The Gemological Institute of America marked the 10th anniversary of its League of Honor at its annual gala on Sept. 19 by inducting 16 jewelry industry dignitaries, including the chairman of Zale Corp. and the publisher of Jewelers’ Circular Keystone.
GIA president Bill Boyajian, the evening’s host, also announced that the non-profit organization is “nearing our $75 million goal” for GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Endowment Fund for Education and Research. The endowment fund is designed to be a permanent source of income for GIA’s worldwide non-profit programs and services, including education, research, its gemological library and museum. All proceeds of the LoH dinner benefit it.
The annual fundraising LoH dinner recognizes donors of at least $100,000 to GIA’s non-profit worldwide educational and research activities.
This year’s LoH event was the best attended yet, with some 750 leaders of the gem and jewelry industries and their guests, representing “strength and heart of the trade,” said Boyajian. This was also the first year it was held at New York City’s world-famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It had been held, since it started, at the Plaza Hotel until last year, when attendance outgrew the space there.
Since 1995, GIA has inducted 82 people into its League of Honor and 13 into its Million Dollar Roundtable (those giving $1 million or more to GIA). “We never imagined our donor recognition program would evolve into a Who’s Who” of the gem and jewelry industries, said Boyajian. Their support of GIA has been “important to the health and future success of the industry,” he noted.
The 2005 League of Honor inductees are Joseph Mardkha and David Mardkha, ColorMasters Precious Jewelry; Avi Nathanel, Fancy Collection; Alexander Hasenfeld, Hasenfeld-Stein, Inc.; Anthony Hirsh, Hirsh London; Mark Smelzer, Jewelers’ Circular Keystone magazine; Ofer Azrielant, Jewelry.com, a division of Andin International, Inc.; Rashmi Shah and Nitin Shah, K. Girdharlal / ASPECO N.V.; Mitsuhiro Mitsui, Mikimoto (America) Co., Ltd.; Stephen H. Silver, S.H. Silver Company, Inc.; Kirtilal Doshi and Shreyas Doshi, Shrenuj & Company Limited; Rajesh V. Mehta, Supergems; Saul Goldberg, The William Goldberg Family; Philippe Zivan Süssholz, Yahalomei Espeka International Ltd.; and Mary L. Forté, Zale Corp.
Pankaj K. Mehta and Kaushik K. Mehta, of Dimexon-Eurostar, and Beny Steinmetz, of The Steinmetz Group were added to GIA’s Million Dollar Roundtable.
Several were recognized for sizeabe contributions to GIA’s work in India. Pankaj K. Mehta and Kaushik K. Mehta, of Dimexon-Eurostar, for example, pledged their support to the new GIA facility in India to help grow that country’s diamond industry.
Other highlights of the gala included:
* A booklet given to all attendees detailing GIA’s new diamond cut grading system, which goes into effect in January 2006.
* Boyajian’s reminder to the black-tie audience of GIA’s fourth International Symposium in 2006, marking its 75th anniversary, in San Diego, Cal. (Aug. 27-29). Some 1,500 attendees from around the globe expected.
* A specially-made video which recapped the League of Honor’s 10 years
Edward Asscher, general managing director of the Royal Asscher Diamond Company Ltd., and Stanislas de Quercize, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels International, co-chaired the evening’ gala.