WJA to Honor: Bergman and Boyajian

The Women’s Jewelry Association board of directors will honor two industry leaders at WJA’s 22nd Annual Awards for Excellence dinner, at Pier 60 in New York City on July 31. Phyllis Bergman, president of Mercury Ring Corp. and a past WJA president, will receive the WJA Hall of Fame Award. William E. Boyajian, president of the Gemological Institute of America, will be honored with the Ben Kaiser Award, given to men in the industry who have demonstrated a deep commitment to the advancement of women. WJA president Anna Martin noted that this is the first time the Ben Kaiser Award has been given in the same year as the Hall of Fame Award.

Phyllis Bergman became president of Mercury Ring Corp. in 1986. She oversees sales, design, operations, marketing, and client relations. As a result of her leadership, the company has increased its customer base more than sixfold.

Bergman served as president of WJA from 1998 to 2001 and continues to be an active board member. She has also 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 24 Karat Club of the City of New York, and in 2003 she became its first woman president. Additionally, 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.

Bill Boyajian became interested in the jewelry business during college days while working for Belkeith Jewelry Co. in his native Fresno, Calif. Three weeks after receiving his Bachelor of Arts in economics, he began gemology classes at GIA and never left. GIA 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 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 has campuses in 10 countries on three continents, and its diamond-grading and gem-identification laboratory is a world leader. The Institute’s library houses the world’s largest repository of gemological and jewelry-related information.

Boyajian is a member of many industry organizations and is the recipient of numerous awards.

The Ben Kaiser Award was named after the chairman of Baume & Mercier, who received the first award in 1996. “Receiving the Ben Kaiser Award is truly an honor, not only because it is from WJA, which has contributed immeasurably to the industry over the past two decades, but also because of the respect I have for the memory of Ben Kaiser and for the award’s only other recipient, Ralph Destino,” said Boyajian.

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.

WJA, founded in 1983, is the preeminent association of professional women in the jewelry and watch industry. The national organization, headquartered in New York City, and its 10 regional chapters benefit members by offering educational and networking opportunities, mentoring, scholarships, design competitions, and recognition programs across the country. For information on becoming a WJA sponsor or for Awards for Excellence dinner tickets, visit www.womensjewelry.org or call (973) 575-7190.