Schupak and Burman receive WJA’s highest honors

Hedda Schupak and Terry Burman were among 10 persons honored Sunday by the Women’s Jewelry Association during the organization’s 23rd annual Awards for Excellence gala, held Sunday at Pier 60 in New York City.

Schupak, editor-in-chief of JCK magazine, received WJA’s highest honor for her 20 years of service in the jewelry industry—all of them with the magazine where she began her career as a production editor and general reporter, then as fashion editor, before becoming the face of JCK in 2000.

In her remarks she spoke about her belief in the integrity and honor of WJA’s mission to empower and to promote talented women into leadership positions. She also added while the male-dominated jewelry industry has hindered talented women in the past, including many of the other Hall of Fame inductees who preceded her, it was something she never experienced at JCK.

“It is a peculiar irony that in an industry where the primary product is intended for women, women themselves have had to struggle for acceptance and recognition. In the industry as a whole, I think women have come a long way, although I still see a few pockets of resistance and discrimination here and there,” she said.

Mark Smelzer, JCK publisher, who introduced Schupak to the more than 500 guests, praised her not only for her talent, but for her qualities as a person.

“As talented and successful as she is,” he said. “She is a completely down-to-earth person.”

Burman, chief executive officer of Signet Group plc., received the Ben Kaiser Lifetime Achievement Award for his support of women in the jewelry industry.

In 1995, Burman joined Sterling Jewelers Inc., the U.S. division of London-based Signet as chairman and CEO. A year later, Burman was named to Signet’s board of directors. In 2000, he was promoted to CEO.

In his remarks, he praised his parents, particularly his mother, for instilling in him a respect for others. He said that he always felt it was important to promote the most talented people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.

“If my mother were here tonight, she would be very proud to see me get this recognition,” he said.

Awards for Excellence also honored eight women in seven different categories within the jewelry industry. The recipients and their categories are as follows:

* Designer – Lisa Jenks, Lisa Jenks Ltd., New York;

* Manufacturer, Dealer, Supplier for Fine Jewelry and Watches – Andrea Hill, CEO, The Bell Group, Albuquerque, N.M.;

* Retail (more than 15 stores) – Debbie Harvey, Director of Merchandise, Shane Co., Englewood, Colo.;

* Retail (fewer than 15 stores) – Sally Furrer, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Robbins Bros., Glendale, Calif.;

* Sales/Merchandise – Susan Rothman, Principal/Director and Co-Founder, Hearts On Fire Company, Boston;

* Marketing/Communications – Marcee Feinberg, Vice President, Marketing, Lazare Kaplan Inc., New York;

* Editorial/Reporting – Victoria Gomelsky, Editor, Couture International Jeweler, New York;

* Special Services – Jennifer Lucker, Senior Vice President, Platinum Guild Intl., South Coast Metro, Calif.

The evening will included a silent auction which raised over $46,000 for WJA’s Scholarship Program and offered such diverse prizes as autographed photos of Mickey Mantle & Joe DiMaggio donated by GCAL Collectors Universe; a 3-day weekend at Chatmar Farms at Paso Robles donated by MVI Marketing; a series of spa packages and beauty products donated by LUCKY, InStyle, Glamour, Allure and the Conde Nast Bridal Group magazines; tickets to the Kips Bay Designer House Tour and lunch at Town restaurant donated by Architectural Digest magazine. Some of the industry’s most successful designers donated pieces to the Silent Auction, including Scott Kay, David Yurman, Yossi Harari, Lagos, Damiani, Laura Gibson, Dian Malouf, Erica Courtney, Hearts On Fire, Cathy Carmendy, Angelique de Paris and retailers such as Bailey Banks & Biddle, and Reinhold Jewelers.