As the first awards event for the Black in Jewelry Coalition, Rock the Jewels celebrated diversity, excellence, and inclusivity in the industry and was a time to express the joy that comes with those achievements.
And by “joy,” we mean dancing. Lots of dancing. There also were all kinds of fantastic formalwear and extraordinary jewelry befitting the sold-out event. Rock the Jewels attendees showed up and showed off in the finest form possible.
BIJC held its inaugural awards ceremony Nov. 16 in conjunction with NYC Jewelry Week, at the Elsie Rooftop in midtown. It was an occasion to honor the 50th anniversary of hip-hop as well as the Rock the Jewels winners.
“As we reflect on the last three years of BIJC’s existence, we can’t help but marvel at the milestones we’ve achieved together,” the group’s president, Annie Doresca, said in a statement. “The 50th anniversary of hip-hop served as the perfect backdrop to celebrate the cultural phenomenon but also to honor BIJC’s unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the jewelry industry. That is precisely what the award winners reflect, and we are so proud of the impact each of them has made.”
Selected for their impact in bringing BIJCs mission to life, this year’s winners of Rock the Jewels are:
Jeffery Bolling: District manager of Signet Jewelers, Bolling received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his excellence and innovation over the past 30 years in a trailblazing career that spans retail sales, jewelry design, and entrepreneurship. Bolling, who served in the U.S. Army, owns the Jeffery B. Jewelers store in Denver. He has fostered inclusivity and paved the way for generations of professionals, and his legacy continues to inspire and uplift, setting a standard for excellence in the industry.
Grace Barretti: Senior marketing manager at Greenwich St. Jewelers, Barretti was given the Behind the Shine Award for her creativity and tenacity in supporting BIJC behind the scenes. She is a two-year participant in BIJC’s Together by Design competition and a key member of the BIJC communications team since March 2022.
JCK: The company received a Shining Together Award for its transformative inclusivity initiatives and support of BIJC, including providing access and opportunities to Black jewelry and gem professionals at the annual JCK Las Vegas show.
Kecia Caffie: For an individual, the Shining Together Award was bestowed on Caffie, president of Zales, for her outstanding commitment to BIJC and its goals. Caffie played a pivotal role in creating designer competitions for Signet brands Banter and Zales and initiatives such as the Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth pendants. Her participation in the IDEA panel on diversity further underscored her dedication to making a positive impact in the industry.
Simone I. Smith: The Rock the Jewels Award went to Smith, a jewelry designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and cancer survivor. She was recognized for her contributions to the jewelry industry, resilience, charitable endeavors, and unwavering support of the Black community.
Jessenia Landrum: With the Rising Star Award, Landrum was acknowledged as an up-and-coming designer making waves in the industry, with her brand Jevela. Landrum’s journey is marked by exploration and discovery, her designs reflecting her experiences, including a three-month backpacking journey through southeast Asia. Landrum is in the Natural Diamond Council’s 2023 Emerging Designers Diamonds Initiative.
At the Rock the Jewels gala, NYC Jewelry Week presented its Here We Are Awards: Angely Martinez received the Exhibition Award; Ariana Embirikos, founder of Embirikos, won for Emerging Entrepreneur NYC; and Tiffany Vanderhoop, founder of Huckleberry Woman, was honored as Emerging Entrepreneur USA.
Top: Simone I. Smith was one of the honorees at the BIJC Rock the Jewels event Nov. 16 in New York. (Photo courtesy of Simone I. Smith)@jckmagazine
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