Industry Attends the Oscars of Jewelry

The GEM Awards celebrated the industry’s standout designers and two members of the media

Last night’s Golden Globes had nothing on Friday night’s 14th annual Gem Awards, the jewelry trade’s answer to the Oscars. Held at Cipriani 42nd Street, one of Manhattan’s grandest event spaces, the event is this industry’s most glamorous gathering (by far), bringing together consumer and trade press, designers, watch- and jewelry-makers, and, occasionally, celebrities.

Organized by Jewelers of America (whose tireless, fabulous Amanda Gizzi deserves an award of her own!), the event was live-streamed—catch the red carpet arrivals and winners’ speeches here.

Or, check out my recap:

Cartier took home the inaugural Gem Award for Watch Design—which, to this watch lover, came as no surprise. The new Clé de Cartier collection introduced a shapely new silhouette to the watchmaker’s repertoire in 2015, building on Cartier’s well-documented tradition of creating timeless, memorable designs.

British designer Stephen Webster channeled Ricky Gervais’ snarky hilarity when he presented the Gem Award for Jewelry Design to Temple St. Clair. The New York City–based jeweler had stiff competition: Chopard’s Caroline Scheufele and Istanbul-based master jeweler Sevan Bicakci were her fellow nominees.

St. Clair thanked her retailers in an effusive speech: “Many of you have supported me and taken risks with me since my beginnings,” she said. “I’d like to think that many of you are sort of like the Medicis and the Strozzi, the great patron families of the Florentine Renaissance. But in our era, it’s Marie Helene, Deborah Green’s family, the Rosenheims, the Mitchells, the Siegels, to name a few, and of course the phenom of Saks Fifth Avenue, the one-named wonder Marta!”

Joe Thompson, editor-in-chief of WatchTime magazine, literally moved me to tears when he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award, and thanked his wife and longtime colleague, Norma Buchanan. “We’re a team for 29 years now,” he said, before addressing her directly as she sat in the audience. “All I can say is, Thank you, darling. Without you, there’s no me.”

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Joe Thompson accepting the Gem Award for Lifetime Achievement.

I know from personal experience: Joe is a top-notch writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of the watch industry—and he’s an even finer human being. The award couldn’t have gone to a kinder, wiser soul.

Last but certainly not least, the best part of the evening was when JCK’s very own news director, Rob Bates, was named the winner of the Gem Award for Media Excellence! I was delighted but not surprised. Rob’s Cutting Remarks blog is where you’ll find the industry’s most incisive, relevant, and blunt commentary—on topics ranging from synthetic diamonds to the growing number of retail jewelers who are calling it quits. It’s must-read material for anyone with a stake in the gem and jewelry business. Congrats to Rob on his well-deserved win! I’m thrilled and proud to call you my colleague.

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JCK’s Rob Bates took home the Gem Award for Media Excellence.

In typical Rob fashion, he made a funny, self-effacing speech that noted fellow nominee Kyle Anderson, market and accessories director at Marie Claire magazine:

“It’s very rare for somebody bald like me to lose to somebody with a really good head of hair like Kyle,” Rob said. “And you know, I think I would trade this for a great head of hair, I don’t know.”

Don’t do it, Rob! We love you just the way you are.

Congrats to all the winners of Friday night’s glamour-thon. Can’t wait to do it again!