Nathan R. Light has been named president of N.E.W. Customer Service Companies’ Jewelry Protection Division. The Sterling, Va., firm administers extended service contracts and other buyer protection programs on behalf of retailers, manufacturers, and financial services firms. The company recently entered the jewelry market and has announced that its jewelry and watch protection program sales have exceeded the $75 million mark.

Before joining N.E.W., Light was the founder and chairman of LDC Group Inc., the former operator of the Only Diamonds retail chain. He was also the chairman and chief executive officer of Sterling Inc., the second largest U.S. jewelry retailer. Currently, he serves on the board of directors of Michael Anthony Jewelers.

N.E.W. administers extensive service for a number of national retailers, including Jan Bell Marketing, Only Diamonds, and Service Merchandise. Included in its jewelry plan is a guarantee that all repairs necessary to maintain the item in “like new” condition will be performed free of charge. The firm also offers a watch program that protects items not generally covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, such as the case, stem, crystal, clasp, bezel, crown, and bracelet or strap.


Jeffrey Taraschi has been named executive vice president, general merchandise manager at Home Shopping Network, St. Petersburg, Fla. He will be responsible for the company’s merchandising, planning, and programming activities.

Prior to his appointment, Taraschi was president and chief executive officer at L.J. International Inc., a jewelry manufacturer in Hong Kong. Previously, he had been a consultant to jewelry manufacturers and retailers worldwide. He also spent three years as senior vice president of merchandising for the jewelry division of QVC.

He will report to Mark Bozek, Home Shopping Network president.


Robert J. Simone has been appointed chief operating officer at Ross-Simons, a retailer of fine jewelry, tableware, home furnishings, and decorative accessories based in Cranston, R.I.

In his new position, Simone will oversee distribution and sales through Ross-Simons’ nine retail stores and its direct-marketing operation. He will report to company president Darrell Ross.

Simone has more than 30 years of retail experience. Most recently, he was president, chief operating officer, and director of The Big Party, a specialty chain of party goods and accessories. Previously, he was president and chief operating officer at Domain Home Fashions. He has also been cofounder, president, chief operating officer, and director of The Icing, a national upscale chain of women’s accessories stores.

He is a former captain in the United States Army and received a bronze star commendation for meritorious service during active duty in Vietnam.


Mercury Ring Corp., Englewood, N.J., has made two appointments. Anthony Luongo, appointed vice president of sales, will cover the Northeast. Harold Wolf will cover Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and the Southwest region.

Jeff Plank has assumed ownership of Eastern Smelting & Refining Corp., Lynn, Mass. Prior to acquiring the company, he was president and owner of Wesco Gases in Billerica, Mass., which tripled in size under his leadership.

Anjanette Clisura has been named director of marketing at Chimento, a designer and manufacturer of fine 18k gold and diamond Italian jewelry. She will direct the overall advertising and marketing strategy for Chimento Corp. in the United States and will be responsible for trade and consumer public relations. She has been an account executive and communications director for Di Vision Studio, a New York advertising and graphic design agency, and the advertising and marketing manager for Mayor’s Jewelers in Florida. She also was director of the Actors Studio School of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Dayle Myers is the manager of Cartier’s new Troy, Mich., boutique located at Somerset Collection South. She will be responsible for the daily operations of the boutique and for various philanthropic and arts-related activities in the community. Previously, she was an account executive in Cartier’s fragrance division.

Larry Hirsch has been appointed vice president of R&R Grosbard in New York. His background includes field sales and sales management as well as retail and diamond experience.

Chamart Exclusives Inc., an importer of Limoges boxes, has made several sales representative appointments. Debi Wise & Associates is the representative in Southern California, southern Nevada, and Arizona. Amy Weber has expanded her territory to include Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Victoria Leckie of Victoria’s Keepsakes has added Indiana and southern Illinois to her territories.

Gense America, an importer of fine Scandinavian flatware and art glass, has made several representative appointments. Lenny Weiss will represent the company in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. Bruce Benham of Bruce Benham Ltd. Inc. will be the representative for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska. Sherry Lisagor will cover Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania. Joe Mendelson of the Mandeville Group will cover California. Sal Triolo Associates will handle Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey. Nils Gregersen is the representative in northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Michael Hopper has been promoted to vice president, sales and operations at Hamilton Jewelers. Hopper began at Hamilton Jewelers in 1988 as assistant manager of the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., location. In 1990 he became manager of the Princeton, N.J., store; in 1994 he was named the company’s general manager. He will oversee operations for all four Hamilton Jewelers locations as well as Hamilton’s Corporate Sales Division and Insurance Replacement Division.

The Colibri Group, Providence, R.I., has made several appointments. Robert Cox is the new vice president of the Ladies’ Jewelry Division. Lauren Grossman is the new national accounts manager. Gwen House is product manager for Shiman and Krementz. Donna Kessler has been named director of marketing for Colibri Pocket Watches and Executive Gifts. Gary Friedman has joined as product manager for Colibri Lighters and Accessories. Laurie Bishop has assumed a new position as product manager for Dolan & Bullock and Colibri Men’s Jewelry.

Shaleen Mahtani has joined Linda Goldstein Public Relations, New York, as an account executive. Mahtani’s family has owned luxury jewelry stores throughout the Caribbean for more than 25 years. She has an extensive background in luxury marketing.


Demetre G. Mantamados, 69, a retired jeweler from Scottsdale, Ariz., died Dec. 26. He was a native of Greece.

Joseph W. “Bill” Muller Jr., 79, of Metairie, La., died Jan. 1. He was a retired assistant manager for Zales Jewelers.

Rose Liane Bruno-Sorrow, 56, of New Orleans, died Jan. 27. She was an antiques and jewelry store saleswoman.

Aglaia Kirles, 80, of Indianapolis, died Feb. 1. She was the retired co-owner of Kirles Jewelers, which she founded with her husband, Peter, in 1951. She retired in 1984.

Naomi Georine Nelson, 86, of Tempe, Ariz., died Feb. 4. She was the owner of Parkway Jewelers.

Dorothy Kaminski Schulman of Chattanooga, Tenn., died Feb. 21. She, her parents, and her late husband, Alfred Schulman, founded Peacock Jewelry Co., which they operated until the early 1970s. Later, they opened Hamilton Distributors

William Aubrey Johnson, 88, of Mountain Brook, Ala., died March 6. He owned and operated Vestavia Johnson Jewelers. When the store was partly destroyed by fire, he joined his father, Oscar Johnson, in the Cahaba Heights Store. He was an honorary life member of Jewelers of America and the Alabama Jewelers Association.


Jack Davis, 79, of Plano, Texas, died March 30. He was a longtime member of the jewelry industry, which he served in many capacities as a sales representative and an executive. Among the many positions he held were regional director for the Southwest at the Diamond Promotion Service, vice president of sales at ArtCarved, and national sales manager at Zodiac Watch. He collaborated with JCK on many projects and served as a consultant to The JCK Shows.

During his career he was active in the Sales Executive Club of New York, which he served as a member of the board of directors, and the American Management Association, for which he was a guest lecturer.

Davis was well-known and well-liked throughout the industry, and was renowned for sending birthday and holiday cards to everyone he met. “He was an individual who always remembered names and some details of who you were and what you did,” says Frank Dallahan, JCK’s associate publisher. “He always made you feel welcome and that while he was speaking to you, you were the most important person on earth.”

Davis served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After he retired in 1986, he became an actor in local theater and movies.


Cyd Friedman, who co-owned Matheson of Chicago along with her husband, Gary, died Feb. 23.

An active member of the industry, she was a founding member of the Midwest Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association and served as chapter president in 1992-93. Her other industry activities included membership on the board of the Midwest Jewelers Trade Association.


Carmelo “Pat” Patania, 97, a longtime jewelry store owner and silversmith in Tucson, Ariz., died March 24.

Patania was born in Messina, Sicily. At the age of 6, he emigrated with his family to the United States in the aftermath of a major earthquake in Messina. The family lived in New York City for 20 years before moving to Santa Fe, N.M., and then Tucson.

Patania learned silversmithing from his elder brother, Frank, and was widely recognized for his Southwestern, Indian-inspired designs. The two brothers opened the Thunderbird Shop in downtown Tucson in 1937. In 1959, “Pat” Patania opened the Kachina Shop, which he operated until he retired in 1979.


Donald L. Conkey, 71, of Pittsburgh, founder of Don Conkey & Sons Inc., died April 19. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he attended the Western Pennsylvania Horological School under the GI Bill. After working for a jeweler for five years and then as a traveling sales rep, he started Don Conkey & Sons, a jewelry manufacturer and wholesaler, in 1969. All of his four children followed him into the jewelry business.

He continued his interest in timepieces, collecting watches and clocks. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Jewelers Association and the American Watch and Clock Collectors.

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