The jewelry industry had a very big week last week! Professionals from all sectors of the industry gathered in New York to attend annual celebrations toasting some of the brightest stars in the jewelry, gemstone, and retail worlds.
Jewelers of America’s GEM Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street was a glamorous affair (black tie was optional, but many opted for it). Cocktails and a sit-down dinner led into the awards program, which featured a thrilling cameo by Blake Lively, who awarded her friend, designer Lorraine Schwartz, with the GEM Award for Jewelry Style. “What drives her is the people, the humanity, the connectivity, the love,” Lively said. “Her work is really made of love…And she won’t lie to you if she doesn’t like your movie!”
It was a notably star-studded show. Kim Kardashian showed up on video to toast Schwartz, Tina Knowles (Beyonce’s mom) was seated at one of the front tables, and Jennifer Connolly, Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski, and singer Lily Allen mingled with attendees in the huge hall. Porowski and Allen, both decked out in Foundrae jewelry, were guests of that brand’s founder, Beth Bugdaycay, who was nominated for the Jewelry Design GEM.
Jewelry designer Stephen Webster, who’s certainly a celebrity in the jewelry world, presented the GEM Award for Jewelry Design to Lauren Harwell Godfrey of Harwell Godfrey. Marion Fasel bequeathed the award for Media Excellence to Melanie Grant, and Paul Schneider of Twist presented Naples, Fla., store Marissa Collections with the award for Retail Excellence.
De Beers marketing guru Stephen Lussier was honored with the GEM Award for Lifetime Achievement, and said in his speech, “Consumers want to associate with the categories of products and brands that share their values. That to me is the new part of the diamond dream.”
The next day at the Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA) luncheon at the stately New York City Yacht Club, JSA president John Kennedy gave the James B. White Award to Law Enforcement award to Miami Beach detective Robert Lanier. Kennedy also gave a warm sendoff to Sheri Ihde, Jewelers Mutual’s longtime manager of industry relations and trade shows who’s retiring in June, noting, “Everybody loves Sheri.”
Susan M. Jacques, president and CEO of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), was awarded the JSA Industry Service Award for masterminding the free training offered by GIA to FBI and local law enforcement personnel.
The following day, at the 24 Karat Club Black Tie Gala, guests were treated to an amazing new location, Cipriani South Street. Located in the beautifully restored Beaux-Arts 1909 Battery Maritime Building, the event was a fresh take on an old classic. As always, there was no official program to the event besides networking, dining, drinking, and dancing, all of which were fully embraced. The evening was capped by a rousing performance by Nile Rodgers and his iconic band Chic, which packed the dance floor!
The weekend was also full of jewelry market previews and several board meetings. But, as always, what we love most about these action-packed industry weeks is the togetherness: the chance run-ins with old friends and colleagues, the laughter-filled coffee date with someone we’d only previously met on Zoom, and the chance to celebrate an industry that, more and more, celebrates and values inclusion, grit, and uncommon talent and artistry.
Cheers to you, and cheers to us!
Top photo of Lorraine Schwartz winning her GEM Award by Bart Gorin (GEM Awards photos courtesy of Jewelers of America; all other photos by Emili Vesilind)