Trade Show Shenanigans

Tales From the Strip 2015, PART FOUR: D.E.F. Jam in the Desert, aka, Barbara Gets Punk’d

(Yes, yes… I’m still talking about Vegas.)

There is an OZ-like curtain in certain parts of the industry that I was unaware of until this last year. Sometimes it seems, not just to me but many others, like there are the big cities – the Meccas – and then, there’s everywhere else. Sometimes it feels like the truth about tough topics is pushed under the rug as to not offend/not piss off/not shine the spotlight on the players who pay the big bills, or have the big names, or run the big ads. Sometimes, against their own interest, women don’t stand up for women (aka – “mean girl club”). And sometimes, someone such as I – naively, maybe – comes along, and calls out these issues, and calls out the politics or the bullshit for what it is, yet in turn occasionally finds themself outside of some imaginary circle of trust.

Writing about Vegas post-Vegas has been tough for me. Not because I haven’t had things to say or stories to tell (I always have things to say and stories to tell) but because my heart just wasn’t into it, which is why it has taken this long. Remember finding out about Santa Claus? Well, I feel like this year exposed him, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and leprechauns all on the same day, and that left me both indignant and disheartened about the field I’ve been in for nearly two decades, that is, until a few weeks ago…

A simple conversation with a respected colleague and friend can often change how you view something in the long term. When I mentioned that I was going to be stepping back from writing the blog for a while, my statement was met with the following demand:

“Don’t you f*cking dare. Don’t you dare go away because if you do, you’ve lost. Don’t you dare let what’s been going on forever get to you. You are a voice – a voice that people didn’t expect and probably one they weren’t ready for. If change is going to happen, you’re going to make it happen, so don’t you dare walk away. Get out there and write.”

And so, I am.

Today’s post will cover a single night in Sin City – Thursday night. It was the night of the Diamond Empowerment Fund’s “Diamonds in the Sky” event, and I promise you that this recap will be light and airy and fun. There’s no need to think that I’m going to change the world through this entry, but know in the back of your mind that I want to. I want to see change, so I will try my damnedest to be that change. In the interim, however, I give you part four

***********

After the success of the “Power of Blogging” panel, I was about as high as the state of Colorado, which these days, as you know, is pretty f*cking high. The “Diamonds In the Sky” event was a highlight for me during last year’s Jewelry Week and I was looking forward to being *properly* dressed this time (if you don’t know what I mean, read this post from last year’s event to get yourself caught up).

Once back in my room I fixed my makeup, threw my hair up, and donned a Salmon-colored floor length gown that was summery, flowy, and feminine. I felt… girly… which is not an adjective I use to describe myself often, but what the hell, right? May as well go all in since last year I wore a knee-length dress and felt out of place because everyone was dressed formally. However, as I approached the ballroom at the Four Seasons I noticed that most of the female attendees were in cocktail length dresses and skirts… with some even wearing pants. I had to rub my eyes and do a double-take. What…. the HELL… is going on here? Is this some cruel joke the entire industry is playing on me? Is Ashton Kutcher going to pop out from behind some elegant Vegas drapery and tell me I’m being PUNK’d? THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING. Last year I was underdressed and this year, I’m overdressed?? For the love of jeebus, can I just catch a break?!? Of course I can’t. This is me we’re talking about. Thankfully there was no line at the bar so I went right in and ordered a scotch. A quick scan of the room put Monica, Danielle, Liz Kanter, Amanda Gizzi, and Natalie Bos in my sights, so off I went to talk jewelry and blogs.

DITS DEF1

Bern and me on our way to the prom. (Photo courtesy of the Diamond Empowerment Fund)

Everyone looked so glamourous. There were diamond hair clips and gorgeous statement necklaces (including the GUMUCHIAN Cascade necklace I was wearing), and Monica had on a fabulous ring by Payal Shah of L’Dezen. Diamonds weren’t just doing good so far at this event, they were doing freaking GREAT, and were well represented among the blogger community in particular.

We did our usual catching up with our industry favorites (Craig Danforth, Michelle Graff, Jen Cullen Williams, and The Asschers) and I was also able to have some serious conversations with folks like Dr. Ben Chavis, and the AGS’ Ruth Batson. This is an event I really looked forward to as I remembered just how wonderful last year’s dinner was (I mean, what event isn’t awesome where you get to high five Chaka Khan as she sings “I’m Every Woman”?). But this year’s entertainment was going to be Kelly Rowland – one third of the nineties megagirlgroup, “Destiny’s Child” and multi-platinum solo recording artist. And yo, I knew all of that without even looking her up on Wiki! Holla! (Did I spell that correctly?)

DITS DEF2

Pixie, Dipsh*t, and The International Man of Mystery

I was fortunate enough to be seated between Diamond Council of America president, Terry Chandler, and WJA Executive Director and pixie-cut-wearer extraordinaire, Bernadette Mack. When Terry saw that we were being served a type of wine that I don’t drink, he jumped in and ordered a bottle of my favorite for the table. I can see why Cindy and he have such a fantastic relationship. Way to be accommodating, Terry! Terry also, though, for some reason, thought his Facebook account had come to life that night as he found that poking me in the left arm over and over and over and over was more than amusing. Oh, Terry… you’re so lucky I like you, because if I didn’t, I would have taken you out at the knees and dropped your ass.

So many wonderful things happened during this year’s Diamonds in the Sky Gala, but for me, because I’m who I am, the part where super-hot Olympic swimmer Roland Schoeman was auctioned off was extraordinary. I tried bidding, but, you know… I’m too much woman for him to have handled and once he met me he’d never want to leave my bed side, which would make swimming really difficult, and, well, the world needs him, so, I allowed myself to be outbid. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Kelly in The Crowd

Kelly Rowland singing to Dr. Ben. (Photo courtesy of the Diamond Empowerment Fund)

After the food, fun, speeches, success stories, and songs were all over, a multitude of us decided to gather at our regular stomping grounds for an after-party…

That’s right, kids… you’ve waited long enough… time to talk about EYE CANDY.

I’ve been accused of namedropping during this series in the past and to those accusers I say, go f*ck yourselves, because for the most part, when I mention a name in one of these posts, people get excited to know that they’re part of the fun. So in the spirit of namedropping, let me be the first to say that it was great seeing you Brandee, Fran, Anna, Alexis, Denise, Mike, Lita, Chris, Bob, Tim, Henry, Ulysses, Bethany, Cher, and Madonna! Yeah. I went there. Madge knows what’s up. (Pssst…. Madge… call me.)

The party got a little outrageous which was a sure sign it was time for me to go. On my way out, a friend handed a different friend to me for me to get them into a cab, and I obliged because that’s what you do when you’re in the desert with your jewelry family.

Thanks for being patient while I got into my groove again. I still have to write about this year’s #VegasGems gathering and will likely close out the series with a sixth and final post after that. Then, we’ll talk New York, the WJA Awards for Excellence, the 24K Club SEUS event, and my #FiftyWomenofJewelry compilation.

There’s much to say, and I’m grateful that plenty of you are still putting your listening ears on.

Until…

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One thought on “Tales From the Strip 2015, PART FOUR: D.E.F. Jam in the Desert, aka, Barbara Gets Punk’d

  1. Terry Chandler says:

    [cid:C1388BC3-603F-4410-B931-FF4DBCF8F8E1@hsd1.tn.comcast.net]

    Again with the poking! I’m sorry! Didn’t mean it! What penance shall I perform to be forgiven and out from under this terrible burden that I have offended the best industry writer I know? Not to mention my friend! Name it! I’ll do it! 🙂

    Humbly,

    Terry

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