AGS celebrates industry leaders

The American Gem Society presented its annual awards during ceremonies July 27 at the Rainbow Room in New York.

Despite thick clouds and rain obscuring the room’s famous view, the atmosphere was festive as AGS executive director Ruth Batson welcomed more than 500 attendees.

Matthew Runci, president and CEO of Jewelers of America, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his 25 years of service to the jewelry industry.

“I’m not sure if I’m happy about this,” he joked. “Usually a ‘lifetime achievement’ sounds like something you get at the end of your career—and I’m definitely not there yet!” he said in his profuse thanks to the AGS members. Prior to taking the helm of JA, Runci was the executive director of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America (MJSA), now called Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America.

AGS presented a Triple Zero award to Mark and Candy Udell, owners of London Jewelers, a six-store operation that is widely credited for being a leader in creative retailing. It was one of the earliest stores to embrace the concept of designer boutiques and was recently selected one of the few independent jewelers to open a branded standalone Cartier boutique, David Yurman boutique, and Van Cleef & Arpels boutique.

Also honored with a Triple Zero award was George Holmes, retired editor-in-chief of JCK, who headed the magazine for a total of 24 years. Holmes described the early days of his time at JCK, when a long-distance phone call was considered a great expense and an eight-dollar train ticket to New York required special permission—but money was always reserved to attend AGS Conclave. It’s the AGS jeweler, said Holmes, who is the archetypal JCK reader.

The organization’s Richard T. Liddicoat Journalism awards were also presented.

Melissa Gagliardi of the Gannett News Service won in the national consumer reporting category for her article, “Take a Strand: Classic Pearls Add Luster to Casual and Dressy Looks.” Ruben Rosario of the St. Paul Pioneer Press won in the local consumer reporting category for his article, “Romantic Leads.”

In the trade media reporting category, authors John L. Emmett, Kenneth Scarratt, Shane F. McClure, Thomas Moses, Troy R. Douthit, Richard Hughes, Steven Novak, James Shigley, Wuyi Wang, Owen Bordelon and Robert E. Kane won for their Gems & Gemology article, “Beryllium Diffusion of Ruby and Sapphire.”

Honorable mentions in the trade media reporting category went to Rob Bates of JCK for “Making the Grade,” which focused on developments in grading systems to evaluate diamond cut. and Victoria Gomelsky of National Jeweler for, “Trade Worries Over Mounting Skepticism Among Consumers.”

JCK Senior Copy Editor Eileen Kerrigan was a finalist in the competition in the national consumer publications category. Her article, “Royal Rubies,” appeared in the winter edition of FACETS.