress in Sustainability

This year, JCK scheduled numerous talks on urgently pertinent sustainable topics for the planet, its inhabitants, and the jewellery industry. JCK also featured innovators and designers engaged in the sustainable procurement of precious metals and gems. Oregon-based jeweller Toby Pomeroy, founder and director of the non-profit Mercury Free Mining (MFM), presented a breakthrough in this field.

Pomeroy demonstrated the GOLDROP, a small, portable, and relatively inexpensive piece of gold mining apparatus that utilizes a straightforward water flow system to separate gold from dirt and minerals.

According to Pomeroy, “artisanal miners in developing nations have no choice but to use toxic mercury in their gold-extraction process, despite its devastating effects on themselves, their communities, and the global community.” Mercury causes neurological disorders, birth defects, and numerous other maladies; however, mercury that has contaminated the environment “is also very difficult to remove from the earth,” according to Pomeroy.

Mercury used in gold mining pollutes our atmosphere, rivers, oceans, and the animals on which millions of people depend for protein. The good news is that the future health and environmental impacts of mercury pollution can be mitigated by eliminating mercury from gold mining.

However, the GOLDROP system provides a sustainable alternative to the use of toxic mercury in artisanal mining. Invented by John Richmond of Oregon’s Sluice Goose Industries, the GOLDROP is a portable, user-friendly, and cost-effective device that, according to laboratory findings, captures more pure gold than conventional processing methods, including those involving mercury.

Recent successful field tests of the GOLDROP system for mercury-free processing of gold ore represent advances in the effort to protect the health, safety, and economic outcomes of the 15 to 20 million artisanal, small-scale gold miners (ASGM) who use mercury, which inevitably harms community health and degrades the global environment.

Pomeroy explained that the field experiments were conducted with approximately sixty miners in three communities in the departments of Chocó and Antioquia in mid-April 2023. “These tests were conducted after several years of planning and technical analysis by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and MFM,” Pomeroy explained. “We received funding from the Gemological Institute of America.” Juan Camilo Mega Mosquera, a gold miner for Unión Panamericana, stated to Pomeroy and the GIA, “I can see that GOLDROP produces some of the highest fine gold recoveries I have ever seen.”

Pomeroy stated, “The miners we collaborated with were genuinely enthusiastic about the GOLDROP system, anticipating an increase in their gold recovery rates and a decrease in their reliance on mercury.

Initial findings utilizing the GOLDROP system for the recovery of fine gold and mercury from whole-ore amalgamated concentrates are extremely encouraging.” Further analysis will quantify specific data demonstrating GOLDROP’s effectiveness in a variety of mining environments and ore types.”

Toby Pomeroy, executive director of the non-profit Mercury Free Extraction,  thanks Avi Levy of the International Gemological Institute for supporting research into mercury-free gold extraction.

Avi Levy, president of the International Gemological Institute (IGI) of North America, stated, “The GOLDROP is a prospective alternative for the 15 to 20 million ASGM who use mercury, a potent neurotoxin and environmental poison, in their gold extraction process. It is an environmentally sustainable technology that is also economically and culturally advantageous for gold producers and their communities. Mercury Free Mining is seeking solutions to the problem of mercury mining,” said Pomeroy.

With the assistance of our primary sponsor Lashbrook and grants from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), we are testing the GOLDROP in artisanal mining communities around the globe.”

Toby Pomeroy demonstrated the GOLDROP, a small, portable, and relatively inexpensive piece of gold mining apparatus that uses a simple water-flow system to separate gold from dirt and minerals rather than toxic mercury.

Susan Jacques, president and CEO of the GIA, stated in a press release, “The encouraging results of this test demonstrate the importance of innovation and dedication. This tremendous success contributes to the protection of ASGM communities and satisfies the increasing consumer demand for greater sustainability in the gem and jewellery supply chain.

MFM’s next research endeavour, slated for completion in 2023, is a pilot project to evaluate the efficacy of the GOLDROP system in specific mining communities in Peru and Colombia.

According to Bachmann, “JCK is where relationships are formed, where news is made, and where the jewellery industry shares knowledge, advances underserved communities, and offers opportunities to various industry stakeholders.” New York-based designer Stephanie Gottlieb illustrated Bachmann’s point. Gottlieb stated, during an awards dinner hosted by the non-profit organization Diamonds Do Good, “I joined the board of Diamonds Do Good in January 2023.

Because it supports education, healthcare, and entrepreneurial programs to develop and empower people in communities where natural diamonds are mined, cut, and sold, I am delighted to contribute to this organization’s marketing efforts.

Stephanie Gottlieb, a New York-based jewellery designer and board member of the non-profit Diamonds Do Good, offers a bracelet on her website that benefits the charity’s initiatives in diamond-mining nations.

In this regard, the Stephanie Gottlieb Jewellery website sells a Diamonds Do Good Bracelet. She explained that this bracelet’s black matte onyx beads are accented with four evenly spaced black diamonds “to symbolize unity and equality.” The pulse point is adorned with a green tsavorite garnet to symbolize vitality and rebirth. She continued, “On the opposite side of the tsavorite is a champagne diamond, which represents the light within each of us.”

Stephanie Gottlieb donates the entire profit from the sale of the Diamonds Do Good Bracelet to the Flaviana Matata Foundation in Tanzania, which supports health and education initiatives for women and girls. While there were numerous other events at JCK in support of jewellery-related charities, the Diamonds Do Good dinner’s speakers and awards provided a compelling look at how jewellery designers, such as Gottlieb, retailers, and other industry stakeholders are giving back to ensure positive outcomes. “JCK is the highlight of the year,” said Gottlieb. It is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and assist others by sharing our stories.




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