Hedda Schupak, who worked at JCK for 23 years and served as its editor-in-chief for nine, died of cancer on Oct. 3. She was 62.
To people inside the magazine and out, Schupak was known for her warmth, kindness, intelligence, and humor—as well as her intense likes (cats, Tastykakes) and dislikes (cilantro). As JCK editor, she showed fierce loyalty to her staff, who reciprocated with intense loyalty to her. She was particularly proud that when the publication moved from Pennsylvania to New York City, all the staff that she could keep stayed with her.
“Hedda Schupak was a legendary figure in the jewelry trade,” says the magazine’s current editor-in-chief, Victoria Gomelsky. “She made her mark on the magazine with her incisive editorials, globe-trotting research, and sixth sense for fashion and design trends. When I joined the publication in 2010, I’d known Hedda for the better part of a decade—and had a very clear sense of just how big the shoes I needed to fill were. The industry is a lonelier place without her.”
Schupak started at JCK in 1986. Her first job was in the magazine’s production department. “I felt if I was going to work my way up the editorial chain, I would need to know both sides of the editorial process,” she said last year.
“I’ve always been interested in fashion,” she recalled. “I started as a fashion design major in college, but I couldn’t draw, so that put the kibosh on that. At Drexel, my professor said, ‘Your drawing’s terrible, but your writing is good.’ So I went to Albright College and got an English degree.”
In an interview commemorating JCK’s 150th anniversary in 2019, Schupak said JCK was like a “second family” to her. “Under the leadership of George and Debbie Holmes, the editor and managing editor who hired me, we had a close-knit group that worked well together and supported one another’s efforts,” she said.
After moving to the fashion beat, Schupak helped establish two JCK spin-off publications, Luxury and Trendz. She was one of a handful of editors who kept the magazine going following the 1997 staff walkout to form a rival publication.
“The energy was incredible,” she said in the 2019 interview. “We worked very late every night, but we had so much freedom to re-create and reenvision JCK.”
In 2000, Schupak was named editor-in-chief. “With its storied history, JCK magazine at the time was like a living, breathing entity, and as chief editor I had been entrusted with the stewardship of it,” she said.
Schupak was named Trade Press Editor of the Year by the Jewelry Information Center in 2004, and one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business by the state’s department of commerce in 2003. She was inducted into the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 2007, she wrote that jewelry is “a business that gets not only under your skin but also into your blood. It’s a strange phenomenon, hard for people outside the business to understand (even when they’re married to people in it).
“There’s this peculiar thing that jewelry people share. Call it passion, call it craziness, call it an addiction to this business, but it’s just who we are. We go on vacation and spend half our time in jewelry stores chatting with the owners, and we think that’s perfectly normal behavior. (This is usually when the non-jewelry person suggests either the moon—or separate vacations—for next year.) No matter where on earth we go, we either have industry friends whom we’re visiting, we’re making new friends we’ll go back to visit later, or the reason we’re there in the first place is that industry pals recommended it.
“Yes, we are a different breed, and we’re proud of it.”
After she left JCK in 2009, she became editor of The Centurion newsletter in 2010. When she “semi-retired” in 2022, she said she’d treasured her time in the industry and the long list of friends she made in it.
“I have just been fortunate to have had such a great career in such a great industry,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to travel around the world and to meet people from so many places. I just feel very blessed.”
Schupak was a member of the 24 Karat Club of the City of New York and one of the initial board members of Diamonds Do Good.
She is survived by her husband, Jim Baum, and a half sister, Susan. At press time, there was no word on services.
JCK will have more on Schupak’s legacy in the coming days.
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