I've just completed the whirl that is "24 Karat weekend," three days of black-tie evenings, daytime luncheons, board meetings, and general merriment that revolve around the 24 Karat Club of New York's black-tie banquet in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. While it left me utterly exhausted, this was the most upbeat round of events in recent memory.
The week kicked off with a brand-new event, the Diamond Empowerment Fund's (DEF's) first-ever Good Awards, given to four individuals and their companies for communicating the diamond industry's efforts to educate individuals in the African countries where diamonds are mined. Honorees included Varda Shine of the Diamond Trading Company, Edward Hrabak of Sterling Jewelers, Ivanka Trump of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, and my dear friend Rebecca Foerster of Rio Tinto Diamonds.
Victoria Gomelsky, group sales director Bill Furman, and I posed for a very serious photo at the 24 Karat dinner.
The evening was emceed by Phyllis Bergman, president of the DEF governing board. I especially enjoyed the mix of fashion and music industry players who attended the event (hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons is DEF chairman). A highlight was meeting Fern Mallis, founding organizer of New York Fashion Week.
Next up were Friday's Jewelers Vigilance Committee luncheon and the Jewelry Information Center's JIC Gem Awards. The JVC luncheon is an annual reminder of the tireless work done by Cecilia Gardner and her team to keep our nation's retailers informed about the legal and government issues that affect them. This year's JIC award winners included Ralph Destino, chairman emeritus of Cartier, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. I was fascinated to learn about the depth of Ralph's career and the degree to which he gives back. Very inspirational.
Saturday began with the Jewelers' Security Alliance luncheon. John Kennedy and his team have done a tremendous job keeping our retailers safe from violent crime. Kudos for all your hard work, John!
Finally, the big night arrived, with more than 1,000 industry players attending the annual 24 Karat Club black-tie gala. The energy and optimism in the room was palpable (a solid jobs report the day before helped), and it was a blast to see so many great friends. This year's surprise performer was Howie Mandel, and he was terrific. (A special note of admiration for Roger Gesswein, who, while being heckled, actually walked to the front of the room and sat directly in front of Mandel to take him on!)
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