JCK Las Vegas, the premier trade show in the world’s largest diamond jewelry market, wrapped its 2018 edition at the Mandalay Bay convention center on June 4 on a generally optimistic note. While experienced market watchers commented that foot traffic at the event seemed somewhat thinner than in years gone by, the general sentiment of exhibitors was positive, with most noting that the fair met expectations and often surpassed them.
“We certainly have experienced shows in Las Vegas where the volume of visitors was higher than this year, but in the end it’s the results that count,” said Dotan Meirov, a principle at MID House of Diamonds, speaking in the company’s diamond-filled booth at the end of the third day of the show. “The buyers are here, and most of those that we have sat down with to date have been serious and ready to place sizeable orders. So, I am certainly not complaining.”
Unlike other certain other of the major trade shows in Europe and particularly Hong Kong, JCK Las Vegas can never really be judged solely by orders placed during the event, but largely on the follow-up that takes place in the days and weeks that follow. “This is a massive show, which brings together in one place almost all the major players in the American market. It’s a must-attend event, where our goals are to show is to show the American market what we are capable of and what we can deliver on a regular basis, to create new contacts and to meet with existing clients, learn about what they require and to reinforce our long-term relationships. The important work begins as soon as show ends,” Meirov added.
Several factors were cited for the seemingly thinner crowds at the show. First, while the event is spread over four days, the second day was the Jewish Sabbath, when many of the stands were closed, and the fourth day, a Monday, was quiet, as many of the retailers had headed back home on Sunday evening, so as to be back at home for the start of the new work week. Also mentioned was the general consolidation of the American market, where the number of retailers has been shrinking, concentrating the growing volume and value of diamond jewelry sales in fewer hands.
NEW INDEX SHOWS 88% OF U.S. JEWELERS AS CONFIDENT
But importantly, the state of the American jewelry market is good, buoyed by a powerful economy and a healthy jobs market. Prior to the start of the show, JCK debuted a new standard measure for the American jewelry trade, called the JCK Jewelry Confidence Index (JICI). It premiered at an impressive 88, meaning that 88 percent of respondents were optimistic about their business prospects over the coming 12 months.
The new index was the showpiece of JCK’s state of the American jewelry industry report, which was created by querying more than 500 readers of JCK magazine and show attendees. According to the findings, some 57 percent of respondents were optimistic about the state of the general U.S. economy, with 46 percent reporting that it is is better now than it was a year ago, and only 20 percent believing it is worse.
Some 41 percent of U.S. jewelry market respondents forecast even more favorable conditions 12 months from now, versus 22 percent who expect things will get worse. About 32 percent ranked alternative engagement rings as the leading product trend in 2018, while 66 percent ranked them in the top three.
Dotan Meirov, a principal at MID House of Diamonds, in the company’s booth at the 2018 JCK Show in Las Vegas.
DE BEERS’ SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT TALK OF SHOW
A chief talking point at the show was the dramatic announcement by De Beers just three days before the start of the event that it would be launching a synthetic diamond jewelry company in September, called Lightbox Jewelry, which would market lab-grown diamonds as fashion rather than fine jewelry, at prices up to 70 percent below being asked by other synthetic diamond producers at present.
The general consensus of attendees at the JCK Las Vegas show, which for the first time this year featured a section devoted to the lab-gown diamond trade, was that De Beers had sucked the air out of the fledgling industry, which would now have to cope with a new market leader and pricing structure that would render at least some of the companies as non-economical.
According to the JCK survey, which was conducted before De Beers’ dramatic announcement, some 19 percent of American jewelry retailers report that they already sell lab-grown diamonds, and of those, and 78 percent anticipate sales of the man-made goods will increase in 2018.