The Women's Jewelry Association revealed the 2017 winners of its Awards for Excellence at a gala in New York earlier this week, reports Ashley Davis for National Jeweler. The Design award went to Wendy Brandes, a former journalist and award-winning designer of fine jewelry inspired by women's history and pop culture. Betty Sue King, owner of King’s Ransom, was honored with the award for excellence for a Manufacturer, Dealer, Supplier. “The WJA has no glass ceiling,” she said. Laura Klemt, president of Artistry Ltd., won the award in the Merchandising and Product Development category, and Donna Jolly, director of marketing for the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories, won for Marketing and Communications. The award for Editorial went to Severine Ferrari of Engagement 101, while Pat Henneberry, vice president of learning and development for Hearts On Fire and a National Jeweler columnist, won the Business Services award.
The retail award winners were: Alexis Padis, director of operations, Padis Jewelry, in the Independent category; Beth Gerstein, co-CEO of Brilliant Earth in the new Open Format category; and Judy Fisher, senior vice president of merchandising at Signet Jewelers Ltd. in the Large-Scale retail group. The first Cindy Edelstein Mentorship Award went to longtime industry writer and editor Peggy Jo Donahue, who got her start at JCK magazine and currently contributes to a number of publications, including National Jeweler. Ashley Davis reports that Donahue said she “threw a hissy fit” at the initial suggestion that this new award be earmarked for women only. “It has been men who have mentored us when were just starting out,” she said from the podium. “And it has been men ... who need to continue to give us a hand up and to help us to reach that 50 percent number in the board room and in the executive suites of our companies.”
Additionally, Cecilia Gardner, the former longtime head of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, received the WJA Lifetime Achievement Award. Michael Pollak, CEO of Hyde Park Jewelers, accepted the Ben Kaiser Award, which goes to a man who has been supportive of women in the industry. The WJA Corporate award went to Jeff Corey and Kathy Corey of Day’s Jewelers.