(NORWALK, Conn.) – JCK Events recently concluded its first edition of an online trade event designed to offer the global jewelry and watch industry opportunities to reconnect virtually during a unified week of virtual networking, appointments, expert insight and product discovery. The platform helped qualified jewelry buyers and professionals find their network and reset their business, from the comfort of their home or office, by discovering what’s new, next and innovative for their business via Virtual Showrooms featuring the most diverse mix of jewelry and watch suppliers from around the world.
JCK Virtual featured a full slate of programming, August 10-14, that offered the best elements of JCK Las Vegas & Luxury trade shows to exhibitors and attendees online. These included:
- A robust education program of 17 JCK Talks sessions, presenting sponsor Jewelers Mutual Group
- In-depth trends coverage, with 12 JCK Talks Trends panels, sponsored by GIA
- 5 days of product discovery and virtual appointments, via the platform’s interactive Exhibitor and Product Directories
- Unique, live events – where participants could converse, network and reconnect from the comfort of their home or office
Reconnection was the theme, and the event brought together over 5,000 jewelry industry professionals, with more than 3,400 attendees – including over 2,400 buyers, and over 700 exhibiting companies. Participants reconnected like never before via access to chat feeds, video meetings, product and exhibitor directories and look books, JCK Talks and Keynotes, jewelry trends panels and more.
Visitors were highly engaged once they logged on to JCK Virtual; their activity on the platform was focused on utilizing the Exhibitor and Product Directories, visiting Virtual Showrooms and viewing sessions. The Exhibitor and Product Directories received 43,000+ page views as of show close on August 14. Visitors performed more than 142,000 search queries, nearly 60,000 product views, over 35,000 Virtual Showroom views and “favorited” nearly 7,000 products to date.
“At a time when how our industry connects is not currently an option, JCK Events had a responsibility to quickly pivot to bring our industry together and facilitate vital business connections in a new way. The jewelry industry is based on relationships and a highly visual product mix and relies on JCK Las Vegas each year to accomplish the majority of their buying, so the challenge was to create an online platform that replicates the experience of in-person meetings and browsing a diverse mix of products and exhibitors on a show floor as best as possible,” explains Sarin Bachmann, Group Vice President, Reed Jewelry Group. “While our audience enjoyed feeling connected via the education, browsing product and meeting virtually – it was clear the digital experience cannot replace or fully replicate the experience of our in-person trade shows and events, where attendees can touch and feel the products as well as socialize and connect in person.
“Our goal is to develop a hybrid model in the future, offering the best features of JCK Virtual alongside our live events. The feedback we’ve received from our attendees and exhibitors is that JCK Virtual offered an unparalleled new and modern experience in these unprecedented times, and that they are looking forward to reuniting in 2021 in Las Vegas. Given the connections made through the platform, and the engagement of the industry last week, we are proud we provided jewelers with a platform to strategize and merchandise for an uncharted year ahead in one place.”
Susan Klemt Williams, Vice President of Artistry Ltd and Graymoor Lane Designs, an exhibiting company says, “JCK Virtual was a wonderful way for Artistry to showcase our brand and reconnect with our retail partners. While we deeply missed the one-on-one interaction, we were very pleased to have so many people expressing interest to meet with us virtually. We can’t wait to see everyone in person again next year!”
In addition to business opportunities Kate Youngstrom, JCK & Luxury Director of Special Events & Conference, noted: “The JCK Virtual educational program offered the most robust schedule of relevant education and trends coverage available to the jewelry and watch industry in 2020. With 34 virtual educational sessions from leading market experts and networking events, all in one place, JCK Virtual offered jewelry professionals access to the experts and companies necessary to navigate their uncharted year ahead. We are grateful to our JCK Talks Presenting Sponsor, Jewelers Mutual, and our JCK Talks Trends Sponsor, GIA, and our partners at JCK Magazine for helping us produce insightful content to take our industry to the next level.”
JCK Virtual Highlights Included:
The Luxury Experience kicked off the week on August 10 with an opening keynote presented by De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver, who addressed the challenges the industry is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he shared insights from new consumer research that addressed industry trends and outlined what it all means as we head toward the holiday season. “Diamonds represent not just tradition and love, but also positivity, joy and growth – emotional needs that are important to consumers right now,” says Cleaver.
JCK Virtual 2020 opened on August 11 with an opening address from Group Vice President Sarin Bachmann, followed by a keynote sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Group with Bill Thorne, senior vice president for communications and public affairs of the National Retail Federation, and Lydia Fenet, Global Managing Director of Christie’s Auction House, who walked the audience through the state of the retail industry in 2020, and what it looks like before, during and after the pandemic. Thorne stated, “When we were going through the Great Recession, retailers were taking that opportunity to assess and reassess how they were interacting with the customer, how they were pricing what their product mix was going to be, how they recognized efficiencies through the supply chain. The pandemic has created an opportunity for retailers to connect in a way that they hadn’t before…and make sure they are offering a good experience and a personal experience and people really feeling good and safe when they go somewhere.”
On August 12, “Leading with Purpose: The Jewellery Industry Beyond COVID-19,” sponsored by Responsible Jewellery Council, shared perspectives on the critical importance of sustainable and responsible business practices and the interconnected approach needed as part of the recovery strategy of an organization amid the global pandemic. The live discussion featured an esteemed panel of top industry leaders including: Sue Allchurch, Chief, Outreach & Engagement United National Global Compact; Pamela Fierst-Walsh, Senior Advisor on Conflict Minerals U.S. Department of State; David Bouffard, Vice President, Corporate Affairs Signet; Mark Hanna, CMO Richline Group; Belit Myers, Vice President of Compliance, Inventory and Information Stuller; Raj Mehta, Director Rosy Blue; Pat Dambe, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Government Relations at De Beers Group. The keynote was moderated by Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of Responsible Jewellery Council.
The final keynote, “2020 Industry Trend Survey Results,” sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Insurance, was presented on August 13 by Yancy Weinrich, COO of Reed Exhibitions, and Rob Bates, News Director of JCK Magazine. It included an inspiring discussion with retailers Megan Flynn of M. Flynn Jewelry and John Carter of Jack Lewis Jewelers. Carter concluded with, “Bridal sales have been increased because love is not canceled!”
JCK Talks Trends
JCK Virtual’s robust programming included daily JCK Talks Trends sessions, sponsored by GIA and moderated by Victoria Gomelsky Editor in Chief of JCK Magazine. In brief 10-minute segments that kick off each neighborhood’s buying hours, attendees heard from leading market trend experts on what’s new and next in the JCK & Luxury neighborhoods: Bridal, Bridge & Currents, Luxury, Design@Luxury, Gemstones, Clockwork, Plumb Club, Diamonds, Essentials and Exchange & First Look.
Market trend experts included Marion Fasel of The Adventurine, Randi Molofsky of For Future Reference, Tracey Ellison of @TheDiamondsGirl, Kareem Rashed of Robb Report, Shelley Brown of The Knot, Severine Ferrari of Engagement 101, Susan Jacques of GIA, Monica Stephenson of iDazzle, Hannah Becker of Diamond Doodles, Danielle Miele of Gem Gossip, Piers Fawkes of PSFK, Zach Weiss of Worn & Wound, Dale Arden Chong of The Zoe Report and Who What Wear and other industry experts.
The quick segments revealed key trend takeaways to inform jewelers of merchandising and showcase strategy for the year ahead. In the Bridal category, trends discussed included an uptick in proposals, deemed “pandemic proposals” by Severine Ferrari of Engagement 101, an increase in color and alternative center stones such as sapphires, emeralds and pearls; warmer metals and unisex rings. The Design category panelists described increased consumer demand in very high-end jewelry and watches, with people spending less on travel and experiences and more on meaningful, personalized jewelry that will hold its value. In the Gemstone category, bold vibrant colors are increasing in popularity, as well as responsible sourcing and more ethical practices.
Many of the trend-focused panels described culture’s current focus on the nostalgic and sentimental that is crossing over to accessories with consumers gravitating towards motifs, playful uplifting color, gold chains, charms, and symbolic jewelry. The importance of transparency and diversity in business were among the trends mentioned in many sessions.
JCK Virtual held various virtual networking events to reconnect and recharge throughout the week that replicated the unique celebratory moments people experience at the Las Vegas shows each year. The virtual event experiences included:
- “Drunk Yoga” sponsored by Luvente.
- A Dine In for Luxury attendees, with the family behind London Jewelers leading a live cooking lesson.
- Association Mix & Mingle, which offered some of the jewelry industry’s most social member organizations space to network during live Zoom trivia and cocktails. The American Gem Society Young Title Holders, Jewelers of America, Jewelers Vigilance Committee and the Women’s Jewelry Association, took part.
- An online Jewelry Fashion Show featuring Ania Haie, Doves, Julie Vos and Lika Behar to name a few.
- A Live Concert of Billy Joel’s greatest hits by Tony and Grammy-nominated musical performer Michael Cavanaugh.
For more details about JCK Virtual’s slate of programming, visit virtual.jckonline.com.
Stronger Together, Opportunities to Give Back
Much like at JCK Las Vegas & Luxury trade shows, there were several opportunities for participants to give back to communities in need. Attendees and exhibitors participated in the virtual version of the annual Jewelers For Children Rings of Strength run by clocking their daily activity such as running or walking. Attendees completed nearly 500,000 combined steps and raised over $6,000 to help children in need.
The industry also came together to support the JCK Industry Fund, which provides annual grants to jewelry industry associations and groups to support their programs focused on improving the growth and health of the industry. During JCK Virtual, the JCK Industry Fund announced its new diversity & inclusion grant to offer funds to organizations that support BIPOC initiatives within the industry.
A topical social-cultural session, “Promoting Diversity in The Diamond Industry,” presented by Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. and moderated by Victoria Gomelsky, Editor in Chief of JCK Magazine was sponsored by De Beers Group on Wednesday, August 12. De Beers Group also donated $10 for every viewer to the JCK Industry Fund’s new Diversity & Inclusivity grant.
There is still time to contribute, visit the Give Back page at https://virtual.jckonline.com/page/giveback
JCK Las Vegas will return to the Venetian Resort & Sands Expo on June 4-7, 2021, and for the invitation-only Luxury show on June 2-3, 2021. Learn more about JCK Las Vegas at https://lasvegas.jckonline.com/.