More Than 600 Attend GIA’s Annual Career Fair

More than 600 people attended the Gemological Institute of America’s annual career fair and open house Oct. 21 at its Carlsbad, Calif., world headquarters.

The one-day gathering—which brought together recruiters, career coaches, speakers, job seekers, and the general public—began with “Job Success in Today’s Market,” a panel presentation that kicked off with a state of the industry address by GIA president and CEO Donna Baker.

“Challenges do exist in the global economy, but the gem and jewelry industry has done well and the demand for luxury items remains strong,” said Baker in a statement. “From brick-and-mortar to Internet-based businesses, opportunities abound: They are there for the taking for trained professionals who keep up with the trends and changing dynamics of our industry and remain relevant through continuing education.”

The panel’s speakers ranged from up-and-coming executives to veteran industry professionals, including Mary Todd-McGinnis, vice president of sales for Ben Bridge Jeweler; Au-Co Mai, president and CEO of; Richard Drucker, president of Gemworld International; and Sara Beth Brown, sales associate for Breitling Boutique.

GIA president and CEO Donna Baker (far left) discusses “Job Success in Today’s Market” with panelists including (left to right): Sara Beth Brown, Au-Co Mai, Richard Drucker, and Mary Todd-McGinnis.

Attendees also gained insight from jewelry designers Erica Courtney, Alishan Halebian, and Katey Brunini during “From Design to Finish.” The panel discussion, moderated by Peggy Jo Donahue, covered everything from the use of subcontractors and manufacturers to pricing strategies and the pros and cons of CAD/CAM.

JCK publisher Mark Smelzer moderated a panel that highlighted the wide range of job opportunities in the jewelry industry. Panelists included Douglas Hucker, Amy Helein, Steven A. Mindel, and Chris George.

Twenty-eight recruiters were on site looking to fill a variety of positions in such areas as marketing, design, management, inventory control, customer service, estate jewelry buying, and retail. Leo Hamel, founder and CEO of Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, who operates one retail and seven wholesale locations throughout San Diego County, participated as a recruiter with Maggie Scheuer, chief operating officer of the company.

“This is our fourth consecutive year at Career Fair, and each time we find the ‘diamond in the rough’ that we’re looking for—which is typically a recent GIA graduate with a knowledge of stones and a passion for jewelry,” said Hamel in a statement. “We want employees who are ready to share our vision for success and eager to learn what it takes to become a valuable part of our team.”

Elizabeth Nomberg, a GIA Alumni member, meets with Alishan Halebian in a career-coaching session.

The open house portion of fair included a public tour of the GIA campus and an exhibit of museum displays. One of the exhibits included items recovered from a safety deposit box following 9/11, including a diamond brooch, two petite silver mesh clutches, and two pocket watches.

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