24 Karat Weekend Spotlights Celebrities, Serious Subjects


The industry celebrated 24 Karat Weekend in style March 8 and 9 in New York City, with a mix of high fashion and weighty topics.

First, on Friday, March 8, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee held its annual luncheon at the InterContinental Barclay hotel.

Matt Stuller, founder and chairman of Stuller, received the group’s Stanley Schechter Award, given to an industry member who upholds the highest standards in professionalism and ethics.

Accepting the award, Stuller recalled that when he opened his business in 1970, people told him his business model would never work.

“That is what gave me the perseverance for all these years,” he said. “Because if I ‘can’t do it’—it’s hard, it’s difficult—I know that I need to do that.”

He decided early on that he would “tithe” 10% of his earnings to charity, which he called the best decision he ever made.

“Being able to give back is the greatest thing that me, my wife, and my family have ever experienced,” he said.

In the luncheon’s emotional high point, JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky interviewed Ukrainian jewelry designer Valeriya Guzema.

“[Pre-invasion] we had a happy life,” Guzema told the crowd. “Then one morning, bombs started to fall. Imagine how any mom would feel when she feels her child is not safe.”

She urged the industry to support sanctions on Russian diamonds. “The money is the source of the terrorism,” she said. “What they make, they put to the war.

“This is the 21st century. I would never believe that I would live through a war. I heard [about war] from my grandparents, who lived through the Second World War, and when they would talk about it, my grandmother [would cry]. I would never want anyone else to feel what I feel today.

“Please, keep doing what you’re doing,” she added. “We are fighting for independence, for democracy. No one knows where the bombs will fall tomorrow.”

On Friday night, Jewelers of America held its 22nd annual Gem Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Cynthia Erivo, 2015 Tony winner for The Color Purple and star of the upcoming Wicked film (and a presenter at the Academy Awards two days later), received the Gem Award for jewelry style.

“I pride myself on using all sorts of art to express myself, and jewelry is no different,” Erivo said in accepting the award. “What I get from every piece I own is a time capsule, a moment crystalized.”

Tiffany & Co. received a special recognition award for turning its New York City flagship into the Landmark, which opened last year. Christopher Kilaniotis, president and CEO of Tiffany North America, spoke on behalf of the jeweler, and invited all attendees to visit the revamped store. “We’ll be happy to have you,” he said.

Susan Jacques, president and CEO of GIA, received the Gem for lifetime achievement.

Introducing Jacques, former GIA staff member Anna Martin said, “No one could represent GIA better than Susan. She has made a positive impact on the diamond and jewelry industry without compromising her ideals or independence.”

Jacques, who started as a sales associate at Borsheims in Omaha, called her journey in the jewelry business “an emotional and inspiring one,” which she’s been “truly blessed” to experience.

Tanya Dukes, a longtime jewelry writer, received the Gem for media excellence; Marla Aaron won for jewelry design; and Ben Bridge Jeweler took home the Gem for retail excellence, with president and CEO Lisa Bridge accepting the honor on behalf of the chain.

On March 9, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) held its annual luncheon at the New York Yacht Club, where longtime president John Kennedy received a standing ovation in what will likely be his last year presiding over the event.

JSA gave its 19th annual Industry Service Award to Peter Montalbano, one of the world’s leading jewelry claims adjustors. In addition, JSA presented its 25th annual James B. White Law Enforcement Awards to five members of the Nassau County (N.Y.) Police Department: Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Raymond, commanding officer of the burglary pattern squad, and Jesus Bonilla, Edward J. Hoctor, Jeffrey Rios, and Daniel Suarez, all detectives in the major cases bureau.

Finally, on Saturday night, the 24 Karat Club held its annual gala at Cipriani South Street, which included entertainment by singers Christopher Macchio and Christina Maxwell as well as comedian Sarge.

Top: Actress Cynthia Erivo at the Gem Awards (photo: Rupert Ramsey/

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By: Rob Bates

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