Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, as Carol Channing sung to Broadway audiences in 1949, but one of the best nights in the jewelry industry’s annual calendar of glamour and gatherings is the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Annual Awards for Excellence.
Now in its 31st year, the awards and association was formed in Boston by a group of women who wanted to create a platform for women to advance in what was then a male dominated industry. Incoming WJA President Andrea Hansen told a full house at New York’s Chelsea Piers that through the decades the association’s mission has stayed true to the vision of its founders.
Ruth Baxton, Executive Director and CEO of American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award joining past winners Candy Udell of London Jewelers, Roberto Coin’s Pilar Cabo Coin, Sybil Yurman of David Yurman, former Zales CEO Mary Forte and journalist Hedda Schupak among others.
Jewelers of America President and CEO Dave Bonaparte, a staple of the industry, received the Ben Kaiser Award while Richline, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. gained the Hall of Fame Corporate Award.
Even the spectacular sunset across the Hudson River was not a rival for the sparkles of the elaborate jewelry in the audience.
Heather Moore (above) of her namesake jewelry brand won the Fine Jewelry Design Award, Chana Regev of Carelle collected the Award for Excellence among Manufacturers, Dealers and Suppliers, Kim Adams of Reeds Jewelers was awarded for Retailers with more than 15 stores while Cathy Calhoun of Calhoun was recognized among retailers with less than 15 doors. Fran Pennella (below) was awarded for her work in Marketing & Communications for her jewelry clients while Fragments’ Amy Jackson was noted for her Sales & Marketing savvy. National Jeweler’s Michelle Graff won for Editorial Excellence (former Elite Traveler Style Editor Tanya Dukes is a past winner) while Desiree Hanson of JCK was recognized in the Special Services category.
Perhaps symbolic of the progress women have made taking leadership in the jewelry industry, Rosanna Sarcona-Doherty of Cartier won the Watches category. In accepting the award she noted that in June Cartier named Mercedes Abramo its first ever woman as CEO of its North America operations.
Showing that woman are indeed multi-dimensional Forevermark’s Natalie Humphrey, the Event Chair, entertained the crowd with a rendition Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend that even Simon Cowell would have approved of.