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Positive Vibes as Las Vegas Shows End

Jun 15, 2022 4:32 AM   By Joshua Freedman and Hannah Blaine
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 Sentiment was high as the 2022 JCK Las Vegas show came to an end, with exhibitors reporting solid orders amid an overall upbeat US retail market.

Robust consumer spending and shortages of goods supported trading, despite concerns about inflation, interest rates and a stock-market decline. Foot traffic was strong following two years of limited gatherings.

“We expected the show to be as good as it used to be, and now that we are here, we know that the show [has been] very, very good for us,” said Senil Lakhani, president of New York-headquartered diamond supplier Kiran Gems USA. “It was a fantastic show this year. We got many new clients and did a lot of business.”

Buyers were genuine in their search for merchandise, noted Vipul Sutariya, director of sales and marketing at India-based polished manufacturer Dharmanandan Diamonds.

“They are seriously looking for the supply, and everybody’s [anticipating] that there might be a supply constraint, because some of the pipeline doesn’t have access to the rough from Russia,” Sutariya told Rapaport News at the show, which closed Monday. “Even though inflation is high, demand for diamonds remains strong.”

Visitors battled long lines to enter the exhibition when it opened on Friday. Appetite for trade shows was sky high as many industry members had been unable to attend events during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year’s show had limited attendance from overseas companies, and many social-distancing rules were still in place.

“The traffic was fantastic,” said Bhavik Gandhi, president of Om Color Diamonds, a wholesaler and manufacturer in New York. “People were lining out the show to get in the first day. From sales to meeting new contacts, it’s been great. The market is very good. Prices are holding [up well].”

Exhibitors gave mixed opinions on whether macroeconomic influences in the US were impacting activity in the jewelry industry. Consumer sentiment fell 14% in early June compared with May, with inflation a major factor, according to the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers.

Some show participants voiced concerns that higher prices of gasoline and other key products were reducing disposable income among jewelry buyers. Others said inflation could benefit the sector.

“In a lot of ways, inflation is having a positive effect because people see [jewelry] as an appreciating asset,” said Sam Sandberg, chairman of jewelry brand A.Jaffe and president of The Plumb Club, an alliance of jewelry suppliers. However, he added, “there’s been some impact on the industry and on higher-ticket [items] from the stock-market decline in the last couple of months.”

As JCK is often a bellwether for the state of the US market, exhibitors expressed confidence that the momentum would persist in the second half of the year, which includes the important holiday season.

Michael Indelicato, CEO and founder of RDI Diamonds, based in Rochester, New York, agreed that attendance at the show was strong.

“I think [the good business] is going to continue for the next few months at least,” he predicted.

Image: The exterior of the Venetian Resort & Sands Expo in Las Vegas, where the JCK Show took place. (JCK Events)
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Tags: inflation, JCK, JCK Las Vegas, Joshua Freedman and Hannah Blaine, las vegas, retail, Trade Shows, US
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