The rescheduled JCK Show and JCK Luxury Show due to be held from August 24 to 30, 2021, at the Venetian Resort & Sands Expo at 201, Sands Avenue, Las Vegas, was held as scheduled despite the low turnout and participation at the shows, caused by the rapid spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the US.
Despite the low turnout and absence of some major players in the industry, participants at the shows expressed satisfaction at the amount of business they were able to conduct during the week and the trade connections they were able to make with serious buyers in the trade.
The show kicked off with the Couture and Antique Jewellery & Watch shows, which was held at the Wynn Hotel Complex from August 24 to 26 and the JCK Luxury fair by invitation only, which ran from August 24 to 30 at the Sands Expo Convention Center. The JCK main show also held at the Sands Expo, started on August 27 and was closed on August 30, 2021.
While the number of exhibitors and visitors were down at all the fairs, those who participated were considered as serious buyers and sellers who actually came to do business. Owner of Israeli-based VMK Diamonds, a supplier of fancy-colored diamonds, commenting on the show, said, “I am so glad I came. I met a lot of people and those people came to do business.” Another participant, a New York-based diamantaire said, “There were serioius buyers. We made sales with immediate payment, which doesn’t always happen at the shows.” Other participants too echoed the same views and sentiments, that serious buyers were in attendance. Michael Indelicato, CEO of New York-based polished diamond supplier, RDI Diamonds, who was an exhibitor at the JCK Show, said, “The show was not great, but it was good. Our sales were about the same as a pre-pandemic show. And that too from the fewer people, who were here.”
While high-profile exhibitors and buyers, as well as major wholesalers and retailers were notably absent from the show, most of those who attended and were more prevalent at the show, were independent jewelers and small scale dealers. According to Amit Mehta, CEO of Jewelry division at Dharm International New York, most of these independent jewelers and small scale dealers were looking for goods ahead of the holiday season. Another interesting observation that was made by a representative of a jewelry design house that exhibited at the Couture and Antique Jewellery & Watch shows, the first show that kicked off on August 24, was that while some people cancelled participating in the show at the last minute, others decided to come at the last minute when they saw the crowds at the Couture Show.
International dealers from countries like Belgium, India and Israel were not able to attend the show due to Covid-related travel restrictions imposed in those countries. According to Eshvar Kotahwala of the New York-based dealer Vinod Kotahwala, “the show floor lacked the usual liveliness that we get from dealers running around and looking for offers. The international dealers bring a buzz that attracts people into the diamond area. Hence, this year we were just another pavilion. However, those who came made offers, and if you had the right goods, you could sell. There is a lack of goods on the market, so it’s tough to buy.”
According to Amit Mehta, the buyers were very targeted in what they were looking for, and if you had the inventory, they bought on the spot. He further stated that the demand was there, but there were issues on the supply side. Besides this, the high rough prices had caused people to start curtailing their purchases of these goods. Several market participants noted that while inventory levels had risen in recent months, there was a scarcity of the right goods at a profitable price.
The general concensus among participants was that the constant demand for diamonds and jewelry
was due to the positive consumer demand, the momentum at retail having a trickle-down effect along the supply chain, as claimed by Amit Mehta. Accordingly both suppliers and buyers at JCK concurred that year 2021 had been a stellar year for the diamond and jewelry trade. Eshvar Kotahwala opined, that having notched strong sales in the first eight months of the year, retailers were low on inventorry, which prompted them to attend the show and make orders for the future. The delay in holding the show by two months due to the pandemic, also injected some urgency into the market during the events. According to the CEO of Le Vian Brand, Eddie Levian, there is a only a very small window for suppliers to prepare orders between now and the holiday season.
Hence, this means the post-show follow-up is as important as the event itself, given that the holiday season is approaching. Based on the results of the show, dealers are now confident about the US market for the remainder of year 2021. However, New York diamantaire Michael Indelicato, is optimistic that as Christmas approaches there will be an increase in demand for polished diamonds and this demand and prices will remain strong at least until the first quarter of year 2022. He believes there is a pent-up demand for diamonds and the positive momentum is being driven by consumer demand. He concluded on an optimistic note saying, “We have had the best year ever and retailers need goods, which was clearly evident at the show.”