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AGTA Announces Judges for 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards




‘This is a power-packed group of judges.’

(Press Release) DALLAS, TX — The American Gem Trade Association announces its panel of judges for the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards. This year’s judges are:

  • Arun Bohra, manufacturer, Arunashi.
  • Cathy Calhoun, retailer, Calhoun Jewelers.
  • Sherris Cottier Shank, lapidary, Gemscapes.
  • Alishan Halebian, designer, Alishan.
  • Holly Wesche, retailer, Wesche Jewelers.

“This is a power-packed group of judges,” said Douglas K. Hucker, AGTA CEO. “With years of expertise in color, design, craftsmanship and retail, these judges will absolutely provide us with a stellar collection of winners this year!” The 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards will take place in August.

The AGTA Spectrum Awards is a colored gemstone and cultured pearl jewelry design competition with categories in Bridal Wear, sponsored by The Knot; Business Day Wear; Classical; Evening Wear; and Men’s Wear. AGTA Spectrum Awards also features the Platinum Honors sponsored by Platinum Guild International and the Gem DIVA Awards sponsored by the Women’s Jewelry Association. The AGTA Cutting Edge Awards honor loose colored gemstones in everything from Classic Gemstones to one-of-a-kind Carvings, Pairs and Suites to Objects of Art. The competition is open to U.S. and Canadian designers and cutters.

Meet the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards judges:

Arun Bohra, ArunashiINSTORE ArunBohra

A native of Jaipur, India, Arun Bohra was destined to design and make jewelry. He is the eighth generation of a family that has been in the jewelry business since 1841, creating exquisite, elaborately detailed pieces for Indian royalty. Bohra draws on the rich heritage of both his family and his culture in creating his own signature line, Arunashi.

Bohra began his professional career as a gemstone dealer, where he enjoyed the challenge of finding rare, beautiful stones, which laid the foundation for his profound knowledge of the jewelry industry. In 2004, Bohra and his wife, Ashita, combined their names, talents and experience to create their own line of jewelry, Arunashi, a bold, innovative line of luxury jewelry. The collection fuses the finest technical achievements with opulence and sophistication. Unexpected mediums, highly articulated metal work and an infusion of color gloriously expressed in rare gems are the signature elements of Arunashi. Bohra is passionate about design and approaches jewelry as an art, and each Arunashi piece embodies gemstones of exceptional quality and the finest craftsmanship, weaving together art and fantasy, tradition and innovation, drama and subtlety, bringing a fresh voice to an antique craft.


All the pieces are one-of-a-kind, and Bohra’s work has limited distribution through a handful of retailers around the world, with each account carefully selected to ensure it shares the same passion and philosophy as that of Arunashi.

Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun JewelersINSTORE CathyCalhoun

Cathy Calhoun found her way into the jewelry business in an unusual way. A friend of hers fell ill, and she temporarily took over his store while he recovered. And the rest is history! With a background in business and finance from Temple University, Calhoun continued her education at the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society. Calhoun Jewelers, formerly Zenker Jewelers, is proud to be the Royersford, PA, area’s best and largest name in fine jewelry since 1951.

Calhoun brings an unmatched passion and knowledge to Calhoun Jewelers with years of experience with fine jewelry, as well as custom design, estate jewelry and repairs. In addition to serving as a long-time board member and president of the American Gem Society (2010-2012), she is proud to be the Pennsylvania Jeweler of the Year (2009). She serves on the Board of Directors for the Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., Jewelers for Children, Diamond Empowerment Fund and Jewelers of America.

Calhoun is the recipient of many industry awards, including the 2014 WJA Award of Excellence (Retail Jeweler) and the inaugural Sallie Morton Award from the American Gem Society, which was given to the nominee whose vision and hard work are instrumental in helping the AGS grow its guilds. Most recently, Calhoun was honored with the AGS’s most prestigious award, the Robert M. Shipley Award, at the 2017 AGS Conclave. The award was in honor of her untiring commitment to the jewelry industry and her dedication to and service to the American Gem Society.

Calhoun has a passion for giving back, and has hosted special events at Calhoun Jewelers benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. Calhoun has been featured as a jewelry expert on Antiques Road Show, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Travel Channel, CNN Money and HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk” and “You Live in What.”

Sherris Cottier Shank, GemscapesINSTORE Sherris

Recognized as one of the world’s most talented gemstone artists, Shank has a unique gift for looking into the heart of each gem to find its hidden beauty and reveal it to the world.


Shank’s gem sculptures have been sold at Christies in England and acquired by the The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

She has won nine AGTA Cutting Edge Awards as well as an award from The Competition For The Advancement In Gemstone Engraving in Idar Obertsetin, Germany.

Her work is regularly featured in books and magazines, and she has spoken multiple times at AGTA, RJO, and AGS.

Alishan Halebian, Alishan

Alishan Halebian is one of the most original artists creating and pursuing his own vision in jewelry. Being a self-taught goldsmith, his treatment of precious metals is masterly.INSTORE Alishan2

Using sophisticated techniques, he creates seemingly weightless pieces, capturing metal’s beauty in a luxe look with textures set to thrill and inspire.

Halebian’s Armenian heritage brings the philosophies of two world cultures, East and West, together.


His discerning clients are attracted to his designs for their notably individual characteristics and emotions, confronting line and form.

Contemporary designs merged with classical art elements bring exquisite style to his jewelry collection, which sells at the finest retail jewelry stores.

Halebian’s jewelry has been worn on red carpet awards by celebrities and his one-of-a-kind pieces have been exhibited in several museums and art galleries.

Holly Wesche, Wesche Jewelers

Holly Wesche is the third generation of a jewelry family and is the owner of Wesche Jewelers.

She is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America and holds the advanced title of certified gemologist, which is awarded by the American Gem Society. She is a past president of the Florida Jewelers Association and was a Jewelers Education Foundation speaker for several years. She currently serves on the Jewelers of America Board of Directors and is a vice chair of the JA Executive Committee.INSTORE Wesche

Wesche Jewelers is Brevard County’s largest independent jeweler, with a professional staff that includes a certified gemologist, a certified gemologist appraiser, two talented jewelry designers and a master goldsmith. It also has a fully accredited gemological laboratory. In August 2007, Wesche Jewelers was featured as one of America’s Coolest Stores by INSTORE. Wesche Jewelers was one of the national winners of the 2007 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. In April 2007, Wesche Jewelers was listed as one of the 50 Most Influential Businesses in Brevard by Space Coast Business magazine.

Once again this year, a portion of each Gem DIVA Award entry fee will be donated to the WJA’s Cindy Edelstein Memorial Fund. The fund, which will be part of the WJA Foundation, will be earmarked for educational opportunities within the jewelry design and education communities.

The deadline for mail-in entries is June 30; the New York drop-off for Spectrum entries is Tuesday, July 11, at the offices of Intercolor USA, 48 W. 48th St., Ste. 800, New York. For more information regarding the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards, contact Megan Whitmire at 800-972-1162.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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