Make the Most of Opportunities

Michael O
Michael O'Connor shared his experiences and offered tips for success in the industry during the opening panel at GIA's Carlsbad Career Fair in 2009. Photo by Kevin Schumacher/GIA
Michael O’Connor, a jewelry and style expert known as the “King of Bling” at Hollywood’s red carpet events, offered this advice the 2009 Career Fair in Carlsbad.

Seize the opportunity. “I think all of us are presented with opportunities in our life we have to seize in order to get ahead,” he said. “Sometimes those opportunities are not really presenting them themselves as opportunities,” but as obstacles you need to take advantage of

He recalled his own experiences in the industry as an example: stumbling into his first job in a jewelry store while on an errand for his father, then moving from jewelry designer to merchandiser and marketer for one of the largest bridal jewelry manufacturers in the country.

Soon after, his boss wanted to get the brand on celebrities and have it talked about it on TV and O’Connor found himself in front of the camera doing more and more red carpet events because, he said, that’s what people wanted to hear about.

He said he gets the celebrity to talk about jewelry by saying, “You look great tonight. Close your eyes. If you can take anything home tonight (because I know this is all going back tomorrow), what is it going to be?”

It’s always about the jewelry, he said. “The jewelry is what America wants to hear about. They don’t want to hear about another red chiffon gown. They want to hear about the million dollar necklace. They want to hear about the diamonds, the rubies and the gemstones. They want to hear about the metal they are set in. That’s what really provides glamour to these people.”

O’Connor also had advice for people who want to get their jewelry on celebrities. “It’s a triad,” he said. “You’ve got to have the right product, you have to do a lot of hard work and you have to seize the opportunities that present themselves.”

“All of these opportunities are there for you to take,” he said. “They don’t always have to be opportunities that you’re going to know 100 percent about. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.”

Michael O'Connor
O'Connor also offered personalized advice to job seekers during Career Fair's one-on-one coaching sessions. Photo by Kevin Schumacher/GIA

Amanda J. Luke is a senior communications manager at GIA. She is the editor of the GIA Insider and Alum Connect and was the editor of The Loupe magazine.