And the Best Jewelry Award Goes to…

As far as jewelry goes, the star-studded crowd at the Golden Globes had nothing on the sparkling masses that descended on the Waldorf-Astoria on Saturday night for the 111th annual gala organized by the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York.

If you weren’t at the Waldorf, schmoozing in the suites or clinking glasses with your table mates in the hotel’s cavernous grand ballroom, let me summarize the scene this way: No one goes unadorned at Twenty-Four Karat, not even the dudes. Diamonds, rubies, tourmalines, emeralds—these were the obvious accessories, worn in sizes that most people would mistake for costume jewelry. I’m talking diamonds as big as sugar cubes and pearls as white and puffy as popcorn.

Exhibit A: Randi Molofsky of Gemfields wore an enormous emerald and diamond ring by Fabergé to the Twenty Four Karat gala.

But it wasn’t just the usual gem suspects on display. Rick Harmon, founder of the Harmon Group in Nashville, Tenn., sported a set of fossilized mastodon horn shirt studs that were far more interesting than anything worn on Hollywood’s red carpet.

Despite the shaky results from holiday 2012, the trade partied up its usual storm, first in the suites (the Herbert Hoover suite commandeered by the JCK crew was the most happening scene, by far) and then on the floor of the grand ballroom. All politics aside, the evening’s headliner, comedian Dennis Miller, was a welcome stage presence following the downright awful opening act, a wacky magician whose performance was nothing short of excruciating.

“I’m thinking of opening a store that sells only brick and mortar,” Miller said in one of his first bits, hitting the audience in its collective soft spot.

Earlier in the day, a more serious, yet still upbeat, mood prevailed at the Jewelers’ Security Alliance 130th anniversary luncheon at the Pierre Hotel. President John J. Kennedy hoisted an antique-looking volume on stage and proclaimed that it was the original minute book from the organization’s first meeting on April 25, 1883.

“The evidence it presents,” he said, speaks to JSA’s longevity, its enduring relationships, and its unwavering focus on its mission—to keep the jewelry, watch, and diamond industry safe from crime.

“And who kept the minutes from that meeting?” Kennedy asked. “Daniel Hopkinson, the publisher of The Jewelers’ Circular, which has evolved today into JCK magazine.”

Thanks for the shout-out, John—not to mention the 130-year-long relationship! Congratulations on your much-admired stewardship of a first-rate organization.

And that was just Saturday. The awards weekend began in earnest on Friday at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s annual luncheon, followed by the 11th annual GEM Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street later that night. Numerous people were honored over the course of the events, but none more often—nor more deservedly—than Matt Runci, the outgoing president and CEO of Jewelers of America.

Seen at the JCK suite at the Waldorf Astoria on Twenty Four Karat night: Bill Farmer of Farmer’s Jewelry in Lexington, Ky., (left) and Matt Runci

Matt’s remarks about the social, ethical, and environmental issues that dominated the last decade of his tenure at JA proved him to be one of the industry’s straightest shooters. (See JCK‘s news story about his speech here.)

“I’m going to suggest we stop thinking about this endeavor as CSR—corporate social responsibility—and start thinking of it as CSV: creating shared value,” he said. “If we as an industry don’t define best practices in this area and demonstrate that we have incorporated these practices into the day to day running of our businesses, then we leave it for others to paint a picture for us—and I promise it won’t be painted in the flattering terms we would choose ourselves.”

“So let’s never lose sight of the fact that for us to be able to sell products that deliver on promises of dreams and emotions, we must recognize that we each bear a piece of the responsibility for enabling those upon whom we depend—the small scale diggers and cutters—to fulfill their dreams and wishes for a better life,” Runci concluded.

Amen! Thank you for your wise leadership, Matt. And good luck to your successor, Dave Bonaparte, formerly the JCK show’s fearless leader. I wish you both the very best.