Vegas Musings: Equal Parts Noise and Inspiration

ColumnistsJun 11, 2024

Vegas Musings: Equal Parts Noise and Inspiration

Fresh off Jewelry Market Week 2024, Peter Smith separates the positive—retail and product innovation—from the positively annoying.

National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith
Peter Smith is an industry consultant, speaker, sales trainer, and author. He can be reached via email at
When I’m invited to speak at events or conferences, I make sure to tell those booking me that I’m not a motivational speaker; I am a truth-teller. I’m a pragmatic optimist who believes in calling it like I see it. 

I highlight the stuff we ought to be doing more of, and the stuff we ought to be doing less of. 

I connect the dots of what I’m seeing and hearing, aligned with what the data tells me, and I make conclusions and recommendations about the best path forward. 

For the life of me, I’ll never understand why anyone ever entertains fire-breathing zealots as speakers, those self-assured prognosticators sharing doomsday scenarios—falling skies and the benefits of underground bunkers, generously stocked with canned goods and bottled water. 

Dale Carnegie wrote, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do.” 

Why we feel the need to put them on stages, let alone on stages during Jewelry Market Week in Las Vegas, will forever be a curiosity to me. 

They are demotivating charlatans, and I wish institutions and businesses would stop booking them, not because we should hide from hard truths, but because despite hard truths, there is much to be excited about in our industry. 

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

Change is ever-present, and, if we’re being honest, we’ve not always handled change well in our business. 

I remember the diamond conference at the Park Plaza in New York in 2004 when the collected angst from retailers about selling diamonds online bordered on insane, as though we could somehow stem the emergence of e-commerce itself. 

There are still legions of retailers who won’t entertain jewelry brands (we’ll leave the definition of “brands” for another column) believing, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, that young shoppers prefer to reward a jeweler’s buying acumen, their skill with a loupe, and the merits of generics in place of relevant brand experiences.  

Having just returned from JCK Las Vegas, I’m still reeling from the chatter and anxiety about lab-grown diamonds. 

We have, once again, chosen to address an innovation in moral terms—righteously indignant, or vehemently pro-lab grown. 

Or, worse yet, we behave like lambs to the slaughter. “What can I do?” one retailer shrugged. “I can’t get my salespeople to sell natural diamonds.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Allow me to connect a few dots.

Lab-grown diamonds are not going anywhere. They won’t disappear because a few zealots preach firebrand from the pulpit, but they are having an impact.

Retailers need a strategy to deal with them, beyond casting aspersions and making predictions based more on hope than expectation.

We are deep into a two-decades long stagnation of foot traffic into retail jewelry stores. The decline is not chronic, but it is a factor.

We could, of course, blame the internet, but the reality is a strong online presence is a boon to great retail experiences, not a detriment. It helps drive qualified customers into physical stores.

The real issue with lab-grown diamonds shouldn’t be a moral conundrum, but the downward pressure on average tickets should be concerning.

If you are seeing fewer customers (and your conversion rate is not materially changing) and your average ticket is declining, that is troubling math, and we ought to be concerned about that.

I steadfastly encourage you to have a strategy to manage and mitigate anything that contributes to a reduction of your average ticket.

You are the captain of your ship, and you should steer a course, with or without lab-grown diamonds, that ensures the health of your business in the near and long term.

As for the good news from the show, there were two things that moved me.

Fire & Ice booth JCK Las Vegas 2024
The Fire & Ice display at the Luxury show at JCK Las Vegas 2024

In the first instance, my client, Fire & Ice, reintroduced the diamond brand, first launched 10 years ago, to great fanfare from current and prospective clients.

There was no shortage of irony in witnessing such excitement for a story in a natural diamond brand against the backdrop of all the lab-grown noise. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been about a finished diamond story.

The second big theme for me was the sheer number of retailers who enthusiastically shared their plans to build new stores.

I’ve attended JCK for decades and I cannot recall a time when there was this much enthusiasm for innovative retail developments

Having retailers walk me through their plans is always fun, but even more so when the quantity of them is exceeded only by the quality of most of the projects.
We’ve seen a gradual decline in the total number of retailers for years, even as total sales in jewelry and watches is today far in excess of pre-pandemic highs. 

There is no question that we are experiencing a significant shift to quality in our business, and I’m all for it.

Happy retailing!

The Latest

Bulgari high jewelry campaign
FinancialsJul 24, 2024
LVMH’s First-Half Jewelry, Watch Sales Dip 5%

Tiffany & Co. is focusing on its “iconic” collections while the company has made changes at the top at TAG Heuer and Hublot.

Chaumet Paris 2024 Olympics medals
MajorsJul 24, 2024
See Chaumet’s Paris Olympic Medals Inspired by its High Jewelry

The Parisian brand is the first jewelry company in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to design the medals.

Jewelers Mutual and Union Life and Casualty logos
MajorsJul 24, 2024
Jewelers Mutual Acquires Pawnbroker Insurance Provider

Union Life & Casualty will join JM Insurance Agency Partners, expanding the provider’s pawnbroker coverage.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Bradlei Smith
MajorsJul 24, 2024
Ben Bridge Announces 2024 Lonia Tate Scholarship Winner

Los Angeles-based Bradlei Smith was selected for this year’s award.

Weekly QuizJul 18, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
De Beers rough diamond display
SourcingJul 23, 2024
De Beers’ Production Drops 15% in Q2

The company also reported the $150 million sale of an iron ore royalty right, part of its ongoing effort to divest “non-core” assets.

Long’s Jewelers giveaway promo
IndependentsJul 23, 2024
Long’s Jewelers Is Giving Away a Luxury Cape Cod Vacation

The giveaway is part of the New England jeweler’s summer bridal event.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Sophia Moreno-Bunge of Isa Isa modeling Guzema’s Hidden Beauty collection
CollectionsJul 23, 2024
Guzema Debuts ‘Flower Power’ Campaign

The ad features three celebrity florists creating floral sculptures while wearing jewelry by Guzema.

Tresia Shituula, Monkgogi Moshaga, Mohamed Samu
Policies & IssuesJul 23, 2024
Diamonds Do Good Announces Its 2024 Entrepreneurship Grant Winners

The grant provided a total of $100,000 to support 13 entrepreneurs from diamond communities in Africa and India.

Ghazi “Gus” Michel Osta
CrimeJul 22, 2024
Florida Jeweler Shot, Killed Following Argument With Customer

Ghazi Michel Osta, or “Gus,” was killed Friday by an 83-year-old man said to be a frequent customer at his store, Volusia Gold & Diamond.

Elyssa Jenkins-Perez and Effie Marinos
Policies & IssuesJul 22, 2024
JVC’s Elyssa Jenkins-Pérez Joins RJC

The organization also announced Effie Marinos as its new specialist advisor for technical standards, as well as four other appointments.

Karen Rentmeesters
SourcingJul 22, 2024
AWDC Names Karen Rentmeesters as CEO

Rentmeesters has served as interim CEO since April following former CEO Ari Epstein’s resignation.

Brian and Jessie Mann
IndependentsJul 19, 2024
Longtime D.C. Jeweler Brian Mann Dies at 70

Mann, whose family’s jewelry store was located inside the Pentagon, is remembered for being a thoughtful champion of the industry.

Tudor store in Denver
IndependentsJul 19, 2024
The 1916 Company Opens New Tudor Boutique

The 500-square-foot boutique is located in Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

Messika’s So Move Max Necklace
CollectionsJul 19, 2024
Piece of the Week: Messika’s ‘So Move Max’ Necklace

Dance all night long with the “So Move Max” set’s necklace.

Julien Tornare and Antoine Pin
WatchesJul 18, 2024
TAG Heuer, Hublot Will Have New CEOs

Luxury giant LVMH is reshuffling the leadership in its watches division.

Etsy billboard rendering in NYC
MajorsJul 18, 2024
New Etsy Campaign Prioritizes Creators Amid Backlash

Sellers and shoppers have spoken out against a rise in mass-produced merchandise on the platform meant to highlight handmade goods.

Ariana Grande Modeling in Swarovski Jewelry
MajorsJul 18, 2024
Swarovski Names Ariana Grande as Its New Brand Ambassador

The celebrity will star in Swarovski’s holiday campaign.

Grizzly emerald
SourcingJul 18, 2024
Grizzly Emerald Auction Garners $32.5 million

The miner said an 835-carat emerald saw “stiff competition” in its July sale.

Tahnee Barbee, Gigi Sui, and Daniela Villacorta
Events & AwardsJul 18, 2024
MJSA Education Foundation Announces 3 Scholarship Winners

The winners were awarded $3,000 each to pursue a professional career in jewelry making and design.

Radhika Merchant’s Wedding Portrait
EditorsJul 17, 2024
6 Lavish Looks from the Ambani Wedding

Feast your eyes on the elaborate jewels worn during the wedding celebration of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant.

Smiling Rocks Haute Couture Dream Necklace
Lab-GrownJul 17, 2024
Lab-Grown Diamond ‘Dream’ Necklace Sells for $122K at Charity Auction

The piece, created by Smiling Rocks, was the top lot at the recent Ormeley Dinner.

Diavik Diamond Mine solar power plant
SourcingJul 17, 2024
Rio Tinto’s Diamond Production Down 28% in Q2

The company’s sole remaining diamond operation, Diavik, produced 702,000 carats of diamonds, down from 970,000 a year ago.

Buccellati high jewelry earrings
FinancialsJul 17, 2024
Richemont’s Q1 Jewelry Sales Up 2%

In contrast, the luxury giant’s watch sales fell 14 percent.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the jewelry design contest.
Events & AwardsJul 16, 2024
2024 AGTA Spectrum Awards Open for Entries

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the jewelry design contest and the deadline for entries has just been extended.

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Macy’s Ends Buyout Talks

The retailer will not be making a deal with Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital Management, opting to focus on its turnaround plan.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy