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AGS Conclave 2022: Business and Bliss in Oklahoma City

“What we have here as an organization is absolutely incredible,” said Craig Underwood, winner of the American Gem Society’s Robert M. Shipley Award during an acceptance speech at American Gem Society’s (AGS) Conclave event on Tuesday that saw the veteran retailer well up with emotion at several points.

 

“If you put a koi in a large lake it can grow from one to three feet in size—and that’s very similar to the human race, but with our minds. If we continue to expand our horizons and expand our world, we will grow larger…AGS expanded my horizons and my universe.”

 

Underwood, co-owner of Underwood’s Fine Jewelers in Fayetteville, Ark., wasn’t alone in his admiration of AGS at the organization’s signature retailer-focused event, which took place April 24-27 in Oklahoma City.

 

Guests of this year’s conference cited the slate of smartly conceived sessions—which tackled subjects ranging from succession to social media—engaging keynote speakers, and the handsome hotel that housed the conference (the Omni Oklahoma City) among the elements that made this year’s Conclave especially entertaining.

 

AGS-members retailers are a famously tight and jovial group, and as per tradition, small and large groups of attendees met up for long, laughter-filled dinners each night (steak houses were popular—this is Oklahoma). Said one retailer over a gloriously messy basket of chicken and waffles, “AGS is just the best group. It’s always awesome to reconnect.”

 

Jewelers Mutual executive vice president Jamie Luce with AGS Conclave keynote speaker Marcus Lemonis

 

Björn Merisheki, Rachel Dery, Roger Dery and Ginger Dery of Gem Legacy

 

The adorable Clark family from Oklahoma City’s BC Clark

 

Parle’s Brecken Farnsworth moderating a panel at Conclave

 

Jewelers of America director of membership Regina Ciarleglio, Jewelers Mutual chief content executive Mark Smelzer and Reed Exhibition group vice president Sarine Bachmann at the 50s-themed President’s Party

 

The dance scene at the Conclave President’s Party!

 

De Beers Forevermark president Charles Stanley hosting a session on “The State of the Industry”

 

Jewelers Mutual industry relations manager Emily Ponkratz with longtime JM industry relations manager Sheri Ihde

 

Cathy Calhoun presenting Craig Underwood with the Robert M. Shipley award

 

Retailer Constance Palamalu of Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis, Md., navigated the show with her new baby, Sebastian

 

From left: Jewelers Mutual’s vice president of sales and distribution Mark Devereaux, Afshin Hackman from Intercolor USA, Jewelers Mutual EVP Jamie Luce, Gem + Jewel founder Shelia Bayes, AGTA president Kimberly Brooks and Jewelers Mutual chief content executive Mark Smelzer out for a casual dinner at the Chicken & Pickle in Oklahoma City

 

Larry Spicer, Jewelers Mutual’s vice president of loss prevention and risk, leading a panel at Conclave

 

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