With Kristin Chenoweth and a Birthday Cake, Industry Celebrates 24 Karat Weekend

The year kicks off with a movie, the 24 Karat Club’s good-bye to the Waldorf, and a reminder to stay special

From Jan. 12 through Jan. 14, the industry celebrated 24 Karat Weekend, its traditional kickoff to the new year, which this year featured a fireworks-topped birthday cake and a performance by Kristin Chenoweth.

The weekend started Thursday night with twin events: Forevermark held its New Year cocktail reception at the Ascent Lounge in New York City; and the Diamond Empowerment Fund sponsored a screening of the film A United Kingdom—which tells the love story of Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama—at the Roxy Hotel Cinema in New York City.

Friday’s Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria New York marked two milestones—the organization’s 100-year anniversary, and the imminent departure of president and CEO Cecilia Gardner.

The centennial was marked with an elaborate birthday cake covered with sparklers (pictured), as well as a newly commissioned history of the JVC written by longtime industry scribe Peggy Jo Donahue. Gardner’s 19-year tenure at the JVC was hailed by a series of speakers, including Doug Hucker of American Gem Trade Association, GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques, and former JVC chairman Steven Kaiser, who credited her with reviving a once-moribund organization.

“There will be another head of the JVC,” Hucker said, “but they will never replace Cecilia.”

Former JVC recording secretary Joel Schechter was honored with the organization’s Stanley Schechter Award, bestowed on industry members that promote integrity. The presentation was especially poignant as the award was named for Schechter’s late father.

Friday night saw Jewelers of America hold its annual Gem Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City, emceed by Stephen Webster. Lucia Silvestri, jewelry creative director of Bulgari, was honored for jewelry design; Kay Jewelers took home the award for marketing and communications; Grace Fuller, jewelry editor of W magazine, was cited for media excellence; and Patek Philippe won the award for watch excellence.

Jim Rosenheim, chairman of Washington D.C.–based Tiny Jewel Box, was given the Gem Award for Lifetime Achievement. In his acceptance speech, Rosenheim said he was inspired by his father’s motto, “If it’s not special, it’s not here.”

The event also included appearances by actor Cuba Gooding Jr., models Kim Alexis and Jessica Hart, Desi Lydic of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, former Bachelor contestant Olivia Caridi, and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan.

On Saturday, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance held its annual luncheon at the Harmonie Club in New York City. The group honored New York City Police Department detectives Armando Coutinho, Anthony Curtin, Anthony Diaz, Michael Dorto, and Rigel Zeledon with its James B. White Law Enforcement Award for their involvement in several prominent jewelry cases. The JSA’s Industry Service Award was given to Bill Lane, divisional vice president, loss prevention and internal audit, for Birks Group.

On Saturday night, the 24 Karat Club of the City of New York hosted Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth.

Chenoweth performed a characteristically eclectic selection of songs, including numbers from her new album, The Art of Elegance (“Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” and her encore, “Smile,” performed, miraculously, without a microphone); the bluesy “Little Sparrow,” made famous by one of Chenoweth’s idols, Dolly Parton; and, from Wicked, Chenoweth’s biggest Broadway hit, “Popular,” which the singer lovingly dedicated to the 24 Karat Club’s Ronnie Vanderlinden (“Popular! I’ll help you be popular!… I’ll show you what shoes to wear! How to fix your hair!”).

This will be the event’s final year at the Waldorf Astoria for at least three years, while the famed hotel undergoes renovations. A new locale has not yet been chosen.

Melissa Rose Bernardo contributed to this report.

(Photo courtesy of Jewelers Vigilance Committee)

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