International jewelry and watches specialists: 24 stories about their work and life in the lockdown.
Sonia Esther Soltani the editor in chief at Rapaport, overseeing the monthly trade magazine, JewelryConnoisseur.net blog, Instagram @rapaportmagazine as well as hosting a podcast on estate jewelry, Michelle Orman president of Last Word Communications and she spearheads the Communications and Public Relations for the COUTURE Show, U.S. Antiques Shows, and JA New York Shows, as well as a select group of independent fine jewelry designers and brands, Anthony DeMarco a writer and editor who specializes in luxury jewelry and watches. His stories have appeared in publications around the world, including Forbes.com, The Economist 1843 Magazine, Rapaport Magazine, Upscale Living Magazine, VO+ and the Financial Times. They are only a few characters from the 24 stories, in which specialists from the jewelry industry answer questions referring to their work and life during the quarantine. The following is the outcome of our talks.
Barbara Palumbo is a popular jewelry and watch journalist, writer, speaker, and podcaster from the United States whose resume includes over two decades of experience in the industries. Find her on social media at @adornmentality and @whatsonherwrist.
„My daily routine during this pandemic is pretty similar day-to-day. My 4th grader and 8th grader are home and have been since the 2nd week of March, so obviously the most important thing is getting them up at a decent hour, getting them fed, dressed, and sitting down at their computers to start their “schoolwork.” My husband, who is also at home with us, plays the teacher 99% of the time, as his patience is much stronger than mine (I admit that with no excuses. I’m not a patient person in the least.) But where I do play my part is making sure the kids are set up, and fed breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, etc. I’ve always loved to cook, and what I lack in patience I make up for in creativity, especially in the kitchen, so every day I try to make something different and beautiful and tasty. I want the kids to look back on this time as a time we sat down together as a family every night and ate well and never had to worry about whether or not they were loved and taken care of. I also find that these days I’m being asked to do a lot of watch and jewelry-related ZOOM get togethers or Instagram LIVE sessions. I feel very natural being on camera and I’m quit-witted when necessary and I think people have recognized that so they like having me on when them because I have the ability to entertain their followers at the very least. Also, in the watch world, there are not a load of women writers or speakers, so I fill a void on a panel if they are looking to have a woman’s voice present.”
„I feel like my workload changes week to week right now. Some weeks, as mentioned above, I’m on camera a lot (which means a lot of dressing up and a lot of makeup) and I’m talking about the industry, but all of that is unpaid. As a freelance writer, my paid work has definitely slowed because, a.) I am not attending big shows like Baselworld or COUTURE or Watches & Wonders because they’ve either been cancelled or postponed, so that means fewer “boots on the ground” articles are needed. And b.) some of the publications I have done work for in the past, who have staff writers, no longer have the funds to bring in additional freelancers. Financially, it has definitely been difficult, but it is difficult everywhere, and because we are all in the same situation, there is a comforting sense of community that also exists.
However, I definitely feel like I’m getting to be more creative than I had been in the last two years. When the kids are asleep and I’m in my bed with a glass of wine, I find that my mind goes from project to project, and that there is time to come up with ideas that will eventually benefit my personal brand. I cannot recall the last time that has happened.”
David Brough is Co-Founder and Editor of global digital magazine Jewellery Outlook. Before that he was a foreign correspondent for many years, and was based in Latin America and continental Europe including in Italy where he first became involved in the jewellery world.
„I am working very hard on my recently re-platformed digital trade magazine, Jewellery Outlook, during the crisis. Jewellery Outlook has delivered a number of webinars through the emergency, supporting the global gem and jewellery industry by helping businesses find the right survival strategies. The global trade will be transformed by this crisis. Businesses will need to rapidly adapt to new challenges arising as digitization accelerates.
I go on almost daily walks in the field backing onto my country house in Hampshire, southern England, and I enjoy seeing the rich and noisy birdlife, such as ducks in the stream and pheasants and woodcock hiding in the foliage, and listening to squadrons of Canada geese flying overhead. I keep an eye out for a young deer whom I see in the field from time to time. I am also doing work in the garden, cutting back overgrown trees, and shovelling earth to secure a shed.”
„I have speeded up my writing but it is mostly for Jewellery Outlook. Apart from Jewellery Outlook, I am doing less freelance writing work now as budgets have frozen. There are big delays in payments of invoices amidst the crisis. I find that the busier I am, the better. I have had a few “down days” but for the most part I have fared relatively well at home through the emergency so far. In the UK it looks like the lockdown will go on for some time.”
Katerina Perez is a jewellery insider and tastemaker with a global view on the industry specialising in high-end jewellery as well as precious gemstones.
„First time in my life I am spending 24/7 with my family and my 4 – year old son is over the moon. I have turned into a full-time nanny/cook/cleaner/teacher which is a complete opposite from my usual life when I have help around the house. Sadly, being busy with domestic life and work doesn’t allow for learning anything new apart from some cooking recipes ;)”
„I am very grateful for having a fantastic team of people who do their best while I am unable to work with a regular pace. Putting our efforts together allows us to make sure that we are as active as aways on my website and social media channels.”
Jennifer Albornoz Figueras. An enthusiastic editor with more than 11 years of experience in printed media. Her innovative vision has led to the recognition of Velvet Magazine in Venezuela and the rest of the world.
„During this lockdown, I have tried to understand that everything I believed to have control in my life was gone in a second. I have understood that I must love myself more, accept changes in the mood without demanding too much of myself. I have been at home since March 23, weekly I try to make a daily agenda. Weekends are my days of indulgence, where I spend time reflecting, reading, listening to music, and rediscovering the magic of cinema. On weekdays, I try to stay active with the digital projects I manage. I write for my blog, the magazine site that I edit, I give emotional support to my family, and when sunset falls I go for a walk and admire the beauty in the colors of the sky. I have dedicated a great part of the time to rediscover myself, to rescue the dreams that I had put aside, and to live one day at a time. I do not deny that I have also become an expert in cooking and have dusted off some recipes from my grandmother. I don’t practice yoga, but I do meditate. I have focused my thoughts on God. My style of meditation is talking to God, understanding his processes and plans that are better than mine. My life changed completely during this pandemic,. A friend died fighting for two weeks in intensive care. This undoubtedly, changed my outlook on life.”
„I’m still working on what I’m passionate about jewelry, art, and fashion. I have worked even harder since I am at home. My work team is spread throughout the world and we have weekly meetings. We don’t just talk about work, we give each other emotional support in the midst of this pandemic. I have learned to be more merciful. Each one is living a different experience. Within the fear that you may have when reinventing yourself, fear is overcome with perseverance and there have been days of getting that strength to create. I have always believed that the art of creating liberates you and gives you new strength. I am still working on creating campaigns for jewelry brands, fashion publishers, and extolling the human side of luxury. am excited to announce that we will go digital, we remain focused on becoming increasingly global and close to our readers.”
Yutaka Fukasawa. Japan Precious Magazine Chief Editor
„7:00 I and my wife and daughter who is 10 years old all Wake up and Radio gymnastics which is traditional Japanese custom. AM: I work at home and sometime I advise my daughter to study because elementary school is close.
PM: Our family go to near park to play Badminton. Evening: work again 10PM: go to bedWe stay at home 24 ours together. So we have close and better communication before CovidHave you learnt something new (e.g….. you are using online courses, you are developing your cooking skills or you have time for yoga, meditation and reading books).
Cooking! Its my roll. I cool almost meal. I love to cook especially traditional Japanese dishes such as steamed white rice, Miso soup, Tofu, Natto, grilled Fish. Those are very healthy.
I am working online. I interview and talk through SNS or ZOOM or e-mail and write up editorial on my magazine. I can chat through LINE with my editorial staff and make pages. But it is difficult to make new article for the reason of stopping or postpone event. and also difficult to get new advertiser under this terrible situation.”
Avi Krawitz. Senior Analyst and News Editor for the Rapaport Group, with over 13 years’ experience providing high-level editorial content, research and analysis about the diamond industry.
„My usual commute to work is just over an hour long, so working from home gives me more time to do other things before I start my day. I’ve been very careful to keep a balanced routine, as I know how easy it is to wake up and go straight into work mode in this situation. So, I try to mix things up with my daily meditation, stretching, a good breakfast and catch up on world news before I log in.
I had registered for the GIA’s Diamond Essentials and Diamonds & Diamond Grading Courses before the pandemic broke, so that has been my focus in terms of learning during the lockdown. I’ve also managed to dust off the old guitar and rework some pieces I neglected for so long.”
„I’ve been quite busy for work during this period as there has been so much news to cover and it’s such a difficult market to understand and analyse. We shifted to working from home quite early and it was a relatively seamless transition. The key I think has been to be extra careful with communication and our team has had more Zoom and Skype meetings than we would usually have in the office. So, I definitely haven’t slowed down, but we are adjusting to the new reality with more of an emphasis on the webinars and podcasts that we’ve been doing for some time already.”
Sonia Esther Soltani is the editor in chief at Rapaport, overseeing the monthly trade magazine, JewelryConnoisseur.net blog, Instagram @rapaportmagazine as well as hosting a podcast on estate jewelry.
„It’s been a juggling act having a lively 15-month year old toddler at home and a demanding full-time job. I am fortunate my husband happened to have more free time during this period and could look after our daughter, and cook us delicious meals. We made sure we had some quality time during the day even if it meant getting up very early or going to bed late to finish work tasks. We also had a few days of Jewish holidays in April which was a great opportunity to switch off for 25 hours and reconnect as a family unit. I will forever be grateful for being able to see my child develop so much in these past weeks but of course sad it was because of a global pandemic. We FaceTimed six days a week with my mother in France and it was wonderful to see her and my daughter bond virtually. Needless to say I cannot wait for all of us to hug in real life.
As for learning and leisure, there has been so many great webinars and Instagram Live I haven’t had the chance to catch them all. As always, I found in books my greatest source of zen. I started reading The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore back in December and read a few other, shorter, books since then. I finally finished it. It’s an amazing work of history as well as being highly entertaining. So many colorful characters! And I read The Cartiers in a few days – a much more charming family than the Russian tsars and such a beautifully written family and business story.
I also completed the first part of the GIA’s AJP program which I had meant to take for a while.
No meditation, no sport, not even a single home exercise videos good friends shared. I know this is not the healthiest report, but I decided not to put myself under any pressure and as soon as this is all over to go back to a more active routine without feeling guilty. Before being a mum, I gently laughed when celebrities said running around their kids was their main exercise. Well, this is it, now I know this can be!”
„Breathing space is something that certainly did not happen! My team and I have been working every day and longer hours than if we were at the office. There has been Zoom meetings and Skype calls, something back to back, to make sure the production of the daily news and the monthly magazine was going smoothly. We had planned to launch an estate jewelry podcast months ago and I was always too busy to get it started. Funnily enough the uncertainty as to when we would be able to go back to the office pushed me to get working on it. Now recording from home with the risk of hearing my little one screaming – or at best babbling – in the background has been more suspenseful than any thriller.The explosion of Insta Live has also made me think of new ideas for my work and personal accounts. The only thing missing is… time!”
Irina Slesareva, managing editor in Jewellery Review Magazine in Moscow.
„My schedule has stayed mostly the same because I have been using the online format for many years for communicating with colleagues during trips to exhibitions across the world or from home. Now that all activities in the jewelry industry have temporarily stopped, I have more free time that I can dedicate to reading, communicating with friends and studying. I have participated in several marketing web conferences, when else would I have such an opportunity? I`ve also made many new contacts through participation in professional chats. Now I am actively communicating with jewelers from different segments and observing, what decisions people connected with global jewelry business are making. I really like that in our professional environment everyone is trying to support each other, unite in collaborations and share successful projects. This is very important.”
„Today, when there is more free time, I am planning new projects connected with design and digital promotion because all the changes that we are seeing, global transition to online, will affect the development of business in the jewelry industry worldwide. I believe, the world will not be the same after COVID-19.”
Jeremy Keight is the owner of Jewellery World Magazine the largest and preferred industry publication for Australia and New Zealand.
„Lockdown has had its challenges and advantages. I have been able to spend more time with family but there is always that underlying vice in your head that you should be doing something. The question is what. I have been the guest on webinars to give an opinion on the jewellery industry and how the industry can cope with the restrictions in trade. I am finalising a website to help trade to continue to connect and conduct business on a B2B level world jewellery platform (wjplatform.com) which I hope will help businesses connect whilst there are no tradeshows. This will go live within 2 weeks all going well.”
„I have hibernated the company for the time being, so we are not making any money or taking on any debt but we have continued to produce the magazine in an e-format just to keep busy and connected. It is important the industry has information on international issues as well as domestic within the industry. We are doing this to the industry and offering suppliers to advertise at a zero cost. The other part of what I do is escorting delegates from around the world to meet with Indian manufactures and the said Jaipur show that was due to go ahead in April was postponed until July which will most likely be moved again. The reliance on Chinese manufactures has shaken the world and I am being contacted by more and more industry businesses from over 21 countries, whom wish to explore the option to visit India when things return to some sort of normal.”
Samit Bhatta, Retail Jeweller Media Publisher with Passion to Connect the Indian and World Jewellery Markets.
„My Daily routine is a Classic mix of Work and Family Life. I take care of my younger son Kavin who is 5 years old for all his needs like helping him from brushing his teeth, to bathing him, to make him eat all his meals, make him watch some educational videos on youtube, help him in building toys with legos, and tell him bedtime stories and make him go to sleep. Family is well taken care off with all their grocery and food items shopping once a week and lots of time telling inspirational stories to my elder son and TLC chats with wifey. I also make it a point to speak to my ageing parents over phone as they stay in another location in the same city and ensure that all their needs are also taken care off remotely. I am learning to cook online some of my favourite dishes like Arabic Biryanis and select desserts. Prayers and Meditation is a daily routine from any years in the morning, I am trying soma variations of the Surya Namaskar during this lockdown. And yes I am reading some very interesting Japanese Books on Ikigai and also Sapiens, etc.”
„I have really slowed down at work ! I just feel that this a time given by god to invest with family and your own self, and really away from the mad-pace of life that we all had got into ! I have started doing a bit for last one week though, with team meetings on Zoom online. We are just trying to achieve minimalistic work that is absolutely required only.”
Emil Akhundov, art-director of The M.O.S.T. luxury lifestyle magazine, editor of Style section at Sputnik.az, press-officer of Azerbaijan Fashion Week.
„Honestly, my daily routine during the lockdown doesn’t differ so much from my previous working schedule, since I used to work from home, and my office (my computer) is located few steps away from my bed :). I live with my mom, who is 65 years old, and according to the lockdown laws in Azerbaijan, it is prohibited for her to leave the house, since she is at a risk zone age. So, I am the only person in our small family, who can go out for shopping at a grocery store. I really enjoy it, choosing food as carefully and attentively as pieces of jewelry from the latest collections of big brands :). Of course, this process became a reason for some culinary experiments, but I can’t say that I became a pro in cooking. Yes, now I dedicate more time for reading books that I bought during last few months, but couldn’t read it because of a busy work schedule. And, of course, Netflix and TV series now play more important role for me than previously. :)”
„I continue working on our upcoming summer issue of The M.O.S.T. luxury lifestyle magazine. However, for the moment we still don’t know an exact date, when it will be out, since currently printing houses are closed in Azerbaijan. We organize remote interviews with main characters of our future issue, but unfortunately we can’t organize any shootings with them. Despite a fact that usually we collaborate with a big number of stylists and photographers from EU and USA, currently we also can’t organize any fashion shootings abroad, since a situation with lockdown in different parts of the world is roughly similar. I also continue working on creating a content for Style section that I supervise for Sputnik.az (the local website, which is the part of an international information agency with a headquarter located in Moscow). In this case everything is more stable, since we used to work on this project online. One more project that I work for – Azerbaijan Fashion Week, had to take place in May 2020. Now officially it is postponed. But I think that most probably fall-winter 2020/2021 edition of AFW will be totally cancelled. Both local designers couldn’t create their new collections, neither international designers will not be able to visit it, since, according to rumors, Azerbaijan will restore an air traffic only in September. Regarding a positive impetus of the lockdown personally for me, I had more than enough time to think about creating my YouTube channel. So, most probably the first thing I’ll do after the lockdown will be cancelled, I’ll try myself in a new field and will shoot a pilot episode of my future show. :)”
Jen Cullen Williams is an award-winning, US-based brand communications consultant that specializes in enhancing market exposure and customer connections for brands, retailers and organizations in the jewelry, luxury, fashion and consumer goods industries through creativity and strategy.
„I live in Southern California in the coastal town of Huntington Beach (aka Surf City USA) with my husband and our bright and active three-year-old daughter, Kira. My family has adjusted to this new lifestyle of being home, together, but we deeply miss spending time with our family and friends. The daily routine for us is to get up at 7 am and quickly check email and stretch. Then I head to the kitchen and drink a big glass of water. I usually start the coffee and chat with my husband about our “work” schedules. I try to do an online workout from home and my daughter is typically up around 7:45 am. My husband and I make her breakfast and usually play with her right after. A few days a week we have a neighborhood family that watches her for a part of the day so my husband and I can both work from home with fewer interruptions – because there are many when she is home! Those days are productive. The other days, our daughter is home with us and we split time working and watching her. We try to do creative and educational activities like coloring, dress up, reading, painting and so much more. Some days she is watching TV shows on Disney! We also try to take walks and on weekends we go to our local beach with lots of social distance. My husband and I split the dinner cooking duties,
and the bedtime routine of bath and storytime. Most nights (during quarantine) we have a glass(s) of wine and watch a show or read before going to bed. As parents and business professionals, we are focused on being positive and proactive about the situation. We have told our daughter we are on “Vacation Spring Break” and we get to have fun as a family. We definitely miss travel, going out to eat, attending personal and professional social gatherings, taking our daughter to the park and spending time with our loved ones, yet we also know this is not our forever – that gives us hope. The one thing I have been doing to stay creative and connected is setting up zoom calls with other professionals. I also offered free one-on-one, 30 minute chats in April to anyone that wanted business communications consulting. I had the opportunity to connect with so many new and wonderful people, which has given me a lot of inspiration and new found purpose.”
„I have worked from home for the past three years, but I would often work from coffee shops and would travel to industry events and conferences. I love people and learning from them, so working exclusively from my house has been an adjustment yet not a huge change like some folks. I’m quite fortunate that I still have clients and projects, although any of my new business opportunities have been placed on hold until businesses have marketing budgets back in place. All of my work travel has stopped.
I have been using my time to connect with others, write articles for publications, host and participate in educational webinars as well as listen to other educational webinars and podcasts. This slowdown in business has been the push I needed to explore, connect, strengthen, rethink, educate, focus and let go on so many things. I feel like it’s been a greenhouse of growth personally, professionally and as a family! And that is my evergreen lining during this time.”
Kina Andersson. Freelancing journalist and editor with passion for jewellery and storytelling. Based in Sweden.
„My daily routine is actually pretty much the same; I am freelancing and work from home anyway. But usually I travel a lot, for work, and time freed by not doing so gives me time to pick up my old hobby: Making silver jewellry. And develop a new one: Gardening. I guess we are quite lucky in Sweden, contrary to many other countries we are allowed to go out in a greater extent, our government trust us to behave responsible.”
„I definitely work more online, with interviews and meetings and so on. The magazine industry is seeing difficult times, which of course affects me as well. But that also gives me time to study, to plan for new projects and collaborations and also for more creative writing.”
Esther Ligthart. I am a jewelry blogger, freelance contributor to trade magazines and consultant with 25 years of international experience in jewelry sales and jewelry marketing.
„At first I didn’t find the rest to concentrate on anything. I was worried about what was happening to the world as we knew it. I also had to jump right into a new routine with my child at home and my partner gone all day and mostly every night, but soon enough I found space in my days to read and devour books again. Non fictional books from bugs to philosophy and from the Universe to business books. I have started to follow online courses on Coursera about animal behavior and the importance of species and how they are intertwined. The fun thing about reading and learning about so many different subjects is that you understand how everything is connected. The more I take distance, the more I am able to see clearly. I am a generalist at heart and always look for different angles, connections and inspiration. It sounds perhaps weird, but this approach is my biggest inspiration for writing about jewelry and giving consultancy to jewelry companies.”
„One might think that for someone who always works from home, things haven’t changed that much. But oh boy, they have! For one, I am taking care of my son (11) doing his homework which is kind of the same battle everyday. He hates to start doing it, and is incredibly creative and smart in the way he tries to avoid it. Once started, my job is just to keep him in the flow. He is such a smart and lovely boy to be around with! I’ll admit that it’ll miss him terribly once he’ll get back to school and I while I moan about being pushed into the teacher role, I actually treasure this time together. My partner has been incredibly busy (he is a veterinarian who has a franchise of veterinarian clinics and an veterinarian employment agency, he also is the chairman for the national association for companion animals which took most of his time) and I took over taking care of everything here. Yet, I do read lots and I do loads of video conferences. Also, I walk long distances with our dog, which helps to gain rest in my head and put things in perspective. I listen to Podcasts and I keep myself very much informed about the development of retail and jewelry business in a pre- and post-Covid-19. I am planning new projects too. I am overcoming my camera shyness as now not only I, but all of us are always interacting through video calls and am preparing talks for different platforms. For my own business, I have started to develop an idea that I had carry around for so long. An idea that I will share more about once we are up and running :)”
Nikki Phinyapincha. A brand reputation management consultant with over 7 years’ experience in jewelry and tourism & hospitality industry, I focus on partnering, adding value and helping my clients in Thailand & ASEAN to exceed their business goal.
„Definitely things have significantly changed but my individualism lifestyle was not that affected much ;-). I used to imagine what if we can work remotely and don’t need to go office, stay in the box with no productivity. And this time has come earlier than expected, but to me it is not unexpected circumstance I would be afraid of. My daily routine is a bit slower but more quality. I don’t need to be rush in the morning time to travel to work. Thus I can enjoying my morning shower, self-treatment, breakfast, then spending time with family, playing with my cute dogs. We have shared, talked, laughed, eaten and done some more activities together like gardening, exercising and so on during this quarantine time. For personal development, I have more time to listen and analyze myself, plan new projects and future, develop my skills such as new technology/program, meditation & art, read more books and learn how to “be more empathy” during the situation. I have created different charity projects with my sisters and friends to support financially and morally to those in need. When I see their smiles, I just realized how worth we are born and to be grateful to be able to help each other to pass through this challenge together. Most importantly what I have learnt are that the only certainty in life is uncertainty, expect the unexpected and empathy is key to survive better.”
„I believe that every cloud has a silver lining. I always see situation in different side of the coin so this time to me is rather an opportunity or challenge than problem. This forced isolation has taught me rather how to thrive, to be productive and to enjoy it as if the last day of life. Only our working way has changed to be more online. Though we work from home but our work routine is normal, timely scheduled and managed with “more disciplinary”. I need to practice and reskill more on technical and digital stuffs but never stop encouragement to team, empathy and creativity to cope with any challenging situations. Surprisingly, I have been quite busy during this time as we need to help our clients for crisis communication, connect brands with their customers more closer. More new clients called us and need our help to do more online communication. One thing that I learnt is “no matter how distance we are in, we all need to connect”. I am sure that every journey brings you an exploration if you never stop learning or developing. We are a survivor!”
Manon is an international silver-haired model, social micro-influencer (who loves spotlighting rare & beautiful people, places and things), and founder of Manon des Sources hair care company for natural silver hair.
„My daily routine has definitely evolved over the past 6 weeks. Initially, I was circumstantially depressed. One day I actually binge-watched Man in the High Castle for 7 straight hours! LOL It didn’t last long. Soon I found myself making masks for the non-profit @singswithstones started to get complimentary masks to health care providers and whomever else needed them. He has a great system going here in Colorado where there’s a driver who drops off fabric one day and picks up the completed masks the following week. My latest routine has been revising my pitch deck for hair industry investors to review for my new start-up hair care company for natural silver hair, Manon des Sources. Of course, I couldn’t go into the hair business without bringing a gem with me . . . one of the key ingredients in all four formulations is crushed pearls! How do you look after your family and yourself? My husband and I are empty-nesters (no kids at home), now, so it’s just my husband, Stuart, and our dog, Chauncy. Actually, Stuart is the one who’s been looking after me! I am spoiled, I’m not going to lie! He has done all the grocery shopping, cooking, dog walking, a lot of the cleaning . . . I think he gets bored (he’s in the medical business, but for elective surgery procedures, so those have been put on hold through Covid-19), and he sees me at the sewing machine and computer so he just does it! He’s pretty amazing – there’s a reason we’ve been married for 28 years!”
”I wear many hats when it comes to my work life. One of them is as a social media influencer. I’ve had more time to try new video formats, editing apps and have had lots of practice with my “selfie” game conducting photoshoots with myself! LOL It’s all very strange. How are you dealing with work in this crazy Covid 19 time? In the beginning of the stay-at-home time all the work stopped. I was scheduled to do a show in Germany, which got cancelled. I was a candidate for a beauty shoot in Paris, which was cancelled. The influencer work also came to a halt. However, this season has become a gift of time for me to be laser-focused on my new company. Are you working online, have you slowed down a bit, or quite the opposite, has the breathing space let you gain impetus and you are planning new projects? Yes, I work online. My work has also picked up due to fun interviews like this one! I started April with my first Instagram Live interview with @leonardokashi marketing director @levian_jewelry and recently finished an article for @thefullestmag which will go live in June. I’m also doing an IG takeoverfor @thefullestmag chronicling “a day in the life of Manon.” I’m not sure how exciting that will be, but if all else fails our dog is really cute. 🙂 I was scheduled to be in NYC for a podcast interview next week on Where Brains Meet Beauty (@wherebrainsmeetbeautypostcast), but it will now take place in the comfort of my own office in Boulder via zoom. 🙂 I feel grateful to be busy, and even more grateful to not have experienced more devastating outcomes from this virus.”
Debbie Whiting, publisher Jewellery Time Magazine, New Zealand.
„I have worked from home for over 25 years so the difference is I now have company as my husband and son have both moved their offices to home. In lockdown level 4 we walked the dog twice per day, rode bikes and continued yoga and pilates on zoom classes. We baked bread, enjoyed family time and the air was clean, very few cars on the streets. We are now on level 3 and more have gone back to work including our son. My life passion is sailing and sadly we still can’t go out in the boat, something I look very forward to.”
„We have placed our publication on suspension until there is a clearer economic future. We are working on a new digital newsletter and keeping up a small amount of communications to our trade without bombarding them.”
Marco Carniello. I am a manager, a watch collector and a triathlete. A European citizen, Italian with a Swiss mother, a French wife, I studied in Spain and worked in the UK, but am still fascinated by Asia.
„I did not experience life in lockdown as a „shock” and I immediately accepted this moment as more of an opportunity than a tragedy. For example, the “useful” time to dedicate to oneself increased greatly without all the car trips and daily commute. In these weeks at home I implemented a rule I call 1/3: One third of my free time I dedicate to my fitness (mostly on a bike on rollers I set up on the terrace), one third is designated to learning something new (I am currently doing a course on Blockchain technology) and one third is intended for leisure (reading books or watching Netflix series – I just finished “La casa de papel”).”
„Work at these times requires a special approach. IEG provides many technological tools for remote working, that actually were already implemented for example for the young mothers among our staff. These solutions make working from home quite effective. Despite the recessionary economic climate, we maintain a positive spirit and keep our energy at a high level. The Vicenzaoro team consists of around 20 people and we even do video-aperitivo together every week. Even though the market unfortunately stands still, we are working on many new initiatives for the future after COVID-19: We are accelerating digitization, services and online content. And of course, we are thinking about how to make make our events even safer. To this end, we have launched a special internal program that we have called “SAFE BUSINESS by IEG”.”
Preeta Agarwal is an award-winning, multi-talented jewellery specialist from New Delhi, India who travels the world in search of the most exquisite jewels & knowledge.
„My days these days are a mix of my duties as a wife, daughter-in-law and a professional. So while the first half of my day is full of cleaning & cooking chores, the remaining day I give to my clients and work with them so to strategize, so they can come out of this lockdown prepared for what lies ahead. I am also conducting a few webinars & insta live sessions but only a few well curated ones. The good thing out of this lockdown is that I have more time to spend with my family, I have tried my hands at cooking a few difficult dishes, we are all exercising & eating healthy home cooked food, and I have also connected with few long-lost friends over video calls.”
„I strongly believe in one mantra- ‘Whatever happens, happens for good!’. I know these are hard times which you cannot change but we all can utilize our time at home more creatively and that is exactly what I am doing. While a lot of my projects have got cancelled or postponed, I have worked on a few new ideas like my Insta Live Marathon (which was a huge success) and few more crazy projects that are in the pipeline.”
Murat Başsoy. Gold Book Magazine is an international jewelry magazine with a 25-year history in the industry. It is the most followed jewelry publication in the Gulf region and Turkey.
„The COVID-19 pandemic that took over the world changed all of our lives. A large majority, including us, have been locked up in their homes since the first case was seen in Turkey on March 10. When we started staying at home, we first set up a study room for ourselves. We turned a room of our apartment into an office. After providing the necessary comfort and working conditions, we programmed our time. A little business a little personal time… We give ourselves time to do activities such as cleaning, cooking, exercising. We’re getting new information. We follow online seminars and live broadcasts of people in whom we are interested. We have conference calls with our friends and family. We’ve got a new order.
We are very sorry for those who lost their lives and those who are struggling to survive in the process. We may face a lot of economic problems, but it feels better to look on the bright side. We had reached a point where everything was too much and we couldn’t stop when we were at a busy pace of work, constantly trying to get to something or somewhere. Now we’ve stopped and we understand that we needed it. As a result of this stop, our seas were cleared and even dolphins began to appear in the Bosphorus. Air pollution has dropped a significant level. Nature has begun to regenerate itself. At the end of this process perhaps life will be redesigned.”
„We have two lines of business. One is publishing (Gold Book Magazine) and the other is jewelry photography and advertising services. Our photography field has completely stopped with production halting in the sector… The Gold Book Magazine field is a little different. Publishing must continue under any circumstances. We completed the printing of our 52nd issue in March and had them packaged untouched. As we begin to normalize, we begin to ship cargo. In mid-April, we restructured our website and made our magazines available online, accelerating the digital transformation process we had planned since the beginning of the year. (www.goldbookmagazine.com) We plan to be much more active in the digital environment in the following times.”
Anthony DeMarco is a writer and editor who specializes in luxury jewelry and watches. His stories have appeared in publications around the world, including Forbes.com, The Economist 1843 Magazine, Rapaport Magazine, Upscale Living Magazine, VO+ and the Financial Times.
„As far as work, my routine hasn’t changed much. I’ve worked from home for 10 years as an independent journalist so this has remained the same. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that I have little time do anything new. I’ve been very busy for the past two months, perhaps more than usual. Since I’m the one who works at home while my wife works outside, I normally did the cooking. Now, since she’s home as well, we share more in the cooking. Other than that, I haven’t had a chance to do anything outside of work yet.”
„Like I mentioned I’ve been busier than ever. Spring is a busy time in the jewelry and watch industry and it has been no different—even though everything is completely different because of COVID-19. For example, the annual Watches & Wonders Geneva watch fair was held online this year. Now that May has arrived, I am nearly caught up with my work and will have time for other things. I have three projects I want to concentrate on: a new website and two books. Let’s see how far I get with these efforts. I also did my first Instagram live interview and would like to do more in the coming weeks. We’re also cleaning the house and maybe we can do some repairs at home. Oh yes, and exercise. All of the things that we rarely have time for I may be able to do this month. So I will remain busy, just not getting paid.”
Jennifer Heebner has been writing about fine jewelry for 23 years and is the founder of JenniferHeebner.com.
„I have been super busy during lockdown! I have been catching up on paperwork, planning future content for my site, and reaching out to friends and colleagues for pandemic-specific stories. I’ve been
walking my dogs even more than I normally do and exercising using the Beachbody app. I also do volunteer work for the Saving Suffering Strays rescue in Bosnia, from where we got our former street dog Elsa. There are countless gorgeous stray dogs in Sarajevo, and I love to help a particular rescuer there who saves them from abuse and starvation. In the jewelry world, I miss my friends and all the trade shows and events that were cancelled for spring but have been loving the extra time with my husband. He is a doctor so the concern for his health is ever present, but we’re blessed and grateful that the virus has not directly harmed us thus far.”
„Since I routinely work at home—when I’m not travelling—my schedule hasn’t been too affected; I’m almost always on the phone and in front of my computer and that hasn’t changed during lockdown. I have been brainstorming some new editorial projects to replace a few that the virus has interfered with. I always strive to be resourceful and efficient, and times of stress (like now) are a great time to innovate and take advantage of new opportunities.”
Michelle Orman is president of Last Word Communications and she spearheads the Communications and Public Relations for the COUTURE Show, U.S. Antiques Shows, and JA New York Shows, as well as a select group of independent fine jewelry designers and brands. She is also the host of the COUTURE Podcast.
„I am sheltering in place in my apartment in Brooklyn, New York. I usually start my day with a run in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and then my work day begins, which keeps me busy for a solid 9-11 hours a day. In New York City, it’s very intimidating to go outside, so I don’t often get outside other than my morning runs, sometimes an evening stroll, and of course, the rare trip to the grocery store.
I’m also on multiple zoom and FaceTime calls every day/evening with my friends and family, including my many siblings from across the globe, and my sister and my nieces and nephew who are on the Upper West Side in New York City, and I’ve never been more in-touch with my mom in my adult life! All of this activity doesn’t give me a lot of extra time, but I’m cooking all of my meals at home, and I’m pretty proud of my growing ability to cook food based solely on what’s available in my pantry! I went plant-based (vegan) over 9 months ago, and so I’m really enjoying experimenting with yummy new recipes; I’m definitely eating way too much!”
„I’ve been very busy working with the teams for COUTURE, U.S. Antique Shows and JA New York to develop programs intended to keep our communities engaged and connected. We’ve already hosted two webinars, with many more in development, we are creating and distributing weekly “media alerts” highlighting the incredible work of COUTURE designers and brands, we’ve invited several COUTURE designers to submit “guest posts” to our blog, giving us an intimate look into their daily lives during this unprecedented time, we continue to record podcasts remotely, and we’ve launched a new website and blog for U.S. Antique Shows. We’re also looking ahead to the dates during which COUTURE and Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch show would have taken place (June 1-5, 2020) and we’re in the process of rolling out some exciting programs that will be both informative, and just plain fun! While I’d obviously rather be busy planning to come together in person in Vegas for COUTURE and Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show, the shift has allowed us to implement initiatives, like a monthly U.S. Antique Shows newsletter, that we’ve been wanting to develop for years!”
Cynthia Unninayar. A 25-year veteran of the jewelry and gem industry, Cynthia Unninayar travels the world to bring her readers the many fascinating stories of gem mines and the original creations of talented designers who use these gems. www.gemscene.com
„As an editor and writer, I generally work from my home office. Because requests for articles and editing work continue to come in, I have not had that much extra free time, despite the lockdown.”
„My normal routine is to work online, and now that people are doing more social media and outreach in
other ways, I continue to have editing work. I also continue to update my website GEMSCENE.com. It is important, however, for me to find time for long walks through the nearby woods with my husband. The calm and
serenity of Nature helps us cope with the fact that so many people around the world are truly suffering from this terrible pandemic.”