24-7 Jewelry Party People

Jewelers like a good party. This essential fact about the industry was made clear to me during the summer of 2000, when I attended one of my first trade events: a cocktail party in a private salon high above Fifth Avenue. Hosted by Ella Gafter, a glamorous Polish-born jewelry designer who split her time between Rome and New York City, the evening lives on in my memory because it was where I met one of my closest friends, jewelry veteran and JCK contributor Randi Molofsky.

Fittingly, Randi and I had our first conversation at the bar as bow-tied bartenders served us “platinum bullets” (deliciously dangerous combinations of champagne and vodka). We recognized something in each other—an appreciation for the lush life, for starters—so it only seemed right that six months later, when I joined the staff of National Jeweler, where Randi then worked, we began to indulge our party cravings together.

After a dozen years, I’m still making my way along the jewelry party circuit with Randi. The only difference now is that she’s hosting me.

Last Wednesday, Randi threw a swanky shindig at Manhattan’s Hôtel Americano for Gemfields, a London-based miner of colored gemstones. (She is director of marketing and communications for the company in the United States.) The jewel in Gemfields’ crown is its emerald mining operation in Zambia, where about 20 percent of the world’s supply is produced.

The event began with a daytime editor viewing to showcase 30 mostly one-of-a-kind designer jewels incorporating Gemfields’ vibrant emeralds. Intended to promote the company’s products and its ethical mining philosophy to a coterie of jewelry tastemakers—including editors from the top fashion publications and buyers such as Bergdorf Goodman’s Abby Huhtanen—the viewing and intimate dinner that followed succeeded on every level.

If anyone came to Hôtel Americano with a bias toward Colombian emeralds, I think it’s safe to say they left with a thorough re-education. The jewels on display—by high-end brands like Fabergé, emerging fine jewelers such as Alexandra Mor, and cutting-edge fashion jewelers who are ready to make the leap to fine, like the U.K.’s Dominic Jones—glowed a Platonic green in sizes big enough to make the Colombians blush a green of their own.

Alexandra Mor’s one-of-a-kind Gemfields emerald ring, designed specifically for the event at Hôtel Americano

My sincere congratulations go out to Randi and Anna Haber, Gemfields’ director of global marketing (another good friend of mine!), for putting together a fantastic introduction to one of the trade’s up-and-coming firms. (Look for Gemfields’ new ruby and amethyst production to hit the market in 2013.)

 

Randi Molofsky and Anna Haber at the Gemfields event in NYC

I reluctantly dragged myself home from the dinner around midnight so I could pack and prepare for my Thursday morning flight back to L.A., where another party beckoned.

Some weeks ago, I wrote about Patek Philippe’s new boutique in Beverly Hills, opened in partnership with Geary’s, a legendary local retailer. I touched down at LAX just in time to drive to the Luxe Hotel, located directly next door to the boutique, and get ready for a brief one-on-one interview with Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern in advance of the boutique’s official opening festivities that night.

When I pulled up to the Luxe valet stand, the alley behind the hotel swarmed with workers, who were frantically putting together the space that would host us that night. If you’ve ever driven down an L.A. alley, you’ll understand when I say the transformation that took place in the time I was speaking to Mr. Stern and putting my party dress on was nothing short of extraordinary.

A dreary, banal-looking alley separating the buildings on Beverly and Rodeo drives had blossomed into an open-air, multi-room party space surrounded by lush greenery and camel-colored walls, and filled with gourmet food stations, watchmaking displays, and a giant video screen that captivated guests with its larger-than-life close-ups of Patek’s prized timepieces.

In addition to reuniting with some of my favorite watch writers (iW’s Mike Thompson and freelancer Laurie Kahle), I also had the pleasure of chatting with a few Patek collectors. In a cool example of how few degrees truly separate all of us, one of the collectors was the father of a guy named Rishi, who is best friends with Randi’s husband, Nate. Rishi and I did a double take when we recognized each other; we’d both been members of Randi and Nate’s wedding party.

Me and Rishi at the Patek Philippe party in Beverly Hills

The Patek Philippe party even included an after-party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where my boyfriend, Brian, and I sipped Negronis and reflected on the classiness that epitomizes the Geneva watchmaker’s every move.

As if that wasn’t enough partying for one week, I concluded the weekend in San Diego at the 10th annual Taste of Hope wine and food event benefitting the City of Hope, one of only 40 National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers nationwide and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Unlike the Gemfields and Patek celebrations, the Taste of Hope gathering was only peripherally about jewelry. The star of the evening was my dear friend Katey Brunini Marotta—you know her as the fierce and fashionable force behind K. Brunini Jewels—who was honored as the 2012 Ambassador of Hope: “an outstanding leader within the San Diego community who possesses a philanthropic spirit and who has brought inspiration and been an example for others in the fight against cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS,” according to the event’s website.

Shaye Strager Gilmartin (left) and Katey Brunini Marotta (center) at the Taste of Hope event

Katey was introduced to the well-heeled crowd by her publicist and best friend, Shaye Strager Gilmartin, who sparked a rush for tissues among guests with her touching remarks about Katey’s commitment to City of Hope and its mission to find a cure for cancer.

“Hope lies in dreams and imagination and the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality—that’s a quote by Jonas Salk,” Katey said when she took the stage moments later. “I believe that the probability of finding a cure lives in the combination of creativity and science, Eastern and Western thought, the perfection of nature, embracing both our inner tempest and our ability to be quiet—and knowing that life can be beautiful, even in the most difficult circumstances. Thank you all for being in my heart and caring enough to be here, and knowing that we can all change the world.”

Amen, sister. I couldn’t have asked for a more meaningful conclusion to a week of parties that reminded me that while the jewelry trade embraces fun, the good times are anything but frivolous.

Congratulations, Katey! You deserve all the praise and admiration that’s coming your way.