Power List 2015: Power Base



Our annual list of 50 (or so) CEOs, retailers, designers, and tastemakers who shape and innovate the jewelry and watch biz. 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Bernard Arnault
Chairman and CEO, LVMH

Arnault heads the world’s leading luxury conglomerate, overseeing seven watch and jewelry brands, including Hublot, TAG Heuer, and De Beers.

 

2. Edward Asscher
President, World Diamond Council

While the Dutch diamond veteran has his hands full heading the often-contentious group that represents the industry in front of the Kimberley Process, he also heads Royal Asscher Diamond Co., a growing force in the U.S. market.

 

3. Ruth Batson
Executive director and CEO, American Gem Society

Batson has spent more than a decade at the helm of the esteemed Las Vegas–based group, which this year will live-stream its popular annual Conclave from New Orleans.

 

4. Anish Bhatt
Founder, WatchAnish

With more than 1 million Instagram followers, Bhatt’s feed led Forbes to call him the “watch king,” with a growing influence among timepiece enthusiasts.

 

5. David J. Bonaparte
President and CEO, Jewelers of America

Now in his third year as JA president, Bonaparte made waves in January when the group purchased venerable B2B news site National Jeweler, which JA will run as a for-profit subsidiary.

 

6. Ed and Jon Bridge
Co-CEOs, Ben Bridge Jeweler

The affable Bridge cousins, both grandsons of the company namesake, have run the 70-store chain for more than a decade—though they hint they may soon hand over control to the next generation.

 

7. Frederic Cumenal
CEO, Tiffany & Co.

The former CEO of LVMH-owned champagne brand Moet & Chandon, Cumenal joined Tiffany four years ago; he takes over the esteemed blue-box retailer this month now that CEO Michael Kowalski is leaving.

 

8. François Curiel
International Head of Luxury Group, Christie’s

In 2014, Christie’s stood as the largest jewelry auctioneer in the world for the 21st year in a row, selling a staggering $747 million and establishing nine world records.

 

9. Stanislas de Quercize
CEO, Cartier

Finishing his second year heading the Richemont-owned maison, de Quercize made a splash at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie by unveiling the brand’s most complicated watch ever.

 

10. Jean-Frédéric Dufour
CEO, Rolex

The sixth CEO of arguably the world’s best-known watch company, Dufour until last year headed the LVMH-owned Zenith, where he is credited with leading that brand’s resurgence.

 

11. Peter M. Engel
President and CEO, Fred Meyer Jewelers

Engel, the past chair of Jewelers for Children, heads Fred Meyer Jewelers. Owned by supermarket giant Kroger, it now numbers more than 320 stores, making it the second-largest jewelry chain in America.
 

12. Anders Colding Friis
President and CEO, Pandora

The former head of a major tobacco company, Friis took over the revitalized bead brand last month.

 

13. Jack and Dominick Gabriel
CEO and senior vice president, Gabriel & Co.

After more than a quarter century in the diamond jewelry business, the Gabriel brothers hired global style director Hal Rubenstein to help streamline the brand, with the goal of making it more consumer-facing.
 

 

14. Cecilia Gardner
President, CEO, and general counsel, Jewelers Vigilance Committee

As the government continues to take a not-always-friendly interest in the industry, Gardner’s group informs jewelers of their obligations under the law on everything from grading to lead-glass–filled rubies.

 

15. Jonathan Goldman
Chairman and CEO, Frederick Goldman Inc.

Already a manufacturing powerhouse, Goldman’s company looks to grow with the recent purchase of its once-bitter rival Scott Kay.

 

16. Ian Harebottle
CEO, Gemfields

In September, Gemfields, already a giant in gemstones, acquired a 75 percent interest in a Sri Lanka sapphire mine; it now has a presence in all of the “Big Three” colored stones.

 

17. G. Nicolas “Nick” Hayek Jr.
CEO, Swatch Group

As head of the world’s largest watchmaker, Hayek controls 18 brands as well as noted retailer Harry Winston. This year, the company will introduce a smartwatch that, unlike Apple’s, will require no charging.

 

18. Effy Hematian
CEO, Effy

Hematian’s brand, founded in 1979, has become an integral part of Macy’s jewelry offerings, with the designer himself doing voiceovers for the department store’s commercials.

 

19. Douglas Hucker
CEO, American Gem Trade Association

In recognition of his service to the gemstone group and the industry, Hucker won the American Gem Society’s prestigious Triple Zero Award last summer.

 

20. Susan Jacques
President and CEO, Gemological Institute of America

In the last year, Jacques has recruited several notable industry members to the world’s largest gem educational organization and grading lab, including former banker Anna Martin.

 

21. Amy Jain (r.) and Daniella Yacobovsky
Founders, BaubleBar

Founded by two then–under-30 Harvard Business School grads, BaubleBar in the last year announced a collaboration with Emma Roberts, and secured $10 million in new financing.

 

22. Erik Jens
CEO, ABN Amro Bank’s International Diamonds and Jewelry Group

Always one of the largest banks in the diamond business, ABN Amro’s diamond and jewelry division has only grown in importance as more financial institutions leave the industry.

 

23. Harvey S. Kanter
CEO and president, Blue Nile

Still the largest U.S. jewelry pure-play dot-com, Blue Nile has been moving beyond its core engagement business by adding fashion items, including a proprietary line from Zac Posen, not to mention a brick-and-mortar location.

 

24. John J. Kennedy
President, Jewelers’ Security Alliance

Industry crime is slipping and arrests are up, thanks in part to the vigilance Kennedy and his group maintain in order to keep our businesses safe.

 

25. Dione Kenyon
President, Jewelers Board of Trade

Even though online listings have, for many, usurped the JBT’s famed “red book,” the group is still the definitive word on trade creditworthiness.

 

26. Greg Kwiat
CEO, Fred Leighton; Partner, Kwiat

Since the Kwiat family bought the once-bankrupt Fred Leighton brand in 2009, the former Wall Street banker has turned the jeweler into a red-carpet mainstay with grand ambitions; Fred Leighton recently introduced a men’s wristwatch and accessories line.

 

27. Eddie LeVian
CEO, Le Vian Corp.

The man who put the words chocolate and diamonds together, LeVian took his company in a new direction in January when he began to brand handbags, shoes, and scarves with the Le Vian name.

 

28. Mark Light
CEO, Signet Jewelers

Following the resignation of Mike Barnes in October, Light took the reins of the world’s largest jeweler by store count. His No. 1 task: completing the integration of Signet’s longtime rival, Zale Corp., which it bought last May.

 

29. Philippe Mellier
CEO, De Beers Group

The former car executive has made his mark on the world’s largest diamond miner, which last year accounted for one-third of parent company Anglo American’s profits.

 

30. Nehal Modi
CEO, Gitanjali USA and Samuels Jewelers 

Modi heads perhaps the most vertically integrated mass merchant in the United States, a chain of more than 100 stores owned by Indian sightholder Gitanjali.

 

31. Sally Morrison
Managing director, jewelry, World Gold Council

The former head of De Beers’ Diamond Information Center, Morrison runs the WGC’s jewelry operations, with a mandate to expand its popular LoveGold campaign.

 

32. Pam Mortensen
Senior vice president and general merchandise manager, fine jewelry, J.C. Penney

Through all the behind-the-scenes turmoil at J.C. Penney, jewelry has been a solid performer for the department store thanks to Mortensen, previously the head jewelry buyer at Wal-Mart.

 

33. Irene Neuwirth*
Designer and owner, Irene Neuwirth Jewelry

Between opening her first-ever freestanding boutique and winning the 2014 CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design, Neuwirth is fast becoming young Hollywood’s go-to red-carpet jeweler (three words: Lena Dunham’s pearls).

 

34. Jesper Nielsen
Founder and CEO, Endless Jewelry

The founder of Pandora’s Central and Western Europe division, Nielsen has, in just two years, made a name for his up-and-coming charm brand, which he vows will be bigger than his old company.

 

35. Lupita Nyong’o
Academy Award–winning actress

On her road to Oscar glory, the 12 Years a Slave actress rocked everything from ear cuffs to headbands—cementing her red-carpet star status with the Fred Leighton Crescent Collection, a capsule line inspired by her 2014 Oscar-night jewelry.

 

36. Mavji Patel
Managing director, Kiran Gems

Billing itself as the world’s largest diamond manufacturer, Kiran processes more than 5.8 million carats of rough a year, yielding 1.6 million carats of polished.

 

37. Larry Pelzel
Vice president, precious jewels division, Neiman Marcus

A multidecade industry veteran, Pelzel won the Jewelers of America’s GEM Award for lifetime achievement in January, and vowed he wasn’t going anywhere.

 

38. Carolyn Rafaelian
Founder, creative director, and CEO, Alex and Ani

Rafaelian took over as interim CEO of the fast-growing bangle brand last May; she now says the post is her “dream job” and that she plans to stay.

 

39. Beryl Raff
Chairwoman and CEO, Helzberg Diamonds

The third-largest jewelry chain in the United States, Helzberg in November added in-store pickup for online orders, capitalizing on the growing omni-channel trend.

 

40. Martin Rapaport
Chairman, Rapaport Group

Not content to be a major force in diamond prices, Rapaport last year shook up the lab sector when he banned diamonds with EGL reports from his RapNet trading network.

 

41. Todd Reed*
Designer and founder, Todd Reed

The Boulder, Colo.–based raw-diamond pioneer recently broke into men’s jewelry in a big way: in a three-story, 6,000-square-foot flagship in Venice, Calif. Plus, he introduced about 600 just-for-guys jewels including belt buckles, rings, bracelets, dog tags, and more.

 

42. Johann Rupert
Executive chairman, Richemont

After a yearlong sabbatical, Rupert in September once again took control of the luxury giant, owner of such illustrious names as Cartier, Montblanc, Piaget, and Panerai.

 

43. Thierry Stern
President, Patek Philippe

At November’s characteristically swank 175th anniversary celebration in Geneva, Stern swore the vaunted watchmaker would remain independent.

 

44. Matt Stuller
Founder and chairman, Stuller

Best known for findings, the Louisiana powerhouse now offers a growing suite of tech offerings, part of its promotion of custom design.

 

45. Haig Tacorian
Founder and CEO, Tacori Enterprises

Ever since Tacori supplied the engagement ring that Chandler used to propose to Monica on Friends, the brand has become a bridal sensation and a growing force on the fine-fashion jewelry scene.

 

46. Elliot Tannenbaum
Senior principal, Leo Schachter Diamond Group

The Israeli sightholder behind Sterling’s Leo diamond is joining with Forevermark to promote LVE, its new co-brand aimed at millennials.

 

47. Dennis Ulrich
CEO, Richline Group

The Warren Buffett–owned jewelry manufacturer surprised many by embracing wearables; the company attended the CES show in January and announced a fleet of deals with tech companies.

 

48. Yancy Weinrich
Senior vice president, JCK, Reed Exhibitions

Weinrich’s January promotion gives her more time to chart the strategic direction of the JCK Events portfolio, which remains the most important in the U.S. industry.

 

49. Kent Wong
Managing director, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group

The world’s largest jeweler in terms of sales, Wong’s 2,000-store chain is active mostly in Hong Kong and China. But it attracted notice in America with last year’s purchase of Hearts On Fire.

 

50. David Yurman*
Founder and CEO, David Yurman

Again heading his renowned design house, Yurman last year opened stores in Canada and New York City’s SoHo, while his company topped L2’s 2014 Digital IQ Index for the watches and jewelry industry.
 

* Denotes people who also appear on JCK’s Power Designers list