Jewelers of America (JA), the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry marketplace, held theJewelers of America National Convention, an education-focused executive forum open to jewelry professionals, on July 28-29, 2019, at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City. The Convention featured four dynamic keynote speakers, thought provoking breakout sessions, an informativeDiamond Detection Lab and interactive Retail Innovation Lab. Attendees camefrom across the country and around the globe to take part in the inaugural event.

"We knew to be successful with our launch of aNational Convention we had to develop and deliver a compelling, unique experience. Our focus was on providing high-level content about the topics imperative to retailers' businesses," says JA President & CEO David J. Bonaparte. "We were thrilled to bring together a great representation of our membership from across the country and tackle tough topics – like the political climate, macro-economics as well as the evolution of the lab-grown market and innovation in retail tech – in a relaxed and celebratory setting."

The Convention was unique in that it featured four keynotes from experts outside the jewelry industry that delivered inspiring and analytical information to the jewelers in the room.

• Judi Holler, best-selling author of Fear Is My Homeboy®: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms, kicked-off the National Convention by pushing attendees to embrace fear with realistic ways to manage self-doubt and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
• Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report, provided the second keynote with "Election Outlook 2020," where he tackled the presidential election. Attendees praised Cook for making a conversation around politics light, engaging and truly non-partisan. "For the first time, politics will be effecting policy, not policy effecting politics," said Cook.
• Jeff Greenberg, Senior Economist and Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Global Wealth Management, shared short and long-term impacts on the overall health of retail based on the most current macroeconomic outlook. Greenberg used the acronym "SPOIL" to help attendees understand what factors can spoil a U.S. expansion: Supply Chain, Post-war fiscal tightening, Oil shock, Inflation runway, and Leverage excess and asset bubbles.
• Neeraj Mehta, CEO of Synchrony's Payment Solutions platform, featured valuable data from the Synchrony Major Purchase Consumer Study, Fine Jewelry, 2019, including that there has been a forty percent decrease in the time spent in the path to purchase. The study stated that two years ago, the average jewelry customer took 74 days to complete a purchase. Today, that process takes 44 days.

The Diamond Detection Lab, sponsored by De Beers Group Industry Services, gave attendees the opportunity to test a range of diamond detection technology from De Beers Group Industry Services, Gemological Institute of America (GIA), HRD Antwerp, Presidium Instruments, Solitaire Gemmological Laboratories and Yehuda Diamond Co. Given the importance of diamond detection, the Diamond Detection Lab was a busy hub at the Convention.

"Just as diamond detection is critical, so too is retail innovation," says Bonaparte. "To stay successful in today's rapidly changing world, businesses must take risk and innovate." The National Convention was a place for retailers and suppliers to engage with businesses that can help them focus on the future. In the Retial Innovation Lab,demonstrations were conducted from BIG Buyers Intelligence Group, Fire Polish Diamonds, High Level Thinkers, JewelTrace by Spacecode, Outernets, Podium, Smart Age Solutions, Synchrony Mobile Connect, The Edge and Virtual Diamond Boutique.

The Convention breakout sessions and panel discussions were heavily attended. The session topics were: Solving the Challenge of Lab-Grown Diamond Detection, Understanding the Empowered Consumer, Turbo Charging Your Digital Showroom, Enhance the Customer Experience, Update on JA's Consumer Marketing Campaign, Policy & Retail: Why What Happens in D.C. Matters, Making the In-Store Experience Memorable, Selling the New Diamond Story with Diamond Producers Association, Breaking Down Blockchain's Potential for Jewelers, The Customer Mindset: Connecting for Lifetime Loyalty, Are you Ready for the New Sales Tax Landscape?, Disrupting the Marketplace: Opportunities and Challenges of Selling Lab-Grown Diamonds, Social Media Turning Likes into Brand Love, and Responsible Sourcing in the Jewelry Supply Chain: The Kimberley Process & Beyond.

The Jewelers of America National Convention was presented by Synchrony and sponsored by: De Beers Group Industry Services, Chosen Payments, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group, Diamond Producers Association, Indian Diamond and ColorstoneAssociation, GIA, The Edge, Gemological Science International, Asurion, Financial Times, Jules Estate Buyers, National Jeweler and United Precious Metal Refining.

Dates for the next Jewelers of America National Convention will be announced soon.The Jewelers of America National Conventionfull agenda and photos can be found at www.jewelers.org/convention.

Neeraj Mehta and David Bonaparte
Diamond Detection Lab
Judi Holler
Annie Doresca, Jeff Greenberg and John Henne