By Brecken Branstrator
There are a number of changes coming to Las Vegas jewelry market week this year, including Couture adding a number of education sessions to the jewelry trade show event.
It’s a time of sea change in the jewelry trade show world.

Market19 Article Page 315x258Attendance continues to decline amid slimmer profit margins, the growing expense for both exhibitors and buyers, competition from e-commerce, and the decline in the number of physical jewelry stores.

But one major battleground for the industry’s biggest trade show organizers—Las Vegas market week—is undergoing big changes in 2019 that will show whether they’re doing enough to stay relevant to the jewelers and manufacturers who once attended the same run of shows every year, without a second thought.

The landscape in Las Vegas this year has a markedly different feel, with the jewelry industry’s largest trade show in North America, JCK Las Vegas, heading back to the Sands Expo and Convention Center, where it held court from 1992-2010.

This will place JCK once again in proximity to Emerald Expositions’ high-end Couture show at Wynn Las Vegas, pleasing buyers who like to attend both shows but were put off by the long ride back and forth when JCK was at Mandalay Bay.

The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), meanwhile, will play host to three co-locating shows that are marketing together as “The Collective.” AGTA GemFair Las Vegas has parted ways with JCK Las Vegas to take up residence alongside Emerald Expositions’ Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, as well as a new Emerald show called Premier.

Premier is being positioned as a lower cost, design-focused alternative to both Couture and JCK’s Las Vegas and Luxury shows. But it brings with it the question of how the jewelry sector will respond to yet another trade show.

Yes, it’s an industry in flux, and Las Vegas 2019 will prove telling when it comes to gauging the future look, feel and structure of trade shows in the jewelry industry.

JCK: Returning Home
Reed Exhibitions Senior Vice President Yancy Weinrich tells National Jeweler that JCK Las Vegas’ move in 2011 to Mandalay Bay was customer driven. So, not surprisingly, JCK Las Vegas’s return to the Sands’ newly renovated space in 2019 was driven by the show’s customers once again.

What changed? JCK customers over at Mandalay Bay started missing the after-show-hours amenities, like restaurants and shops, which are on the north end of the Strip by the Sands, says Weinrich.

20190507 LV SandsExpo 1

The Sands (pictured above) also invested heavily in upgrading its tired, old facility, not only giving the space a facelift but also reimagining it to allow for better traffic flow and setting up new sound and lighting technology.

For attendees and exhibitors at JCK Las Vegas, who might feel disoriented at first, there’s more good news. Many aspects of the show, which hosts more than 2,000 exhibitors, will stay the same despite the move.

JCK Las Vegas will still have a Plumb Club Pavilion and a separate Luxury area, for example.

And coming along with JCK Las Vegas and Luxury to the Sands will be Reed Exhibitions’ cash-and-carry jewelry trade show, JIS Exchange.

Reed bought Jewelers International Showcase in 2015 and expanded the JIS shows from Miami to Vegas in 2016. JIS Exchange was held at the Tropicana Las Vegas its first two years and then moved to Mandalay Bay with the rest of the shows under the Reed umbrella last year.
“People consume information differently, so we’re doing shorter, pithier kinds of quick sound bites—really good takeaways that attendees can take back to their businesses, but in shorter blocks.” — Yancy Weinrich, Reed Exhibitions
Other aspects of JCK Las Vegas, meanwhile, will be enhanced, says the show organizer.

Several years ago, JCK began providing personalized “matchmaking” opportunities for exhibitors and attendees.

Through this technology, the show can gather information from both during registration and show floor activities to understand their habits, needs and patterns, Weinrich says.

The show then can utilize a tactic employed by major e-commerce players these days: offering further suggestions based on similar companies in which the retailers already have shown interest.

“As we learn more each year, our matches become smarter and more relevant,” Weinrich says. “With the data and history we have, we continue to see our customer satisfaction scores significantly increase in double-digits for those attendees that engage with this free service.”

Also for 2019, Reed has partnered with the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) on a global gemstone pavilion and is expanding the scope of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance pavilion to focus on cyber security as well as physical store safety.

20190507 LV JCK 1A shot from JCK Las Vegas 2018. This year, the jewelry trade show is scheduled to run from May 31 to June 3, relocating from Mandalay Bay to the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
JCK Las Vegas also is changing the format for its education sessions. The talks will still take place on the show floor and in meeting rooms but will be shorter, running 30 or 45 minutes instead of an hour or more.

“People consume information differently, so we’re doing shorter, pithier kinds of quick sound bites—really good takeaways that attendees can take back to their businesses, but in shorter blocks,” Weinrich says.

The Collective
The first of the three shows that make up “The Collective” at the Las Vegas Convention Center is AGTA GemFair Las Vegas, formerly a part of JCK Las Vegas.

American Gem Trade Association CEO Doug Hucker says that while GemFair did well as part of the bigger JCK show, the costs involved in exhibiting at the renovated Sands were too high for its members, many of which are smaller companies working with a specialized clientele.

Despite knowing some exhibitors would opt to stay with JCK Las Vegas, Hucker says it made sense for AGTA to align GemFair with the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, which moved from the Paris hotel to the LVCC (pictured below) in 2017.

“It’s a similar kind of approach, where they [the antique show’s exhibitors] have one-of-a-kind, bespoke or non-repeatable items, like our members, so it seemed like a very good fit,” he says.

20190507 LV LVCC 1

AGTA GemFair’s move during Las Vegas market week this year will also create an atmosphere that allows buyers the opportunity to shop for a specific product—gems—in a focused manner, rather than being overwhelmed by too many offerings, says Hucker.

Emerald Expositions’ decision to start Premier, the third jewelry trade show at LVCC, was triggered by AGTA’s decision to move GemFair, says Emerald Expositions Senior Vice President Gannon Brousseau.

He explains: “Our JA New York exhibitors have long been asking us to launch an event during Las Vegas market week. We’ve heard from many brands and designers over the years that there wasn’t an existing show in Las Vegas that met their expectations in terms of cost effectiveness and also provided them with a positive overall show experience.”

After seeing the possibilities of aligning with two other popular shows, Emerald determined 2019 was the right time to introduce Premier.

For jewelry buyers already heading to LVCC for gems and antique jewelry, Premier will provide them with a third key component—contemporary designer fine jewelry and fine jewelry manufacturers, says Emerald.
“They [the antique show’s exhibitors] have one-of-a-kind, bespoke or non-repeatable items, like our members, so it seemed like a very good fit.” — Doug Hucker, AGTA
For exhibitors, especially smaller contemporary designers, Premier is a way to exhibit among other similarly minded creatives at a fraction of the cost of Emerald’s high-end Couture show. And Emerald also hopes proximity to AGTA’s colored gem dealers will provide Premier brands and designers with sources for their colored gem needs.

Last fall, the three co-locating trade shows announced they would be pooling marketing efforts to make a bigger impact.

“The Collective” campaign, which encompasses a website as well as print and digital ads, includes taglines—“Reimagining the Market Week Experience” and “1 Badge, 1 Hall, 3 Shows”—designed to remind the trade of the shared location and dates, and that only one badge is needed to get into all three.

The AGTA got a head start by getting the word out at its February GemFair in Tucson, posting news about its move, The Collective, and the benefits, which include codes for free Lyft and Uber rides between locations during market week.

AGTA made a point to ask Tucson attendees at registration if they wanted to be pre-registered for its Las Vegas event, to which about 3,000 people said “yes,” Hucker says. They won’t necessarily all come, he allows, but it’s “a great start.”

As a side note, both organizations confirmed that the Las Vegas Convention Center’s ongoing expansion and renovation project will have no effect on the shows this year or in the future. (Developers are currently adding a 600,000-square-foot exhibition hall to the center, with renovation of all existing halls to follow.)

Couture 2019
There aren’t major changes at Couture this year, but as of this writing, Emerald Expositions was in the process of creating several education initiatives for the show. (More information has been made available since publication of the 2019 Market Issue in print, with Couture releasing speaker and session information.)

“For many years, we’ve held off on producing any education events because we didn’t feel our community would be receptive to them,” Brousseau says. “However, based on the feedback we have been receiving, we are confident we’ll get a very enthusiastic response to the programs we’re developing.”

20190507 LV Couture 1Buyers visit a booth at the 2018 Couture show. The 2019 edition of the jewelry trade show is scheduled to take place May 30-June 3 at the Wynn Las Vegas.

A Positive Outlook
It remains to be seen what effect political and economic situations, both in the United States and abroad, will have on the trade leading up to the shows, but organizers are taking an optimistic viewpoint when it comes to Las Vegas 2019.

“Jewelers today are very protective of their time, and they don’t have time to just wander around and look and shop and things like that,” Hucker says. “They shop with a plan, and we know that color is an important part of their plan, so we’re excited.”

Weinrich, too, says the response to JCK Las Vegas’s return to the Sands has been so positive that she believes even attendees who might have taken a year or two off, or come to Vegas only every other year, will be back in 2019.

“We feel really strongly that we have a great message and story to tell them about why it’s important to come this year … not only for the building but also the experience, the inspiration, the education. We’re investing a lot of money in it; we’re going to take it to a new level. I feel really good about it going into the show.”

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