Industry News: WJA Awards For Excellence; JA Names New Directors; Jewelers Hacked Online; More

July 27, 2016 (0 comments)

WJA Awards for Excellence Winners Honored in NYC

New York—The annual Women’s Jewelry Association Awards For Excellence Gala honored 13 industry luminaries Monday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

There were 10 award winners across eight categories of industry business, along with three previously announced honorees: Sissy Jones of Sissy’s Log Cabin, Pine Bluff, AR, who was named to the association’s Hall of Fame; Seattle, WA-based Ben Bridge Jeweler, which won the WJA Corporate Award for companies that offer outstanding opportunities for women in the industry; and Peter Engel, president of Fred Meyer Jewelers, was the recipient of the association’s Ben Kaiser Lifetime Achievement Award, given to a male in the industry who has exemplified dedication to advancing women’s careers.

Bill Jones of Sissy’s Log Cabin was on hand to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his mother Sissy, who is battling breast cancer and could not attend the event in person. She recorded a video message thanking the WJA for all it does, and her son vowed that his mother would be at the event next year to thank everybody in person.

Nominees in eight individual categories were announced earlier this year but winners were kept under wraps until the gala. They were:

  • Design, Fine Jewelry and Watches category: Claudia Kretchmer of Steven Kretchmer (shown above with partner Josh Helmich) for her work continuing the company started by her late stepfather Steven who was tragically killed 10 years ago in a motorcycle accident. Kretchmer noted he would have celebrated his birthday on Monday as well.
  • Manufacturer, Dealer, Supplier category: Tiffany Kay (below0, daughter of the late Scott Kay, who died of heart failure in late 2014. She thanked the industry that has become “like family,” having grown up in it as many other nominees have.


  • Retail, 15 Doors or More: Marta Nowakowski, Saks Fifth Avenue.
  • Retail, 15 Doors or Fewer: Jennifer Gandia and Christina Gandia Gambale of Greenwich Jewelers in New York City.
  • Retail, Non-Traditional: Kris Kulesza of Jewelry Television
  • Sales and Merchandising: Maren Rosen, Stuller Inc., who reminded the audience just what the WJA stands for. “I have to thank my background in the fashion industry in New York City. When I walked into my very first interview and had a boardroom full of men laugh at me, I took that as the most motivating tool to conquer my dreams.”
  • Communications and Marketing: Jen Cullen Williams, Luxury Brand Group, who joked about thanking “the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] as she accepted her award.
  • Editorial Media: Syl Tang of HipGuide and contributor to the Financial Times.
  • Special Services: Dona Mary Dirlam of Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
  • Watches: Michelle Peranteau, Baume and Mercier.


Ronda Daily, Mike Alexander Join JA Board of Directors

New York, NY—Jewelers of America (JA) elected Mike Alexander of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. and Ronda Daily of Bremer Jewelry to its board of directors. The two, elected at JA’s July 23 meeting, will serve through 2019.

“I’m pleased to welcome Mike and Ronda to the Jewelers of America Board. They each bring experience with the issues our retail and supplier members care about most. I look forward to working with them as we continue with our core missions to support our membership, advocate on behalf of the jewelry industry and maintain consumer confidence,” says JA Board chairman Ryan Berg of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, an eight-store chain based in Louisiana.

Daily, president and CEO of Bremer Jewelry with two stores in Peoria and Bloomington, IL, is an AGS Registered Jeweler and GIA Graduate Gemologist. Her career also includes experience in retail sales and finance, marketing and advertising. Alexander recently joined Jewelers Mutual, Neenah, WI, as senior vice president of commercial lines. He oversees all aspects of commercial lines operations and sales. Prior to joining Jewelers Mutual, he was senior vice president of national sales and strategy at National General Insurance. He also serves on the board of the YMCA of the Fox Cities.

JA’s board of directors is led by an executive committee comprised of chairman Berg, chair-elect John Henne of Henne Jewelers, Pittsburgh, PA; vice chair Mark Light, Sterling Jewelers Inc., Akron, OH; vice chair Holly Wesche, Wesche Jewelers, Melbourne, FL; treasurer Coleman Clark, BC Clark Jewelers, Oklahoma City, OK; and secretary Cathy Tivol, TIVOL, Kansas City, MO. For the full list of JA’s Board of Directors, visit


AJDC Names New Executive Board And Admits Five New Members

Las Vegas, NV--The American Jewelry Design Council (AJDC) selected a new Executive Board and elected five new members during its annual membership meeting last month.

Barbara Heinrich was elected to another term as AJDC president. Pascal Lacroix was elected vice president, Susan Sadler was elected secretary and Cornelia Goldsmith was elected to a term on the executive board. Mark Schneider continues as treasurer and Gregory Morin, Diana Vincent, and Anthony Lent continue as board members.

Five designers were invited to become members of the organization. They are: Arman Sarkisyan, David Freda, Elizabeth Garvin, Merry Lee Rae and Zoltan David.


Gem Dealers Hacked; Association Issues Warning To Industry

New York, NY—Cybercrime has hit the jewelry industry again. Last month the New York Gemstone Association (NYGA) put its membership on alert after some individual members were victims of cyber crime. Their email accounts were hacked and wire transactions were requested to be sent to fraudulent accounts.

Similar incidents also took place with some overseas gem suppliers whose email accounts were compromised. The latest major incident apparently targeted the GJEPC – Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India, with a loss of $715,000 being transferred to a fraudulent bank account.

NYGA has added a cyber security guidance section to its website. Here are key recommendations and preventive measures to take:

  • Confirmation by phone with recipient both prior to and after transmission.
  • Have your company’s wire instructions printed or stamped on each invoice
  • First time transaction should be in small amount and reconfirmed upon receiving the funds.
  • Highly secured email password
  • Change email password periodically
  • Do not open or reply to suspicious email
  • Change passwords when firing employees
  • Do not give away password information or any other information requested by phone or email from any bank or credit card company.
  • If you suspect your computer or email accounts were compromised, get professional help immediately to fix and remove these problems.


MJSA Launches New Designer Collaborative, Names Andrea Hill as Designer Advocate

Attleboro, MA—MJSA this week announced plans to launch the MJSA Designer Collaborative, a community through which jewelry designers can share ideas, discover inspiration, and find support needed to improve their businesses. In related news, Andrea Hill, owner of Hill Management Group, has been appointed MJSA Designer Advocate. In this new role, Hill will be responsible for ensuring that the concerns and needs of jewelry designers are heard and addressed by the association. Hill will continue in her current position as CEO of the Hill Management Group, which provides strategic consulting and marketing services to many small and mid-sized jewelry businesses. 

"Designers are the creative backbone of the jewelry industry, and we want to ensure they have the resources needed to thrive in today's market," said MJSA president and CEO David W. Cochran. "Andrea has a long history dedicated to advancing designers' careers, and I can't think of a better person to advocate on their behalf. Through the new collaborative we'll be able to provide a fertile ground for her advocacy efforts to bear fruit, and to provide designers with a community that they feel truly represents their interests."

The collaborative, which any MJSA member can join free of charge, will provide designers with several ways in which to connect and collaborate: 

  • The MJSA Jewelry Designer Network, an exclusive online social community that enables designers to share information, solicit ideas and feedback, and test new business models and opportunities. The network will launch Aug. 1.
  • A quarterly e-newsletter, MJSA Design Insights, with news of interest to jewelry designers. It will also offer pricing strategies from consultant Marlene Richey, author of the award-winning MJSA Press book Profiting by Design: A Jewelry Maker’s Guide to Business Success
  • A new event, ConFab Creative, augmenting the "profit lessons for designers" offered in MJSA's current ConFab conference (Oct. 30 at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City). ConFab Creative will focus on ways to find design inspiration and insights, and provide technical guidance for turning design concepts into completed pieces. Members of the Designer Collaborative will receive a significant discount off the regular registration fee.
  • A members-only online archive of free design-related articles from MJSA Journal. The Journal will also launch a new "Behind the Design" section starting in the January 2017 issue, featuring case studies, interviews, and practical tips related to jewelry design.
  • Collaborative members will also receive a 50% discount on all videos, webinars, books, podcasts, and other educational materials produced under Hill's MentorWerx brand. 

To learn more about the MJSA Designer Collaborative, visit or call 1-800-444-MJSA for either Andrea Hill (ext. 333) or MJSA membership manager Travis Searle (ext. 3024).


Fiera Di Vicenza And Rimini Fiera To Merge

Vicenza and Rimini, Italy—The boards of directors of Rimini Fiera and Fiera di Vicenza today approved the start of a merger between the two trade fair hubs. Both organizations’ shareholders will have to consent to by the end of the year to complete the merger. The name of the new business that will result from the merger is still classified.

The agreement includes confirmation of Lorenzo Cagnoni as president and CEO, and two members selected by Fiera di Vicenza will have seats on the board. One of those will be Matteo Marzotto, who will be vice president.

“Today’s step is particularly important because the salient points of the agreement have been defined, opening the way for the first example of integration in the Italian trade fair system,” said Cagnoni, currently president of Rimini Fiera.

“I am particularly pleased with this result,” said Marzotto, currently president of Fiera di Vicenza. “This operation will change the paradigm in the Italian trade fair system, capitalizing on an industrial project with great leverage.”

The next step is to appoint an expert to evaluate the organizations.

Human check:

What is day follows Thursday?

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