Does the industry need yet another association? By all accounts, the Jewelry Industry Summit, held March 11–13 at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, was an extremely positive event that provided a much-needed forum for the industry to discuss how it fits into the new environment of ethical consumerism. The question is: Where does it go from here?
I have attended many meetings on these topics that were organized with the best of intentions but soon petered out. A few factors make me hopeful this particular event might have a greater impact: First, it was run by two facilitators. They were widely praised for specifying both an agenda and an end point.
JCK publisher Mark Smelzer particularly liked the format, which downplayed presentations in favor of an “appreciative inquiry” style that stressed participant interaction.
“It was a night-and-day contrast to just sitting in an auditorium,” he says. “We were seriously engaged and challenged.”
Second, while the summit drew the usual suspects—industry members and others who have already hopped on board the ethical consumer trend—it also lured a few who aren’t traditionally involved with these issues. In at least a few cases it got them excited about the topic.
While some in the colored gemstone sector—generally composed of both small companies and small miners—have expressed reluctance about these events, the representatives of gem associations who attended say they appreciated the dialogue.