The Conference hosted GJEPC members--many of them De Beers sightholders and Rio Tinto Diamond’s Select Diamantaires, ranking amongst the biggest diamond jewelry manufacturers in the world--and U.S. retailers representing over 15 percent of annual U.S. fine jewelry retail sales by value.
Vipul Shah, GJEPC’s Chairman said, “We envision this type of event as an ongoing platform for members of this most critical link in the international fine jewelry supply chain to build one-on-one sourcing relationships and to address broader issues to increase efficiency and profitability within the sourcing process.” Sohil Kothari, Director at Fine Jewellery Mfg., Mumbai, who chaired the event's Manufacturer's Committee, said, "The U.S. is the world's largest jewelry retail market, and these top retailers are our most important customers.” He added that, "We are extremely pleased with the results. Manufacturers and retailers had fruitful individual meetings and worked excellently as a group to address issues of mutual concern." On the supply side, manufacturers included KGK Creations, Kama Schacter, Supergems and Uni-Design. On the retail side attendees included Sterling, Reeds of NC, IJO and Ross Simons.
At a joint supplier-retailer moderated panel session on Saturday, May 2, the groups focused on the need to create an industry-collective marketing and advertising program. Conference leadership pledged to report the work accomplished in the session to GJEPC leadership to ensure the new coalition's perspective is represented in current talks the Council is participating in at the global level.
"Indian supply to U.S. retail is the single largest link in the international fine jewelry supply chain. We're honored to have produced and to be spearheading this conference series as a dedicated working force to tackle issues critical to the ongoing interests of both groups," says Whitney Sielaff, co-founder and Strategic Director of S&B Partners, which organized the conference, and who served as moderator and co-host for the event.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India’s Chicago office, officially opened the conference. He reiterated India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for the diamond and jewelry sector at the recent World Diamond Conference held in New Delhi due to its huge employment potential and export focus. Sayeed acknowledged the role of the GJEPC in fostering ongoing trade development both in his region and throughout the U.S. and India. Keynote presentations spanned topics of importance to both stakeholder groups. Benjamin Smithee, Chief Strategy Officer, RELEVENTS, New York, and former principal of Spych Market Analytics, Dallas, provided the opening Keynote, with a presentation on “Today's Changing Jewelry Consumer” Ben Janowski, principal, Janos Consultants, New York, delivered the Industry Keynote: "The Ugly, the Bad, the Good...and the Maybes". Barbara Raleigh, principal, International Design Source, New York, addressed product innovation in her presentation on "The Design and Fashion Imperative".
The conference concluded with a Town Hall-style meeting.