By Whitney Sielaff

Yesterday, Friday morning, was the first in our series of four breakfast educational sessions at the 2009 Couture show. Held at the opulent Wynn Hotel, the breakfasts are part of our America's Best Jewelers program, which not only recognizes top-performing companies but also brings them together to work toward solutions to common challenges.NJ Headshot

Yesterday's topic was social networking, and it was the first time I witnessed live the extent to which forward-thinking jewelers are embracing these newly available tools. Four panelists joined me, as moderator, and interacted with a room of a hundred or so jewelers in covering topics from Facebook to the even newer phenomenon of Twitter.
The model for successful jewelry retailing is changing so rapidly that it's hard to see how companies that don't embrace--and excel--in social networking will really be able to survive profitably in the new marketplace. It would be as if a traditional jeweler had never learned the basics of advertising and marketing. You just can't run a business without the standard tools of operation, and today, this includes social networking to build relationships with customers and stay connected.
The thing is, it's not difficult to get started on it. And some of the amazing success stories I heard yesterday confirmed my belief that this is truly the wave of the future.
There's a lot more to be said on the topic, obviously, but I need to get downstairs to this morning's session, which will focus on employee training and compensation. It's being led by our educational sponsor, Jewelers of America. 
If you're here in Las Vegas, join us for today, tomorrow, or Monday's sessions. I'll be back moderating tomorrow, when we'll share and discuss in-store events. We'll finish up on Monday with inventory management. These are great sessions, and everyone always walks away wiser.
You can also join the America's Best Jewelers Network online at To become a member, you must be a JBT-listed North American fine jewelry retailer. I'll approve you, and you can join in discussions with 500 of your peers on our industry's only jeweler-to-jeweler social network.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.