Veteran jewelry publicist and organization head Barbara Wheat (pictured) has joined Ethical Metalsmiths as its new executive director.
The position is part-time; Wheat will also continue as vice president of international relations and business development for the Ho Group of Companies, owner of Bangkok-based lab the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS). She is also a partner with Joe Menzie in Gemstone Expeditions, which conducts mine tours overseas.
She takes over from Alexandra Hart, who served as executive director from May 2020 until recently.
Wheat says the position is “ideal” for her, as it matches her two big interests, given her long history in the jewelry industry, and her 2015 master’s degree in sustainability management from Columbia University. She hopes to give the group more of an international footprint.
She notes that this is the first group she had been involved that has so many young members.
“We have a huge student population, people in universities studying metalsmithing,” he says. “This is the first organization I have worked with that has a real membership base [that is] so fresh and so ready to learn.”
Now living in Florida, Wheat was based in Bangkok for 15 years, where she started a consulting and public relations company, with the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association as her main client. She also worked with the Thai Department of Export Promotion and the Ministry of Commerce on promoting Thailand as a gem and jewelry hub.
Beginning in 2005, Wheat served as executive director of the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) for eight years. In 2012, she returned to the consulting business, opening her company, Gemalytics, where she was a consultant for Levin Sources and helped with a research project for the World Bank.
Wheat also served as executive vice president for the Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA) and as president of AIGS.
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