WJA to honor Bergman, Boyajian

The Women’s Jewelry Association Board of Directors will honor Phyllis Bergman, president of Mercury Ring and a past WJA president, with the WJA Hall of Fame Award; and William E. Boyajian, president of the Gemological Institute of America, with the Ben Kaiser Award, an award given to men in the industry who have demonstrated a deep commitment to the advancement of women.

The awards will be presented at WJA’s 22nd Annual Awards for Excellence dinner, at Pier Sixty in New York City on Sunday, July 31.

“This is the first time that the Ben Kaiser Award has been given in the same year as the Hall of Fame Award,” said Anna Martin, WJA’s president. “Both these deserving individuals have given so generously of their time to our industry and have been great advocates for women.”

Phyllis Bergman became president of Mercury Ring Corp. in 1986. She oversees all aspects of the company, including sales, design, operations, marketing, and client relations. As a result of her leadership, Bergman has increased the company’s customer base more than six-fold. Today, Mercury is one of the oldest and most established bridal jewelry manufacturers in the United States.

In addition, Bergman is a highly visible, dynamic force in the jewelry industry. She is the immediate past president of WJA. She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Plumb Club, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, American ORT Federation, and the Central Park Conservancy. Bergman is the second woman to have been granted membership to the 24Karat Club of the City of New York, and in 2003 she became its first woman president.

Bergman is on the Executive Committee of the Women’s Presidents Organization, and is a lifetime member of Brandeis University as well as other prominent organizations. A mother of three, she credits her husband, Ira, and her children, who hold various positions within the company, for the growing success of Mercury. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, ballroom dancing and theater.

Bergman served as president of WJA from 1998 to 2001 and continues to be an active board member. “As president, Phyllis brought her impressive business and organizational skills and energy to WJA,” said Martin. “We are thrilled to honor her leadership and distinguished career with the prestigious Hall of Fame Award.”

Bill Boyajian became interested in the jewelry business while in college and working for Belkeith Jewelry Company in his native Fresno, Calif. Three weeks after receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics, he began gemology classes at GIA and never left. President Richard T. Liddicoat hired him in August 1975 as a staff gemologist and then instructor, and later promoted him into management. Over the next decade, Boyajian amassed an outstanding record of service in GIA Education, and as the head of Marketing and New Project Development. In 1986, at the age of only 34, he was named president of GIA. 2005 marks his 30th year at the Institute.

During Boyajian’s tenure as GIA president, the Institute has grown in size and stature around the globe. GIA is educator to the world’s gem and jewelry professionals, with campuses in 10 countries on three continents. It is the leading diamond grading and gem identification laboratory in the world, is the most prominent research organization and gem instruments supplier in the jewelry industry, and houses the world’s largest repository of gemological and jewelry-related information in its renowned library.

Boyajian is a member of many industry organizations and is the recipient of numerous awards for his efforts. He celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with Joyce in 2004, and they have two children, Rebecca (21) and David (18). In addition to church and civic activities, Boyajian enjoys golf, writing, gardening, and bridge.

“Bill Boyajian exemplifies the visionary spirit of the Ben Kaiser Award,” said Anna Martin. “He has been a strong advocate for the advancement of women at GIA and a longtime supporter of WJA’s goals.”

The Ben Kaiser Award was named after the chairman of Baume & Mercier, who received the first award in 1996.

The WJA 22nd Annual Awards for Excellence dinner will be held during the JA New York Summer Show. The dinner is one of the most well attended and highly anticipated events in the jewelry industry each year.

WJA’s Awards for Excellence, established in 1984, recognize outstanding women professionals in seven different categories: design; manufacturer/dealer/supplier for fine jewelry; manufacturer/dealer/supplier for watches; retail; sales and marketing; editorial/reporting/publishing; and special services. These awards, voted on by the WJA membership, will be announced at the July 31 event.