Fireside Chat: John Carter

John Carter, CGA, is the owner and CEO of Jack Lewis Jewelers in Bloomington, IL. Carter began working at Jack Lewis as a junior in high school and worked his way through college there.

Upon his graduation from Illinois State University in 1998 with a Bachelors in Marketing, he went to work for the Maurice Lacroix watch company as the Upper Midwest Regional Sales Manager. After a five-year education on the road, Carter returned to Jack Lewis Jewelers in 2002 where he began his correspondence education through GIA. 

After two years he received his Graduate Gemologist (GG) degree, and furthered his credentials through the American Gem Society (AGS) with his Registered Jeweler (RJ), Certified Gemologist (CG) and finally, his Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA) in 2007. In 2011, he bought Jack Lewis Jewelers from his former business partner. He currently serves as the President of the AGS board of Directors. 

In addition to being the owner of Jack Lewis, Carter is the President of the American Gem Society (AGS) Board of Directors and a Fireside Chat panelist at JCK Tucson 2020.

Read our conversation with him to get a glimpse of his valuable insight and refreshing outlook on business and relationships, which we will see more of this year at JCK Tucson.

Describe your day in numbers.
2 = The hours I spend with my kids in the morning.

2-4 = The hours I spend each day looking at reports and sales numbers to analyze what is working for my business.

1-3 = The number of hours I spend on the sales floor each day still assisting my clients find the perfect symbol that expresses their feelings for the ones they love.

∞ = The amount of time each day spent in the digital world. From managing social media to Google Analytics, it is never-ending and seems to last all day–even when I get home.

How long have you been working in the jewelry industry, and what is your favorite part about it?
27 years now (how has it been that long?!). People only come to us to celebrate happy occasions and knowing we are a part of their family traditions is extremely rewarding. At the conclusion of every holiday, someone tells me how they were waiting until all the other gifts were opened and then they pull out that small box from Jack Lewis Jewelers and the entire family is waiting to see what’s inside–that’s the very best part of this job. We sell more than just sparkly things and what we do matters.

Is there a piece of jewelry you wear regularly? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
My Rolex, every single day. It is a part of me, and I could not go about my day without it. Recently, I’m into lapel pins as well and seem to rotate those in and out as they suit me.

What are your most memorable moments from one of our JCK events?
It is always the people at every single JCK event. Every time I leave a show, the most valuable content that I take away isn’t a new line or interesting pieces to sell in my store. It is the conversations over a cocktail or on the show floor that enrich my spirit and keep me going. I feel I learn from every single person I meet, and these experiences will be with me for my entire career.

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Continuing my service to The American Gem Society (AGS) as I complete my two year tenure as President of the Board of Directors. There is no telling what the future holds but I guarantee that this amazing society that I have had the honor to serve will always be a part of my business and my day-to-day life.

Tell us about AGS and what’s in store for the future.
AGS was founded in 1934 by Robert M. Shipley just three years after he founded our sister organization, GIA. He brilliantly saw the needs for two such groups in our industry. One would feed the educational needs of our trade and the other would provide the ethical standards that would ensure the consumer could trust what we do.

Our mission has never waivered from this vision and will always be consumer protection above all things. As we continue his vision, we will seek new opportunities to maintain our relevance in the lives of our members but more importantly the jewelry buying public.

What are the benefits of being an AGS member and how has it personally impacted your business?
Much like JCK, it is the lifelong friends that I have met through AGS. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know some of the most successful and ethical people in this industry and that is thanks to AGS. From suppliers that lead the way on disclosure, to the retailers on the front line advocating for their clients, our members are the best that the trade has to offer.

Looking back at my decade or so of being involved in the leadership of this organization, I say with great pride that my very best friends have come from this pool of very prestigious industry professionals.

Can you share with our readers a small glimpse of the topics and conversation that you think will prominent during the show?
I anticipate (as always) much conversation about the state of the laboratory grown diamond market and how the falling prices have affected those who sell them.

Since we will be in Tucson, I hope there is some discussion about any new or hot gemstones in the marketplace as well as any treatments that are recently coming to light.

Laws and regulations that affect the industry.

Ethical sourcing of gems and materials and what we can ALL be doing to ensure that we are leading the way within our own businesses.

Social media and digital marketing

Inventory management and financial discussions

What do we not know and what may be headed our way in the decade to come? It seems that there is always something that could plague us down the road and these conversations are a great chance to begin these discussions before the issues arise. I always pick up something new in these chats.

Learn more about this Fireside Chat here.
View the full JCK Tucson 2020 events schedule here.
Still not registered for JCK Tucson 2020? There’s still time! Register here today.

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