The Gemological Institute of America recently recognized five employees with the Staff Member of the Year award. Receiving the awards were Eddi Decsi, instructor; Debbie Hiss-Odell, public relations manager; Bev Zimmerman, GIA GEM Instruments credit and collections manager; Sally Ehmke, GIA Gem Trade Laboratory’s director of operations; and Kim Cino, administrative manager at the New York Gem Trade Laboratory.

GIA also presented the Richard T. Liddicoat Award for Disting-uished Achievement to Gary Hill, “the man who built GIA Carlsbad.” Hill researched properties, negotiated deals and headed a team to build GIA’s new headquarters.

“Gary has pooled his enormous talents as a well-qualified field geologist, experienced gemologist and talented researcher to become a superb developer and facilities planner,” says GIA President Bill Boyajian. “He is almost singularly responsible for establishing our new world headquarters.”


Francis H. Curren Jr., chairman of Pease & Curren Inc., Warren, R.I., received the 1996 Interna-tional Precious Metal Institute’s Distinguished Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have contributed to the advancement of the precious metals industry. Curren is credited with improving refining methods. He also received the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America’s Hall of Fame Award for Excellence in Refining.


Lou Grabowsky was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of Zale Corp. Irving, Tex. He succeeds Merrill J. Wertheimer, who will retire in July.

Jack Gredinger was named chief executive officer of Di-Star Ltd. of Boston, Mass. He is responsible for marketing Hearts on Fire™, supervising sales and training operations and streamlining customer relations. Gredinger is a former chief executive officer of the Independent Jewelers Organization.

Roxane Vaks was named director of tools at DRS Inc. in New York, N.Y. She was formerly general manager at Rubin & Son USA and Rosenthal Jeweler’s Supply.

Donovan H. Larsen was named director of sales for the jewelry division of Precise International, the North American distributor of Wenger Genuine Swiss Army Knives and Swiss Military™ watches. He is responsible for sales, distribution and merchandising programs of the new division.

Lori Thomsen was named sales representative for northwestern Missouri, northeastern Kansas and metropolitan Kansas City for Meyda Tiffany, a manufacturer of Tiffany lamps and decorative lighting.

Vince Manson, director of strategic planning for the Gemological Institute of America, was elected to the board of the San Diego Society of Natural History, which maintains the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Daniel Flaherty joined Mendelson & Associates Inc. of Los Angeles, Cal., as chief financial officer. He was formerly with K-Swiss.

Dale Simpson was named national retail manager for the Diamond Promotion Service at J. Walter Thompson in New York, N.Y. Simpson will head up the DPS field force and support staff.

The Gemological Institute of America named Bob Buscher chief financial officer. He oversees the financial, accounting, purchasing, tax and corporate administrative areas. GIA also promoted Anna Lisa Johnston to associate campaign director. She oversees the GIA Founders Dinner, the Annual Campaign and the Treasured Gifts Council.

OASIS Inc., a gift trade association and organizer of the OASIS Gift Show, appointed Jan Holland-Malcolm exhibitor services coordinator.

Scott Polk, president of LylesDeGrazie, a wholesale jewelry distributor in Dallas, Tex., was appointed president of the Bill Cooper Salesmen Fund. The fund provides charitable financial assistance to commissioned sales professionals in Dallas.

Pease & Curren, Warwick, R.I., named Harold C. Howland Jr. vice president of sales. Howland is formerly deputy executive director of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America and has been with Pease & Curren for five years.

Manny Bonazzo was named national sales manager of Jeff Cooper Inc., Carle Place, N.Y. He joins the company with 20 years of experience in fine jewelry.

Lister Jewelers, Coral Gables,FL, named Mariela Garcia executive director of finance/domestic and international. Garcia oversees the daily operations and the bookkeeping staff at the main Coral Gables store.

Jurgen J. Maerz was appointed manager of technical education for the Platinum Guild International USA Jewelry, Newport Beach,Cal.

Sterling Inc., Akron, Ohio, announced several promotions. Jerry Denning was promoted to vice president of distribution and repair, Tryna Kochanek to vice president of regional operations, Paul Kronick to vice president of regional operations, Robert Glaser to vice president of regional operations and Jeff Starkey to director of field repair shops.

Goebel of North America, Pennington, N.J., appointed Maria Ascoli eastern regional manager and Larry Yeisley central regional manager. Ascoli most recently was regional sales manager for Walt Disney Art Classics.

Yeisley was a regional sales manager with McGraw Hill/London House.

NILI Jewelry Corp., New York, N.Y., named Rick Gouthro territ-ory manager in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and southeast Illinois. He brings more than 20 years of experience in the jewelry industry.


Anne McGowan Creamer of Erin, Tenn., died Feb. 11. She was retired from Harold L. Shyer Jeweler.

Donald Gradwohl, 74, a retired jeweler from Phoenix, Ariz., died Jan. 15.

Sean Goetcheus, 25, of Chattanooga, Tenn., died Jan. 9. He recently became a certified gemologist and was the diamond specialist for Southern Gold and Diamonds in Chattanooga.

Lee “Sonny” Harrison Jr. of Columbus, Ohio, died Feb. 11. He was a self-employed salesman and former owner-operator of Harrison’s Jewelry Store in Columbus.

Etta P. Hopkins, 76, of Morganza, La., died Jan. 19. She was the retired owner of Hopkins Jewelry Store.

Anton Panowicz of Olympia, Wash., died Jan. 4. He founded Panowicz Jewelers in Olympia.

Joe Weinman of Newtown, Pa., died Jan. 23. He was a sales representative for Kurt Gutmann for 18 years, covering the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic territories


Jewelers of America announced the winners of the JA/Affiliate National Design Competition during the JA

International Jewelry Show in New York City in January. The 33 entries were all winners of the design contests held by their respective JA affiliate associations.

Entries were judged on overall design, practicality and wearability, marketability and technical excellence. First-place winners received a commemorative plaque from JA.

The winners:

  • Best of Show and first place for the $1,001-$3,000 category: Barry DiNola of Yardley Jewelers, Yardley, Pa., for a 14k gold handmade pin with diamonds, tanzanite and pink tourmaline.

  • $1,000 and under: Richard K. Westphal of R. Westphal Jewelers, Hutchinson, Kan., for a 14k yellow-gold pendant with rainbow hematite and diamonds.

  • $3,001 and up: John Strobel of TQ Diamonds, Madison, Wis., for an 18k yellow-and-white-gold brooch/slide with pink sapphire, druzy quartz, a diamond and a Tahitian black pearl.

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