MONTBLANC NAMES 36-YEAR-OLD AS CEO
Karsten Martens, 36, has been named president and CEO of Montblanc North America, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hamburg, Germany-based fine writing instrument manufacturer. Martens, who becomes Montblanc’s youngest CEO, has been with the company since 1996. Based in the company’s central offices, he was responsible for marketing and sales for Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and the duty-free market.
Martens, a Hamburg native who holds a master’s degree in business economics from Hamburg University, was a marketing manager for Cadbury Beverages’ European franchises before joining Montblanc and has won awards for advertising and promotion in London, Greece, and Turkey.
As CEO, he replaces Fred Reffsin, now the chief executive officer at Camdens, a San Francisco-based upscale business and executive gift service that is launching an e-commerce site. Reffsin, who was president of Tag Heuer prior to joining Montblanc, developed a corporate gift business at the luxury writing instrument company.
JEWELERS MUTUAL ELECTS DIRECTORS
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., Neenah, Wis., recently held elections to its board of directors at its annual meeting.
R. William Barker, owner of Barker & Co., a wholesale colored stone business in Scottsdale, Ariz., was elected to a two-year term on the board.
In addition, three current directors were re-elected: Robert Bridge of Ben Bridge Jewelers in Seattle; Charles Lasker, owner of Lasker Jewelers in Eau Claire, Wis.; and Jewelers Mutual president Ronald Harder.
LITTLE SWITZERLAND APPOINTS CEO
Robert L. Baumgardner, 52, has been named president and CEO of Little Switzerland Inc., a specialty retailer with 22 stores on eight Caribbean islands and two stores in Alaska cruise ship destinations.
Baumgardner previously was senior vice president of Zale Corp.’s Bailey, Banks & Biddle division in Dallas, where he oversaw retail operations generating more than $245 million in revenue. Prior to joining Zale, he held senior management posts with Mayors of Coral Gables, Fla., and Tiffany & Co. of New York. He began his retail career in 1971 at Bailey, Banks & Biddle.
Baumgardner has also been appointed as a Class I director at Little Switzerland, increasing the board to six members. Kenneth Watson, who had served as acting president and CEO since April, will remain a director of the company.
AMERICAN ORT HONORS ROGERS & HOLLANDS V.P.
Dominick Soresso, vice president of merchandising for Rogers and Hollands Jewelers, Park Forest, Ill., received the American ORT Jewelry Industry Chapter’s Community Achievement Award at a dinner in his honor Sept. 16 in New York. The tribute honored Soresso’s contributions to the jewelry industry and his support of ORT, which raises funds to provide technical and technological training for students in 60 countries.
Soresso has been in his current position at Rogers and Hollands since 1996. He directs a staff of buyers and a merchandising team. He has been in the jewelry industry for 22 years on the wholesale as well as the retail side.
HAWAII JEWELER MARKS JA MILESTONE
Donna E. Shimazu of Maui Divers of Hawaii Ltd. and Donna E. Shimazu Designs in Honolulu has become the first female bench jeweler to achieve the designation of JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler. The certification is the highest and most difficult level of the Jewelers of America Bench Jeweler Certification Program.
Shimazu, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and an MBA from Northwestern University, has been working for 12 years as a goldsmith, jewelry designer, and modelmaker. She has also taken advanced technique courses at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco and is participating in the Gemological Institute of America’s home-study program.
Piaget, a division of VLG North America Inc., has made two appointments. Philippe Bonay has been named vice president of marketing. He will be responsible for developing and executing marketing strategies for the Piaget and Panerai brands in North America and the Caribbean. Previously, he was marketing director of Piaget and Baume & Mercier in Hong Kong. Also at Piaget, Ruth Sandoval has been appointed account executive for the southern United States and the Caribbean for the Piaget and Panerai brands. She had been at Cartier since 1993.
Steven Zale has been named president and chief operating officer of sales and marketing at KRS Crown Corp., Los Angeles. He joins the company from the Infinity Collection, where he had been general sales and marketing manager. He also has 15 years’ retail jewelry experience.
Caroline de Saint André is the new in-house public relations director at ViewPoint Showrooms, New York. She will direct public relations for the John Hardy Collection, Alfex of Switzerland, and Robert Lee Morris Watches. Prior to her appointment, she had been with Robert Lee Morris.
The Mason Box Co. has promoted two employees to executive positions. Roger D. Stebenne, formerly the director of operations, is now vice president of operations. Former controller Michael J. Gruslin is now vice president of finance and administration. Stebenne joined Mason Box in 1996. Gruslin had been the company’s controller since 1995.
Scot French has joined Boma Jewelry, Renton, Wash., as marketing director. French has worked at national advertising agencies, including Wieden & Kennedy and Hal Riney & Partners. At Boma, he will focus on increasing consumer brand awareness. He will also oversee the company’s sales coordinator and customer service department.
Rodney Gerritt Patterson is the new director of global merchandising and display at the Movado Group Inc., New York. He will oversee packaging, merchandising, and display for the company’s five brands: Movado, Concord, ESQ, Coach, and Corum. Previously, he was visual director at A/X Armani Exchange.
Jeweler Carl G. Woelfel, 79, of Tempe, Ariz., died July 22. He was born in Mitchell, S.D.
Lewis Reichert Pummer Jr., 52, of Smyrna, Tenn., died July 10. He was a jeweler for Jewelers of Nashville.
Mark Dean Hanna, 42, of New Orleans, a retired manager for Zales Jewelers, died July 8.
Ruth H. Martin of Homewood, Ala., died July 10. She was a retired employee of Jobe-Rose Jewelry Co.
Patricia Cooke Fouts of Chattanooga, Tenn., died July 11. She worked at Fisher-Evans Jewelry Co.
James A. Wesche, 61, of Melbourne, Fla., died July 6. He was the owner of Wesche Jewelers in West Melbourne, Fla. He was the former general manager of Underwood Jewelers. He was a past president of the Florida Jewelers Association.
GREG FISHER, GEM DEALER
Longtime colored gem dealer Greg Fisher, 46, owner of Gemsources in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Martha Simmons, died April 18 of a sudden heart attack.
He started his wholesale firm in 1979 and was a longtime presence at the Tucson gem shows, where he exhibited from 1980 until 1994. The company also exhibited at the Dallas Market Center Fine Jewelry Show, the September Denver Show, and numerous other gem and mineral groups’ shows.
An active member of the central Texas jewelry community, he twice served as president of the Austin Gem & Mineral Society and participated in the Friday Morning Jewelers’ Breakfast Club. Most recently, he had volunteered as publicity chairman for the Lone Star Chapter of the Gemological Institute of America Alumni, which held its first meeting in March.
His wife will continue to operate Gemsources. A memorial scholarship has been set up in his name for use toward a gemology degree at schools in Texas. Donations can be sent to the Greg Fisher Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Curt Sutherland, 4714 S. Congress, Austin, TX 78745.
PAUL FLATO, JEWELER TO STARS
Paul Flato, 98, an American jeweler whose diamond creations were worn by Hollywood stars and socialites, died July 18 in a nursing home in Fort Worth, Texas.
His work was worn by Merle Oberon in That Uncertain Feeling, Rita Hayworth in Blood and Sand, and Greta Garbo in Two-Faced Woman.
He started out as a New York watch salesman in the early 1920s. He opened his own jewelry business in Manhattan and soon became renowned for his imaginative creations. Four designers worked for him.
About 2,000 drawings from the height of his career in the late 1930s and early 1940s sold at a Christie’s auction in 1994 for nearly $200,000.
However, in 1945 he pleaded guilty to obtaining jewels on consignment from fellow jewelers and fraudulently pawning them. He served 16 months in a federal prison. After his release, he went to Mexico, where he spent many of his later years.
JULES MADERE JR., ELVIS’S JEWELER
Jules Madere Jr., 70, a Baton Rouge, La., jeweler whose clients included Elvis Presley, died of cancer Aug. 18.
Madere, who began his career at age 13 sweeping the floor at a New Orleans jewelry store, later married the owner’s daughter. In 1948, he opened a store in Baton Rouge.
Madere designed several pieces for Presley, including pendants with the initials “TCB,” which stood for “Taking Care of Business.” Among his other clients were Frank Sinatra and Dizzy Dean.