Jewelers Michael Pollak And Alexis Padis Among WJA’s Annual Honorees
New York, NY—Retailers Michael Pollak, CEO of Colorado-based Hyde Park Jewelers, and Alexis Padis (left), director of operations for California-based Padis Jewelers, were among the 14 winners honored by the Women’s Jewelry Association Monday at its annual Awards For Excellence dinner.
Cecilia Gardner, retired CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, was presented with the organization’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Under her leadership for 18 years, JVC evolved from being a watchdog about competitive issues such as deceptive advertising to a global force in ensuring a conflict-free, ethical jewelry supply pipeline. While JVC continued its work to ensure that jewelry advertising remains honest and precious metals are the quality they were stamped, Gardner also served as general counsel for the United States Kimberley Process Authority. JVC, under Gardner’s leadership, also led efforts to force disclosure of diamond and gemstone treatments, to unify appraisal standards, and the enactment of anti-money laundering programs. She retired as CEO earlier this year.
Michael Pollak, CEO of Denver, CO-based Hyde Park Jewelers and Newport Beach, CA-based Traditional Jewelers, was presented with the organization’s Ben Kaiser Award, given to a male in the industry who is committed to furthering the advancement of women. Pollack, whose seven luxury stores are lauded for innovation and groundbreaking retail disruption, also founded Diamonds In The Rough, which has raised nearly $2.5 million to support youth-based nonprofit organizations and local charities. He has served on the boards of many industry associations, including Jewelers of America and the Diamond Empowerment Fund.
Michael Pollak on stage at the WJA Awards For Excellence gala.
The WJA Corporate Award was presented to Jeff and Kathy Corey, owners of Day’s Jewelers, with six locations in Maine and New Hampshire. The firm, a certified member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, is staunch in its efforts to conduct business with transparency, integrity, and responsible practices. The company has received multiple awards for retailing in the industry and from the Retail Association of Maine.
WJA also names winners in 10 categories of the industry. Alexis Padis, director of operations for her family’s jewelry company, received the Award for Excellence in the Independent Retailer category. She manages the largest of her company’s four locations, and spearheads operational improvements, education, and marketing across the company. She is active in the American Gem Society, serving as president of the Northern California Guild, chair of the Conclave Committee, and on the AGS board of directors. She also is active in her family’s other business, Padis Vineyards.
Pat Henneberry, vice president of learning and development for Hearts On Fire, was honored as the winner in the Business Services category. Henneberry, one of the leading sales trainers and coaches in the industry, has worked for prestigious brands like Tiffany, Forevermark, De Beers, and ArtCarved before her present position.
Donna Jolly, director of marketing for the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories, was presented with the Award for Excellence in Marketing and Communications. Under Jolly’s leadership, AGS has developed an audience of 10.5 million consumers for its message of honesty and integrity in the jewelry industry.
Other winners included Wendy Brandes, Design; Betty Sue King, King’s Ransom, for Manufacturer/Dealer/Supplier; Laura Klemt, Artistry, Ltd., for Merchandise and Product Development; Severine Ferrari of Engagement 101 for Editorial Media; Judy Fisher of Signet for Large-Scale Retailing; and Beth Gerstein of Brilliant Earth for Open Format Retail.
The organization also presented its first Cindy Edelstein memorial award for mentorship. Edelstein, who died unexpectedly in 2016, was an ardent supporter and longtime hardworking board member of WJA. She was renowned throughout the industry for being a mentor and advisor to new designers. The award was presented to WJA board member Peggy Jo Donahue, Donahue Communications.
Shigley, Gumuchian, Engel Honored At AGS Circle of Distinction Dinner
New York, NY—Dr. James Shigley, Myriam Gumuchian, and Peter Engel were honored Tuesday at the American Gem Society’s 17th Circle of Distinction Dinner, held at New York City’s historic Plaza Hotel.
Shigley, a Distinguished Fellow of the Gemological Institute of America, received the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award, while both Gumuchian and Engel received AGS’s Triple Zero Awards, Gumuchian is vice president and director of her family’s eponymous company, Gumuchian, and Engel is president of Oregon-based Fred Meyer Jewelers.
From left: Peter Engel, Myriam Gumuchian, and Dr. James Shigley.
In their acceptance speeches, the honorees told personal stories about their careers and inspiration, and expressed their appreciation.
“I have had the privilege of working for GIA for the past 35 years as part of our research team, where we have tried to address the gemological challenges that face the jewelry industry,” said Shigley. “We have shared the results of our research through published articles and educational presentations, including regular talks to AGS members.”
“It’s a distinct pleasure to receive this award and know that I’ve done my part to uphold the ethical standards in our business,” said Engel. “It’s something I take very seriously and impart to every employee at Fred Meyer Jewelers.”
“My father’s company was a member of the American Gem Society and I was always very proud of it,” said Gumuchian. “To me, it was similar to the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. So naturally, when my sister and I joined my mother’s jewelry design company, we applied for membership and have been a member ever since.”
The AGS Triple Zero Award was named after the highest grade in the AGS Diamond Grading Standards, and is presented to members of the jewelry industry for outstanding accomplishments and contributions.