WJA Awards for Excellence honors distinguish women in the industry

The Women’s Jewelry Association recently held its 21st Annual Awards for Excellence at Pier 60, Chelsea Piers. More than 600 WJA members and guests were in attendance to recognize accomplished women in the industry. The nominees and awardees are chosen by the national membership. The gala event raises funds for WJA’s scholarship program.

Anna Martin, WJA president, presented the organization’s Hall of Fame Award to Mary Forté, President and CEO of Zale Cor. “As head of largest specialty jeweler in North America, Mary Forté personifies WJA’s vision to empower women to achieve their highest goals in the jewelry and watch industry, said Martin,” Martin said. Forté sets the strategic direction of the company and oversees all aspects of its day-to-day operations, which includes Zales Jewelers, Gordon’s Jewelers, Bailey Banks & Biddle Fine Jewelers, Zales Fine Jewelry Outlet, and Piercing Pagoda brands in the U.S., and Peoples and Mappins in Canada. Forté also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Retail Federation, Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Jewelers of America, Zale Lipshy Hospital, Jewelers for Children, and Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas.

In addition to the Hall of Fame Award, WJA presented Awards for Excellence in seven industry categories:

Design: Cathy Carmendy, jewelry designer, Cathy Carmendy, Santa Monica, CA.
Cathy Carmendy has gone from winning a spot in the coveted Rising Star pavilion at the JCK Show a decade ago to being one of the most sought after designers by leading magazines, fashion designers and Hollywood celebrities. Carmendy’s exquisite antique-inspired designs are modern renditions made expressly for the 21st century woman.

Manufacturer/Dealer Supplier For Fine Jewelry and Watches: Joy Toback-Galicki, Co-owner and VP Manufacturing, Myron Toback Inc., New York City.
The bond of family is one of the secrets of Toback-Galicki’s success. Following acknowledgement of the important roles of her father, Myron, and her husband, Eli, she shared that how her mother Elaine took her to her first WJA meeting 21 years ago. In keeping with tradition Toback-Galicki invited her daughter, Sarah, to join her at the podium. The first female president of the Golden Circle Club, Toback-Galicki was awarded the 2002 Contemporary Design Group Award and currently manufactures her own line of patented findings.

Retail: Sissy Jones, Sissy’s Log Cabin, Pine Bluff, Ark.
Jones’ success is an inspiration to everyone entering the industry with a dream. Once a one-woman, 900 square-foot antique store, Sissy’s Log Cabin has grown to become the state’s largest independent jewelry store with 32 employees, including Sissy’s husband, son and daughter. Jones serves as CEO of her store that now features fine jewelry, timepieces, antiques, and unique gift items.

Sales and Marketing: Terri Eagle, COO, David Yurman, New York City.
Terri Eagle began her career in sales and marketing at L’Oreal Cosmetics in 1985 and entered the luxury market in 1992 when she joined Montblanc USA as vice president of sales. Eagle joined David Yurman in 1998 as senior vice president of sales and Marketing. Today, as the company’s chief operating officer, Eagle is responsible for directing corporate strategy and leading all divisions including sales, marketing, retail, finance, operations, HR, and IT.

Editorial/Reporting: Carmen Borgonovo, Accessories Director and Editor, W magazine and W Jewelry, New York City.
With ten years of experience in the industry under her belt, Carmen Borgonovo has broken new ground with the launch of W Jewelry.

Special Services & Education: Charlotte Preston, President, Charlotte Preston Catalysts, White Bear Lake, MN
Charlotte Preston Catalysts has provided organization and planning support to the conference programs at the JCK Shows, AGTA Gem Fair, AGS Conclave, and RJO. In these venues, during the last decade, jewelers have learned primarily, from other jewelers, through programs developed by Preston, who identifies and supports industry professionals willing to teach about business and personal success. Preston is also very active in her community, including the start-up and support of a youth jazz band.

A Silent Auction featured more than 120 items, including watches, jewelry, vacations, clothing, fashion accessories, as well as consulting and advertising packages. Money from the auction support WJA’s annual Student Scholarship Program for deserving women students enrolled in fine jewelry and watch design courses in the U.S. In addition the funds provide member grants for educational purposes.