The jewelry industry gathered this past weekend for its annual celebratory weekend in New York City—sometimes referred to as 24 Karat weekend or GEM Awards weekend in reference to its glittering evening events.
I was lucky enough to attend several of the happenings alongside a few colleagues from Jewelers Mutual (publisher of The Zing Report).
I missed Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s annual luncheon at the InterContinental Barclay, but Mark Smelzer, VP of Content at Jewelers Mutual, raved about the occasion, saying, “There was so much energy in the room, and CEO Tiffany Stevens and her team continue to do an amazing bon elevating that organization, making it smarter and better.”
Jeff Fischer, president of Fischer Diamonds, received the Stanley Schechter Award, and became emotional talking about his wife in his acceptance speech—a heartfelt moment. Fischer’s been a board member of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee for over 20 years and served as its chairman from 2012 to 2014. Stevens then led a fascinating one-on-one interview with Ambassador James C. O’Brien, head of the U.S. Office of Sanctions Coordination, who by all accounts said the U.S. will certainly be tightening current Russian diamond sanctions.
Later that night, the industry slipped into finest formal-with-an-edge garb to attend Jewelers of America’s 21st annual GEM Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street. It’s one my favorite events of the year because it does a wonderful job of identifying and celebrating the designers, retailers, and manufacturers who are truly pushing the jewelry and watch industry forward.
Watch world legend Steven Kaiser was honored with a posthumous GEM Award for Lifetime Achievement, and his sweet family accepted the award on stage following a touching video showing Steven at work with major brands and industry associations (and also at play with his pet tortoise!).
Gucci was honored with the inaugural GEM Award for High Jewelry Excellence; a glamorous and game Jodie Turner Smith presented the award to Susan Chokachi, Gucci’s chief brand officer, and later corralled designers for pictures in front of the event’s step-and-repeat (see photo above, and more from that delightful scene here). Hodinkee took home the GEM Award for Watch Excellence, and Anita Ko won the GEM Award for Jewelry Design (the other nominees were Kirsty Stone of Retrouvaí and David Rees and Ron Anderson of Ten Thousand Things).
The GEM Award for Media Excellence was awarded to Michelle Graff of National Jeweler (Amy Elliott and Sarah Royce-Greensill were the other Media Excellence nominees). And Greenwich St. Jewelers took home the award for GEM Award for Retail Excellence (the other nominees for Retail Excellence were Sotheby’s and Zadok Jewelers).
The next day, the Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA) hosted its annual luncheon at the stately New York Yacht Club. JSA president John Kennedy presented the organization’s 18th annual Industry Service Award to Stanley Oppenheim, founder and CEO of DGA Security Systems, and its 24th Annual James B. White Law Enforcement Award to Joseph Metsopulos, a detective with the Major Case Squad of the New York City Police Department. Metsopulos has investigated over 250 diamond and jewelry cases, and his work has led to the recovery of millions of dollars in stolen merchandise. Great food, great times.
Twenty-Four Karat Club Banquet
The Twenty-Four Karat Club of New York’s 120th annual banquet at Cipriani South Street capped the celebratory weekend—and the highlight of that event was world-renown singer Chris Macchio singing the National Anthem and a second classical piece, his incredible voice filling the room and sending chills down our backs. Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo was the evening’s main entertainment; he performed Sinatra-style standards with an excellent live backing band.
Sunday morning, those of us who came from out of town had to strategize our exits from NYC around the New York City marathon’s many street closures (I had to dash across one of the race’s most bustling arteries to meet my train on time, which was not pretty!).
That mild panic aside, it was a banner weekend for me, my colleagues, and the NYC jewelry and watch industry. Congrats to all the winners, awardees, nominees, and hard-working event planners. You not only did it—you raised the bar!
Top photo: Actor Jodi Turner Smith (in the silver and black jumpsuit up front), taking a group photo with designers and industry pros at the GEM Awards.