30th Annual WJA Awards of Excellence and Hall of Fame Winners Announced

by Robyn Hawk on August 1, 2013


30th Annual WJA Awards of Excellence and Hall of Fame Winners Announced

A Celebration of the Deserving Women and Men in the Jewelry Industry 


Spirits were high at Chelsea Piers’s PIER 60, as a record number of industry insiders celebrated the 30th Annual WJA Awards for Excellence on Monday, July 29th. The evening’s top honors, Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award went to Candy Udell, president of London Jewelers (pictured left); Standard Chartered Bank accepted the Corporate Hall of Fame Award and Darwin Copeman, of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, (pictured below) was honored with The Ben Kaiser Award, an honor bestowed on industry men who show extraordinary support of women in the business.
Attending the evening were over 700 industry members and leaders such as Varda Shine 
of De Beers, Helene Fortunoff, David and Sybil Yurman, principals and representatives of the world’s top luxury brands such as Barbara Cirkva, VP of Chanel Fashion, Watches and Fine Jewelry Group.
The evening opened with a buzzing cocktail reception, a “Chance Auction,” and an  opportunity to bid on items available through CharityBuzz.com, including an African Safari with a private Diamond Cutting Facility Tour, a one-of-a-kind experience that only this industry can provide (donated by Julius Klein Group). All proceeds from the auction benefit the WJA’s Scholarship Fund, which supports the educational and professional development of young talent at many levels of the industry. This year the WJA is awarding over $30,000 in honor of the organization’s 30th Anniversary.
After the cocktail reception, guests proceeded to the main ballroom for a three-course gourmet dinner and the official program, where Hall of Fame recipients accepted their awards and category winners were announced. On hand for the presentation of the Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award to Mrs. Udell was Nassau County District Attorney and NY State rising political star Kathleen Rice.
“The honor for me is to stand among each of you tonight and call you my colleagues and 
friends,” noted Mrs. Udell from the stage. “London Jewelers still operates with that mom 
and pop mentality. We are more than just purveyors; we are purveyors of memories. I couldn’t be more thankful for that every day.” She later went on to quip, “Jewelry is a woman’s best insurance policy; when the going gets tough, put on your jewels and smile.”
WJA also presented Awards for Excellence in retail, design, manufacturing/ supplier, 
sales, marketing and communications, editorial/reporting/publishing, and special services.
“I have the luckiest job in the world,” enthused Irene Neuwirth, whose jewelry has been 
seen on A-list celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron and who accepted the Award for Excellence in Design. “I get to wake up and create something new every day. I am so grateful to do what I do and grateful to be recognized by the Women’s Jewelry Association.”
                          
“We honored and celebrated the extraordinary women and men who continually serve and impact the jewelry industry,” stated Tryna Kochanek, president of the Women’s Jewelry Association. “The Awards for Excellence Gala has become one of the industry’s premier events, where long-time industry veterans can mingle with young stars of tomorrow. At this year’s gala, we congratulated the deserving individuals and organizations honored, and celebrated the rich history of WJA’s first 30 years by presenting special Swarovski-commissioned trophies to all our past and current presidents.”
                       
Happy 30th Birthday to the Women's Jewelry Associat
Festivities continued into the late hours as guests danced to upbeat tunes spun by a special guest DJ and sampled desserts during the “after party,” a novelty at this year’s event designed to celebrate the special anniversary, and likely to become a new tradition.

The complete list of nominees and winners is listed below, winners are highlighted.


CATEGORY I. 
DESIGN– Fine Jewelry & Watches
1. Coomi –Coomi
2. Pamela Froman –Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry
3. Irene Neuwirth –Irene Neuwirth, Inc.
4. Alex Woo –Alex Woo

CATEGORY II. MANUFACTURER/DEALER/SUPPLIER for FINE JEWELRY/
GEMSTONES/ METALS/WATCHES
1. Lita Asscher –Royal Asscher
2. Danielle Ingwer Cohen –Leo Ingwer, Inc.
3. Laurie Watt –Mayer & Watt

CATEGORY III. 
RETAIL –15 Doors or More1. Linda Bridgewater –Fred Meyer
2. Vida Farwana –Saks Fifth Avenue
3. Patricia Watkins—Western Stone/Shane
CATEGORY IV. 
RETAIL –Fewer than 15 Doors
1. Shannon Daly –Robbins Bros.
2. Cynthia Gould –Gould’s Diamonds and Jewelry
3. Ellen Lacy –Lacy’s
4. Joanne Teichman –Ylang23

CATEGORY V. 
RETAIL –Non-Traditional
1. Jessica Herrin –Stella & Dot
2. Angelina Chen –Circa
3. Amy Jain & Daniella Yacobovsky –Bauble Bar 
4. Lauren Santo Domingo –Moda Operandi
CATEGORY VI. 
SALES & MERCHANDISING
1. Candace Edelman –Alex Sepkus, Inc.
2. Andrea Galella –Hermes of Paris
3. Amy Jackson –Fragments
4. Jennifer O. Calleri –MJ Christensen 
5. Abigail Huhtanen – Bergdorf Goodman
CATERGORY VII. 
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
1. Caryl Capeci –Hearts On Fire
2. Amanda Gizzi –Jewelers of America
3. Rebecca Moskal –CommuniqueLA

CATEGORY VIII. 
MEDIA1. Melissa Colgan –Martha Stewart Weddings
2. Michelle Graff –National Jeweler
3. Claudia Mata –W Magazine
4. Monica Stephenson –idazzle
CATEGORY IX. 
SPECIAL SERVICES
1. Brenda Gamba –Jewelers Board of Trade
2. Debbie Hiss –Training Consultant
3. Kristie Nicolosi –The Kingswood Company
CharityBuzz.com items, the proceeds of which will benefit the WJA Scholarship Fund, will be available online until August 9 through this link.
Established in 1984, the WJA Annual Awards for Excellence gala is one of the most well 
attended and highly anticipated events in the jewelry industry each year. 

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