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Sophomore Edition of Watches & Wonders Miami Draws 28,000

Attendance was up 40% at the free event.

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Independents tent

IF I SAID YOU could spend a weekend in February surrounded by blue skies, palm trees, dozens of luxury cars, the finest champagne, extremely large yachts, huge jewels, extraordinary works of art, and the latest releases by some of the world’s most respected Swiss watch brands (whew!), would you do it?

Well, you can, and next year, you should. The sophomore edition of Watches & Wonders Miami this past weekend had all of those magnificent things, J-Lo and A-Rod sightings, and oh, so much more.

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Visited by nearly 28,000 people over three days, according to the event organizers, Watches & Wonders Miami – a joint effort between the Fondation Haute Horlogerie (FHH) and the Miami Design District Associates – is already being hailed as a success with a 40 percent increase in attendance from its first edition in 2018. What makes this event different from watch-oriented fairs such as Baselworld, however, is that the event is open to the public for its duration and doesn’t charge an entry fee. Oh, and the fact that the event is held outside in 80-degree weather rather than in the middle of a Switzerland winter doesn’t hurt, either.

Another plus to Watches & Wonders Miami is that guests are invited to visit many of the brands and see their latest novelties in their pre-existing boutiques located in the Miami Design District in lieu of booths at a traditional trade fair. This makes for an intimate environment for those in attendance, and in some cases, buyers are treated to additional perks like visiting Cartier’s rooftop VIP lounge (I may or may not have had a glass of wine or two up there. I’ll never tell.) Attendees also have a variety of opportunities to learn more about the watchmaking world through the classes, seminars, lectures and panels set up at varying times throughout each day. For example, if independent watchmaking is your thing and brands like H. Moser & Cie or F.P. Journe are what you covet, then you likely would have wanted to hang around the independents tent where many pop-up shops were located and where several panels on collecting independent watches were held.

As a first-time attendee of the three-day event, what I probably liked most about it was that there wasn’t this separation of Richemont brands versus LVMH brands versus Swatch Group brands versus independent brands. I was running from Zenith to Romain Gauthier, then from Omega to Girard-Perregaux for appointments, which is something I could never do at one of the other watch fairs.

Watches & Wonders Miami offers an opportunity for those who may not be able to attend the SIHH in Geneva or fork out the thousands of bucks it often costs to get to Baselworld.

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Those who are members of the press, or who are collectors, or who are just your everyday watch enthusiasts can come and see the latest releases, and in some cases, releases specific to W&WM. And as a bonus, there is jewelry, too, including pieces by master craftsman Sevan Biçakçi, who was at the event to showcase his line of incredible one-of-a-kind watches nine (nine!) years in the making.

For now, Watches & Wonders Miami is one of the few watch events held in the U.S. that brings together brands as established and recognized as those exhibiting there. And with some of the international watch shows falling apart at the seams, it looks like it could be around for a long time to come.

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Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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That Weird ‘Diamond in a Diamond’ Isn’t for Sale. It Will Go Here Instead …

Alrosa revealed the find in September.

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RUSSIA’S ALROSA DIAMOND mining company announced Thursday that the curious “diamond in a diamond” revealed on social media in early September has been added to its collection of rare finds — and is not for sale.

In early September, Alrosa surprised its Instagram followers with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond moving freely in the cavity of a larger one (pictured above). The caption read, “A diamond in a diamond? We couldn’t help but share this very special find with you.”

At the time, Alrosa wasn’t quite sure what to make of the phenomenon. Nobody at the mining company had ever seen anything like it. Five weeks later, Alrosa scientists confirmed that both the host and smaller crystal were diamonds.

They named the double-diamond “Matryoshka” because its strange configuration is reminiscent of the popular Russian nesting dolls. The specimen, which weighs only 0.62 carats, was discovered in Yakutia at Alrosa’s Nyurba mining and processing division.

Matryoshka joins Alrosa’s ever-growing collection of diamond wonders. These include crystals that resemble a soccer ball, a Valentine heart, a skull and a fish.

Interestingly, some of Alrosa’s most unusually shaped diamonds have come to light at the most opportune times.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram. Soccer ball image by Pumbaa80 (Self-published work by Pumbaa80) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

For instance, an Alrosa discovery in July of 2018 had us wondering out loud if Mother Nature was a World Cup soccer fan. Just three days prior to the Russian national soccer team’s exciting quarterfinal match against Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Alrosa discovered a diamond that looks amazingly like a soccer ball.

In February of 2019, Alrosa revealed a 65.7-carat rough diamond that had an uncanny resemblance to a Valentine heart.

“Diamonds of a distinctive shape that resemble some object or symbol are extremely rare in nature,” Alrosa’s deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev said at the time. “Most rough diamonds are octahedron-shaped or do not have a particular shape at all. The appearance of a heart-shaped rough diamond, especially on the eve of Valentine’s Day, seems to be a symbolic gift of nature not only to our company, but also to all loving couples.”

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram.

Alrosa noted that a 24-carat, skull-shaped stone was unearthed prior to Halloween in 2018.

In August of 2019, the company posted to Instagram a photo of a rough stone resembling a fish. It had been discovered back in 2002, and was revisited to help promote the firm’s ecology efforts, which include releasing hundreds of thousands of fish into the rivers near its mining operation in Yakutia.

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Upping the Game: Why Dubai Watch Week is the Perfect Example of How to Run a Fair

A key factor: There’s no pressure to buy or sell.

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WATCHMAKING CLASSES TAUGHT by Swiss masters. Luxury hotel rooms at the new Waldorf Astoria. Daily gourmet breakfasts. Seven limited-edition timepieces being released. Three-course lunches in a Cipriani pop-up. Thirteen education panels featuring world-renowned speakers. An international press squad representing over 45 media titles. And Jean-Claude Biver dropping knowledge and signing books. Any one of these would be enough to raise the level at most watch-related trade shows or fairs, but when you combine them and place them into a setting like Dubai, the result is almost unfathomable. Unless, of course, you lived it, which is exactly what I was privileged enough to do just over a week ago.

For the third year in a row, I was invited by the team at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Dubai Watch Week to attend a horological event they were organizing. Two years ago, it was to visit the third edition of Dubai Watch Week in Dubai as a member of the press. Last year, it was an event they were holding in London in collaboration with Christie’s Auction House called “Horology Forum.” I was asked to be one of five panel moderators for that event; an honor which I never thought could be matched. That is, until this year when again I was invited by DWW to moderate the final panel, entitled “Hot Potato.” Each of my experiences has been extraordinary.

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The No. 1 characteristic that separates Dubai Watch Week from any other watch fair (or jewelry event, for that matter) is that there is no pressure to buy or sell. In the U.S., the closest we have to that experience is the American Gem Society Conclave, which I’ve often compared to Dubai Watch Week on an education level. But in terms of pulling in a worldwide audience that includes watch brands, retailers, collectors, journalists, scientists, speakers and skilled artisans, there is no other fair that can hold a candle to this one, and the other watch fairs know it.

In 2017, I left Dubai thinking to myself that I had just left the most organized event I’d ever attended. In my mind it was flawless, leaving very little room for improvement, and yet when I stepped onto the impeccably pristine grounds of the DIFC this year I was flabbergasted. It was not just grander from a visual standpoint, but the program itself read like perfection. Panel topics at the “Horology Forum” covered everything from how smart watches are affecting today’s watch sales, to what really happens when you’re put on a waiting list for a watch, to how women come to power in fields largely dominated by men, to how industry outsiders (like award-winning actor Aldis Hodge and quantum physicist Michael Biercuk) are finding their place in the watch community. Attendees were also treated to events held in the “Creative Hub,” where several watch brands discussed their histories and where some even released new limited-edition timepieces in conjunction with Dubai Watch Week. Watchmaking classes were taught in a separate pop-up venue, as well as classes on watch design, dial painting, engraving and more. Christie’s even had its own auction room on premises where one could attend talks on topics such as the restoration of timepieces and why vintage Patek Philippes are so sought after. And, because DWW gets it, there was a children’s program. Yes … an actual children’s program! Because let’s face it, kids will eventually determine the success of the watch industry, both as future buyers and as future artisans, so why not teach them how special watchmaking is now, right?

As the days turned into nights, the festivities didn’t slow down. There were cocktail events by Tudor, Grand Seiko, Ulysse Nardin, HYT, Bell & Ross, Roger Dubuis, Girard Perregaux and others. Oh, and if you tired of any of those, Chopard pretty much had its own nightclub set up, complete with a well-known Dubai D. J. and plenty of industry personalities.

These days, as an almost-47-year-old woman, I feel that the older I get the harder I am to impress. I’ve done a lot in my life, and I’ve seen even more, so when something comes along that is special – truly special – I sit up and take notice, and often will do my best to tell the world about it. This is exactly what Dubai Watch Week makes me want to do. Everyone from their smiling security guards, to their wonderful public relations and press teams, all the way up to Hind Seddiqi – the director general of Dubai Watch Week – went out of their way to make sure that every person in attendance was taken care of, and that everyone had an experience unlike any other. Hind and her entire team succeeded in accomplishing that, yet again, which makes me wonder how the 2021 edition could possibly get any better. Although, seeing what the DWW organizers have been capable of so far, I’m sure it will be otherworldly.

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Editor's Note

For Jewelry Retailers, Being With Family Often Means Being At Work

But most say they enjoy spending so much time with relatives.

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FOR MOST PEOPLE, the holiday season means spending time with family. For most independent jewelry retailers, the holiday season means spending a whole whole lot of time with family.

That’s because being in the jewelry business frequently means being in the family business, with retail stores passed on from generation to generation. Brothers, sisters, cousins, in-laws, parents and grandparents all work together on a daily basis.

The average layperson might think that these jewelry families would be at each other’s throats since they’re around each other so often. But we’ve found that most in jewelry retail say they not only work well with family members, they enjoy it.

That’s why we thought it would be fun (and instructive) to do a photo essay on jewelry retailers who work with family members. Now, the story is not exhaustive by any means! After all, since you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you work with at least one relative yourself. But in reading about other families who work together in a small business like your own, we hope you’ll see yourself in them — and hopefully pick up some tips to improve relations in your own store along the way.

Being part of a family isn’t always easy. But being part of a family that also works together can be especially stressful — although many of you make it look easy. We hope your family has a fabulous holiday season, and we’ll see you on the other side of the new year!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

 

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Launch three new Pinterest pages: Last-minute gift ideas for her; Last-minute gift ideas for him; Gift ideas under $100. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 28)
2. Post photos of two best-selling jewelry pieces on Facebook each day, one when you open and the other around 3 p.m. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 28)
3. Limit the number of pieces that can be presented to a customer to between one and three pieces of jewelry or watches at a time, and post signage of this policy. (Ask INSTORE, p. 52)
4. Add one or two new descriptive words to your sales presentation, and then add more as you become comfortable with them. (Ask INSTORE, p. 54)
5. Always include some of the relevant search keywords you determined for your business in your social media posts. (Maccaroni, p. 53)

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