Deserted: The Tradeshow that Wasn’t (And My Vision for What it Could’ve Been)

My suitcase is empty. Dresses hang in the closet, high heels and sandals remain neatly stacked in their boxes, and I can’t even find my bathing suits. Folders containing last year’s notes and floor plans and meeting schedules are curling at the corners. A thin layer of dust coats the badge flair pins from February’s Tucson trip.

The playground known as Sin City is dark, and it won’t be lighting up as it usually would for Jewelry Week 2020.

Part of me — a big part — is sad about the loss of the industry’s largest US tradeshow, normally a time for transacting business and socializing with old and new friends from around the world. For many it’s the only time we’re all together in the same place, this annual gathering of sparkling gems, bright lights, long days, and late nights.

Anyone who knows me has probably heard me wax passionate about how much I love tradeshows, because despite the aching feet and exhaustion, I always leave feeling invigorated by the conversations I have with people about topics that are relevant and important to so many of us.

But now I’m left to wonder: what would this year have looked like? What would’ve been the vibe, the gossip, the things learned and relationships forged?

Would the analysts and tastemakers have called it the “New Roaring Twenties” and commented on the welcome comeback of Art Deco style? Would synthetic diamonds still dominate the trade conversations, or would the rise of consumer demand for ethical mining and disclosure reign supreme?

Or perhaps we’d focus on the benefits of so-called “alternative” bridal trends, celebrating colored gems and women proposing and the nonsense of the term “mangagement ring.” We’d be thrilled to make better margins on unique jewelry and we’d endlessly debate the benefits of pushing custom design vs. the rise of cheaply-made “crafty” jewelry popularized by certain online pinboard websites.

Oh! And the panels and speakers and thought leaders would be a diverse and surprisingly balanced mix of genders, ages, nationalities, experience levels, and industry sectors. We’d learn from each other without judgement, teaching and talking and pushing the boundaries of how we operate as a luxury industry in a rapidly-evolving world.

We wouldn’t limit ourselves to telling Boomers how to market to Millennials or Gen X how to capture Gen Z. We wouldn’t say there’s no room at the table for virtual showrooms or 3D printing or photo-realistic rendering or holograms or scanning or Instagram Live or optimizing website for mobile or (deep breath) TikTok.

We would absolutely not insist that watches are doomed, natural gems and diamonds are doomed, retail is doomed. Instead, there would be productive conversation about how these sectors need to adapt in order to thrive, and just maybe we’d throw out some innovative solutions that would help businesses pivot and grow.

My vision for Jewelry Week 2020 is inclusive, holistic, and uplifting. It would be an inspiration, a banner year for positive thinking and optimism, growth and expansion.

When you imagine what this year’s show (or hell, the whole year) could’ve been, what do you see?

 

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