Nashville Is Great, and 4 Other Lessons from Conclave

EditorsApr 27, 2018

Nashville Is Great, and 4 Other Lessons from Conclave

Editor-in-Chief Michelle Graff shares her takeaways from AGS Conclave 2018.


I was in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week covering American Gem Society’s Conclave. It was my third—I attended Seattle in 2008 and Washington, D.C. in 2016—and I enjoyed it, as I always do.

I walked away with a number of story ideas that I’ll be working on in the weeks to come, but, as we wrap up the week that was Conclave 2018, I wanted to share a handful of quick takeaways on what I saw as some of the major themes that emerged at the three-day event.

1. Adapting to change was a big topic.

Marie Osmond addressed change in her lengthy lunchtime keynote address Monday, and emcee Joel Zeff did the same in his improv skit-centered session on Monday afternoon.

Zeff’s presentation, “The Tao of Change,” was fun and felt more like an evening at the Upright Citizens Brigade than a late-in-the-day education session at a work conference. He called on volunteers to act out various scenarios, all of which were improvised and, therefore, required the actors to adapt to change quickly and work together.

Change also came up in a Monday afternoon session led by Forevermark U.S. President Charles Stanley, who shared insights from De Beers’s proprietary research.

Chief among the changes he noted was the shifiting role of and attitude toward women—meaning the rise of movements like #MeToo and the renewed push for equal pay— which, he said, is “really significantly impacting all consumer purchases today,” and diamond jewelry is certainly not excluded from that.  

In its 2017 Diamond Insight Report, De Beers noted that between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of diamond jewelry that women in the U.S. market bought for themselves increased from 23 percent to 33 percent.

2. Cybersecurity was too.

When releasing its crime report for 2017, the Jewelers Security Alliance called attention to the increase in cybercrime. Losses connected to crimes perpetrated using the internet averaged $1.2 million last year, and the year-over-year increase was so significant that the JSA made cybercrime its own category for the first time.

At Conclave, there were two sessions dedicated to cybersecurity, including the one I attended Monday led by Mary Myers, an information security analyst with Jewelers Mutual. You can read all about it here.

3. Jewelry store employees need training on taking in appraisals.

On Tuesday, I attended a session led by Sherrie Taylor, an independent appraiser from Canada, outlining common myths about jewelry appraisals.


a subject that certainly warrants a more in-depth article in the future, but one quick takeaway is that employees often neglect to ask the key question when a customer brings in a piece of jewelry for appraisal, which is: What is the purpose of the appraisal?

The appraiser needs to know what the piece is being appraised for—estate, probate, divorce, immediate resale, etc.—in order to do a proper evaluation, but employees often fail to collect this information.

One jeweler in attendance shared a practice that other attendees seemed interested in adopting. He said he developed a form that contains check boxes for a couple of the most common reasons for getting an appraisal, like insurance, and then has an “Other” box with a few lines under it. Employees can check “other” and then write out the “why” of the appraisal.

4. There are misconceptions about photo rights and Instagram.

One of the last sessions I attended was Sara Yood’s on copyright, trademark and patent law. Yood is the senior counsel at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. I’ll also be writing more extensively about this session later but wanted to share one lesson right now.

Toward the end of the presentation, Yood covered the right of publicity, which is the right of an individual to control the commercial use (meaning in advertising, marketing, etc., not in the news) of her or his name, image and likeness.

What this means is that you can’t use an image of a celebrity wearing your jewelry without her or his permission. What’s more, if the image was taken by a photo agency, like Getty, then you have to license the photo from that agency.

A jewelry designer in the audience asked: Don’t people give up that right when they post their image on Instagram?

No, said Yood, an individual is not releasing her or his rights when they share a picture on the social media site. You cannot take an image and use it without permission just because it was on Instagram.

5. I will return to Nashville.

Conclave marked my first trip to Music City. I lived not too far—in Atlanta—from 2000 to 2007, but I don’t remember there being quite the buzz about Nashville then as there is now.

On Tuesday night, a group of companies sponsored a concert at 3rd and Lindsley featuring The Time Jumpers, a country music supergroup with a rotating cast that currently includes Vince Gill.

I’m not a country music or a Vince Gill fan, but live music is one of my passions and seeing such a talented group of musicians together was a treat. The Time Jumpers were fantastic. For anybody who wants to check them out, go to 3rd and Lindsley on a Monday night. 

Afterward, I headed out to Broadway (Nashville’s equivalent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans or, perhaps a better comparison, Beale Street in Memphis) with a colleague to hear a little more, and we didn’t even know where to start. There was good live music pouring out of every bar, and it was just a Tuesday night.

Earlier in the week, I took a walk and passed a few cute shops, the famous Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry until the mid-‘70s, and a spot where they were giving trolley tours of Nashville. I am putting all of these on my to-do list for a return trip.

Have a great weekend, y’all.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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