The 22 Best Quotes from AGS Conclave 2024

EditorsApr 22, 2024

The 22 Best Quotes from AGS Conclave 2024

Editor-in-Chief Michelle Graff shares the standout moments from the education sessions she attended in Austin last week.

American Gem Society Conclave logo 2024
Before last week, I hadn’t been to American Gem Society Conclave since 2018, when it was held in Nashville, Tennessee.

I missed it.

AGS Conclave has always been one of my favorite industry events. It’s the perfect length (three days), and the perfect blend of education, networking, and fun, a testament to the AGS team and board, all of whom know how to put together a well-organized, well-run event.

Conclave 2024, held in Austin, Texas, did not disappoint.

While it would be impossible to summarize all the education sessions I attended in a single article, I did want to share some of my favorite quotes from the three days I spent in the Texas capital. 

On Sex Trafficking in the Marange Diamond Fields
“Diamonds came before the community; it was a community first. That shift into being a mining community brought about a lot of challenges, especially for women.”
— Abigail Sibanda of the Marange Women’s Alliance (MWA)

“And that diamond is finding its way to Antwerp, it’s finding its way to the United States. There are women who are being exploited in the background and nobody is talking about them.”
— Sibanda

“Talk to somebody about this. That will make a difference.”
— Brandee Dallow of Grandview Klein Diamonds

“Female Sex Trafficking in Diamond Mining (Marange, Zimbabwe)” was the most impactful session I attended.

Featuring Sibanda, Dallow and Susan Wheeler of the Responsible Jewelry Transformative, the session detailed how women and girls as young as 13 are lured to Chiadzwa, the area where the Marange diamond fields are located, with the promise of work in the diamond mines only to be trafficked for sex.

Wheeler said MWA is circulating a petition it will be asking diamond industry leaders to sign to pledge their support, cooperation, and engagement with MWA to make the changes needed in order to protect women.

You can sign it too; it’s available online.

On Leadership and Self-Awareness
“I don’t think it’s ever been a tougher time than it is now to lead.”

“When you get feedback you don’t understand, the first thing you have to do is run it by someone else.”

“As a leader, how much are using that lever of vulnerability?”

“Leadership is what people do when you’re not in the room.”

“So many leaders are surrounded by walls, mirrors, and liars.” 

These five quotes came from Tasha Eurich, one of Conclave’s featured speakers this year, though she credited the “walls, mirrors, and liars” quote to Dutch psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries.

I enjoyed her presentation, “Leading With Insight—How Self-Awareness Helps Teams Work and Win Together,” particularly her quote about vulnerability, which highlighted the importance of admitting your imperfections as a leader in order to make yourself more relatable.

On Lab-Grown Diamonds
“I would just caution you from talking about future valuation.”
— Tiffany Stevens of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee

“The word ‘investment’ should never be in anybody’s sales presentation. It should never come out of the mouth of anybody in your store.”
— Joel Hassler of Von Hasle Jewelers

“Every industry is going through disruptions.”
— Rob Bates of JCK online and magazine

“I think the natural diamond business is going to be smaller going forward.”
— Bates

Stevens and Hassler were speaking on a panel titled “Laboratory-Grown Diamonds—Policies, Procedures, and Pricing: What the Retailer Needs to Know,” and, of course, the subject of future value came up.

Bates, meanwhile, was speaking on another panel, “360-Degree View of 2024: Industry Market Outlook, Expert Insights, and Business Opportunities.”

His quote about “disruptions” was in reference to the fact that things are changing for the players in every industry, e.g., hotels with AirBnB, taxis with ride-sharing services, etc., and brought some outside perspective to the discussion.

On Transparency
“Just start asking questions and see how much transparency there is.”

“Don’t be afraid to fail. On your journey of trying to do things differently you’re going to have roadblocks, you’re going to have stumbles. But I’m not giving up … It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.”

These quotes are both from Melissa Quick of Steve Quick Jewelers. She was talking about her journey in trying to source gold responsibly for her store during a panel on the gold supply chain titled “Recycled, Repurposed, Fairmined … Oh My!”

 Related stories will be right here … 

On the Rising Price of Gold
“We’ve been through this before, but it was when gold first shot past $1,000.”
— Larry Rickert of Jim Kryshak Jewelers

“Manufacturers, be careful with your pricing because we are price sensitive and so are our customers.”
— Rickert

“Platinum is having a moment … and it’s obviously completely tied to the gold price.”
— Chris Casey of Tenoris

The price of gold, which was about $2,333/ounce as of press time, came up during the “360-Degree View of 2024” session.

This Advice Is Bananas, B-a-n-a-n-a-s
“‘You wouldn’t believe’—I think those are the three most powerful words in marketing, in business.”

“You guys know you’re not in the jewelry business. You’re in something much more powerful than that.”

“If you’re doing normal, nobody is going to talk about it. Attention beats marketing 1,000 percent of the time.”

“We’re not remembered for our failures; we’re remembered for our hits.”

These final four quotes are from the event’s opening keynote speaker Jesse Cole, founder of Fans First Entertainment and owner of the Savannah Bananas, the Harlem Globetrotters of the baseball world. Cole talked a lot about he and his team’s philosophy around creating a memorable experience.

Look for a longer story later this week on his presentation from National Jeweler Associate Editor and my fellow 2024 Conclave attendee Lenore Fedow.

I hope everyone who attended Conclave enjoyed it and, if there are great quotes I missed, please feel free to email them to me at michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com

If I missed you in Austin, I hope to see you in Vegas. 

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