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Industry News: WJA Awards Moves Online; Free GIA Courses Popular; New Plumb Club Podcasts Available; More June 03, 2020 (0 comments)


WJA Schedules Virtual 2020 Awards for Excellence Celebration

New York, NY—Like many other industry associations, the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) has been forced to cancel its signature annual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Awards for Excellence gala, which had been scheduled to take place July 27 in New York City, will be held virtually instead. The event will take place the same day online and will include a special keynote presentation. (Image: the 2019 event at Pier Sixty in New York City).

“The WJA Awards for Excellence gala is our annual opportunity to celebrate women’s expanding leadership in the jewelry industry, while also raising funds to support a new generation of women designers and small business owners through our grant and scholarship programs,” says WJA board president Jacqueline Cassaway. “This year, we’ll continue the celebration online, while also offering a keynote presentation to inspire all supporters of women’s success. Be sure to save the date!”

WJA chapters around the nation have hosted more than 50 online networking, education, and leadership development events since the pandemic first forced national lockdowns in March. 

“Our national and regional programs have covered a wide spectrum of topics, from building your brand online, financial management, and market analysis to creation in isolation, responsible sourcing, and learning about vintage jewelry,” says WJA Executive Director Jennifer Markas. 

WJA members are making use of the organization’s various online resources, including WJA Connect, a platform to collaborate, share knowledge, and build relationships; Negotiable, WJA’s online negotiation skills training course; and Mentor Match, a new custom online tool in WJA’s mentorship program that allows users to set up a profile and select preferences that align with their schedules and availability.

The organization also is in the process of choosing the recipients of its 2020 scholarships and grants, administered by the WJA Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation. Women entering the jewelry industry are using these funds to further their educations or prepare their businesses for the new post-pandemic world.

For more information contact Jennifer Markas,


More Than 10,000 Benefit from GIA’s Online Education Offer

Carlsbad, CA—More than 10,000 people enrolled in more than 25,000 introductory online GIA Essentials courses, benefitting from the Institute’s offer of no-cost classes with start dates in May and June. Those classes filled in just three weeks of their being announced. 

“This incredible response demonstrates the broad interest in GIA education and credentials,” said Duncan Pay, GIA senior vice president of education and chief academic officer. “In a very short time, more than three times the usual annual number of people enrolled in the GIA Essentials classes.”

 Due to the overwhelming response, all of the classes available during the May-to-June no-cost offer filled to capacity by May 20. GIA had to close the offer and stop accepting applications and enrollments for the May and June classes. GIA Essentials courses starting in July and later are available at the regular tuition of US$250 for each course.

 “During these challenging times, we were able to offer thousands of people in more than 110 countries from Australia to Zambia the opportunity to explore what GIA education has to offer,” said Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO. “Helping so many people new to or within the gem and jewelry industry through education is the foundation of our consumer-protection mission. We are delighted with the incredible response from those wishing to further their education and those rekindling their passion for gemology.”

The no-cost offer gave new students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of gems and jewelry. Eligible courses included Jewelry Essentials, Colored Stone Essentials and Diamond Essentials. By completing all three courses, students can earn the GIA Applied Jewelry Professional (AJP) diploma.

More information about GIA education courses is available here.


Plumb Club Adds Two Podcasts For June

New York, NY—The Plumb Club has added two new retail education podcasts into its library. June’s podcasts deliver information and insights about advertising and promotion. As stores are starting to reopen, promotion via advertising and PR is both timely and necessary for retailers looking to get business back, attract consumers, and keep their stores in top-of-mind presence. Both podcasts provide strategies, knowledge, and immediate action steps to help retailers achieve these goals. 

Advertising Myth-Busters – Expectancy vs. Reality by Brian Lazar, vice president of IGS Creative advertising agency, gives insight into the “myths” of advertising and the reality of what it can and can’t do. He explains advertising goals and how advertising can position a store. Further, he takes the listener through the execution of good advertising and the pros and cons of various ad placement vehicles. 

Public Relations Ground Rules – Growing Business Using PR by Heather Zachary and Melissa Berry of H&M Media boutique public relations agency will take listeners through the art of writing an effective press release and when it’s appropriate to use a media alert. Other topics include how to build a media list and target appropriate editors with relevant messaging that compels them to run your story, and insight into the delicate art of “follow up” with the press, and how to repurpose effectively on social media. 

“Our podcasts are receiving great reviews from the industry,” said Lawrence Hess, executive director of The Plumb Club. “These podcasts give retailers another valuable tool to help them succeed, while fulfilling our mission to add value to the jewelry industry through education.” 

Podcasts are added monthly. The newest podcasts, as well as the previous ones, are available at


Swiss Gem Lab Launches DNA Fingerprinting Technology To ID Pearl Species

Basel, Switzerland—The Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF), in partnership with the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich, is introducing a new service to document the origin and provenance of pearls. It expands the organization’s DNA fingerprinting reference database and capabilities to include the eight oyster species that most pearls found in the natural and cultured pearl trade:

DNA fingerprinting of pearls was first developed by SSEF and ETH Zurich in 2013. (DNA Fingerprinting of Pearls to Determine Their Origins, Meyer et al). The quasi non-destructive method has since been refined further, reducing the amount of material required from the pearl for testing to an infinitesimal amount.

SSEF’s research on species identification creates important opportunities to better understand historic pearl trading routes and the origins of notable pearls. In combination with age dating technology, it is possible to gain previously inaccessible scientific insights into the formation of pearls.

"We are happy to build on decades of pearl research at SSEF to launch this new service for the pearl trade,” said Dr. Michael S. Krzemnicki, director. “DNA fingerprinting will contribute to further documenting the origin and geographic provenance of historic natural pearls and traceability efforts in the cultured pearl trade.”

Dr. Adelgunde Kratzer of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich added: “In addition to our collaboration on DNA testing of precious corals and ivory, we are pleased to be able to contribute our lab expertise to documenting pearls, which are one of the oldest and most iconic gems known to humankind.”

Detailed information can be found in this journal article.  

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