Celia Robbins died recently. One of the first women gemologists, she completed a course in gemology at Columbia College, where she was the only woman in her class. She made her first trip to the Orient in 1935, and was the first Caucasian woman to explore the interior of China. Robbins was searching for jade, precious stones, and other goods to export to the United States. She designed and created a line of costume jewelry, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and related jewelry items for the wholesale trade.
Her activities in China during the Sino-Japanese War are detailed in her memoirs, due to be published this fall. In World War II, she carried confidential messages from Chinese officials to U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stinson.
Back in America, Robbins purchased a factory in Attleboro, Mass., and began designing and producing items of silver, tableware, silverware, and related products. She was noted for her lifelong dedication to the trade and to her associates as well as for her good will and generosity toward friends and family.
Robbins’ husband of 65 years died in March 1998. She is survived by her sister, Gussie Fader.
Gayla Ann Brooks Fennell, inventory coordinator for the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology (TIJT), died Feb. 17, 2002. The daughter of Robert and Norma Jean Pryor Brooks and a native of Clarksville, Texas, she graduated summa cum laude from Paris Junior College and had worked for 23 years at TIJT, a division of Paris Junior College. Fennell is survived by her husband, Charles Fennell; her mother; a sister, Pam Higginbotham; and a brother, Lance Brooks.
Joseph Hartstein, founder of Jewels By Joseph in Newport Beach, Calif., died April 11, 2002 after breaking his neck in a fall two weeks earlier. At the time of his death, Hartstein was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Hartstein served as president of the Jewelers 24 Karat Club of Southern California in 1982-1983. He is survived by his son, James T. Hartstein, who currently serves as president of the 24 Karat Club, and daughters Barbara Radus and Joan Blumenthal. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in Hartstein’s name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Monroe Krasilovsky, founder of the Empire Safe Co. Inc., New York, died Feb. 23, 2002, at the age of 84. The Krasilovsky family has been in the safe business in New York City since 1904, and Krasilovsky entered the business before World War II. In 1961, he was responsible for developing and introducing high-security safes (which he had manufactured in Israel) to the jewelry industry, and he was instrumental in making his company a leading supplier of such safes to the industry.
Krasilovsky is survived by his wife, Harriet; daughter, Lois; and son, Richard, who is president of Empire Safe Co.