Winners of the 2015 WJA Awards for Excellence

The WJA kept attendees in suspense until the winning names were announced last night at its annual Awards for Excellence gala.

The 2015 gala took place on July 27 at Chelsea Piers in New York City, and more than 700 guests attended—the group’s highest number to date. While networking, dancing, a photo booth sponsored by Rio Tinto’s Diamonds With a Story campaign, and a raffle boosted spirits further and raised money for the organization’s scholarships and grants program, the big draw of the night was (of course) learning about the award and grant winners such as Lisa Kim of Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry, who took home the WJA/Carelle Grant in the memory of Brooke Tivol McGrath.

The WJA also honored J.C. Penney’s Pam Mortensen with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and C. Clayton Bromberg of Underwood Jewelers took home the Ben Kaiser Award, which is given to a man who has helped women advance in their jewelry careers. Additionally, Gumuchian received the Corporate Award.

Beloved Myriam Gumuchian spoke on behalf of her mother, Anita, and sister, Patricia, who were at the podium together. Anita started Gumuchian in the 1970s “at a time when women did not work, and did not let mores and expectations dictate what she could do,” said Myriam. Now their daughters are learning “that women can, in fact, have it all.”

Bromberg dished on how “Ladies get the job done,” referring to such powerhouses as Anna Martin, Georgie Gleim, Yancy Weinrich, Beryl Raff, Sybil Yurman, Susan Jacques, and Cecelia Gardner. “Your success is what led my company and many other companies to make investments in our people,” he said.

And Pam Mortensen, meanwhile, reminded all of the most precious part of industry careers: our people. “It’s not where you end up in your career but it’s the relationships and friendships that you make along the way that make the journey so special,” she explained.

A complete list of winners and some takeaways their sentiments expressed are below.

 

Category I: Design

Winner: Pamela Froman, Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry

Takeaway: “We get to take our dreams and turn them into things people cherish.” 

Other nominees included Emily Armenta of Armenta, Suzanne Kalandjian of Suzanne Kalan, and Monica Rich Kosann of Monica Rich Kosann.

 

Category II: Manufacturer/Dealer/Supplier

Winner: Laurie Watt of Mayer & Watt

Other nominees included Karishma Javeri of SDC Designs, Sylvie Levine of Sylvie Collection, and Zina Sherman of Zina Sterling.

 

Category IIIa: Retail, 15 doors or more

Winner: Eve Rogers of Graff

Other nominee was Lisa Bridge of Ben Bridge Jewelers.

 

Category IIIb: Retail, fewer than 15 doors

Winner: Veronica Guarino of Louis Anthony Jewelers

Takeaway: “When Lou and I started Louis Anthony, I didn’t know how brave we were. I did not choose this business. It chose me.” 

Other nominees included Ellen Hertz of Max’s, Tara Silberberg of the Clay Pot, and Melissa Quick of Steve Quick Jeweler.

 

Category IIIc: Nontraditional Retail

Winner: Deborah Nicodemus of Moda Operandi

Other nominees included Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky of BaubleBar, Beth Gerstein of Brilliant Earth, Alexis Clarbour of Portero, and Ruth Thuston of Circa.

 

Category IV: Sales

Winner: Amy Levine of Gurhan

Other nominees included Tina Bruno of Stephen Webster and Jennifer Shanker of Muse Showroom.

 

Category V: Marketing & Communications

Winner: Rebecca Moskal of Communiqué

Takeaway: “I’ve been supported, inspired, and challenged by a network of women who I admire.” 

Other nominees included Kirsten Darrow of Fred Meyer, Donna Jolly of the American Gem Society, and Colby Shergalis of Forevermark.

 

Category VI: Editorial Media

Winner: Monica Stephenson of iDazzle.com

Takeaway: “I think it’s safe to say that jewelry blogging has arrived. I’m proud to be part of a new conversation in jewelry, and many of you in this room are now friends because of this organization.” 

Other nominees included Sarah Lisitski-Gerrish of Redbook magazine, Eileen McClelland of InStore magazine, and Danielle Miele of GemGossip.com.

 

Category VII – Special Services

Winner: Becka Johnson Kibby, the Edge Retail Academy

Other nominees included Donna Borrelli of JCK, Cindy Chandler of the Smart Jewelry Show, and Heather Smith Nunez of Cartier.

 

Category VIII: Watches

Winner: Jeanine Drtina, Cartier

Other nominees included Audrey Bogdonoff of Gucci, Agnes Campanile of Swatch Group/Omega, and Michelle Peranteau of Baume & Mercier.

(Additional reporting by Victoria Gomelsky)