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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.



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GJEPC Announces Special Rate Benefits for IIJS Signature 2020 & IIJS Premiere 2020 for Exhibitors

This is to promote exports of diamond jewelry and gold jewelry from India.




(PRESS RELEASE) MUMBAI — The Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has announced a series of measures to promote exports of diamond jewelry and gold jewelry from India. One of the latest being the special rate benefits for IIJS Signature 2020 & IIJS Premiere 2020 for exhibitors.

IIJS Signature 2020 & IIJS Premiere 2020 – In view of the current precarious state of the gem & jewelry industry, GJEPC has announced Rate Benefit to IIJS Signature and IIJS Premiere Participants as follows: Ordinary & Ordinary+ MSME Members: 15%; MSME Members: 10%; Associate Members: 5%. To avail this exclusive benefit, application with 50% advance for IIJS Signature 2020 and 10% Advance for IIJS Premiere 2020 should be applied by 20th November 2019.

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Mr. Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman, GJEPC, said, “Globally, there’s a low demand for gems and jewelry. There are other factors that have affected the business domestically including the rise in import duty of gold. Our move to give rate benefits to exhibitors of IIJS Signature and IIJS Premiere is with the aim to give relief to our member exporters as this industry has been resilient to such situations in the past. This time at IIJS Signature 2020, we are adding a new Hall for Machinery and 100 New Stalls for Jewelry to accommodate participants in waitlist of last year. Special Buyer Promotion Program will create personalized and better experience to visitors. GJEPC will conduct Roadshows / Door to Door, in 100 plus cities. It will facilitate International connect in important countries to grow exports.”

Mr. Colin Shah, vice chairman, GJEPC Said, “Our vision is to grow India’s gem and jewelry exports to USD 75 billion and create additional 2 million employment in the sector by 2025. Over the last couple of years, the industry has been facing challenges which has resulted in decline in exports. GJEPC has been taking initiatives to address this situation and we have joined hands with Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and contributing rupees 14.2 crores towards DPA-led promotion of diamond jewelry in USA, China and India. We have also allocated rupees 5 crores for the promotion of gold jewelry in the Middle East market. GJEPC has been undertaking a series of initiatives for the sustainable development of the industry. Setting up Common Facility Centers (CFCs), Jewelry Parks, gem & jewelry institutes and promotional activities would help the industry to get back on a growth trajectory. GJEPC has started an employee health insurance scheme called Swasthya Ratna. The total number of lives covered till date are 5,21,659 under Swasthya Ratna. We have also launched Parichay Card for the benefit of the workers and so far we have received requests for 2,60,950 Parichay Cards from craftsmen and workers from the gem & jewelry sector. Parichay card holders would be eligible for various benefits and schemes offered by GJEPC.”

GJEPC has announced the dates for the 13th Edition IIJS Signature 2020. The show will be held in Mumbai’s Bombay Exhibition Centre (Goregaon) from 13th–to-16th February 2020. IIJS Signature, sees participation from over 700+ exhibitors. The focus is on product – jewelry of the highest standards of design, craftsmanship and finish. Just what you need to revitalize your inventory for the coming year. The show is compact enough to fully explore sourcing opportunities and, with a large number of new participants, it is the ideal platform to develop additional contacts.

Mr. Mansukh Kothari, convener-National Exhibitions Sub-Committee, GJEPC Said, “Our aim is to make IIJS amongst the top gem and jewelry shows in the world. Every year, based on the feedback from the buyers and exhibitors, we have been making the show better each year by adding new features and facilities. IIJS Premiere sees participation from over 1,300 exhibitors with 40,000 plus visitors from across cities pan India and 80 countries. IIJS today is reckoned as one of the world’s most preferred Gem and Jewelry Show by the gem and jewelry trade fraternity. Over 8,000 visitors have already pre-registered to participate in this event. The show is also available with navigation on the GJEPC App. I hope the rate benefits would be a relief to our members in this tough time.”

“For ease of retailers – Online visitor registration is open with special rate benefits in early registrations + multi show registration facilities (one show, 2 and 5 shows),” added Mansukh Kothari.

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CPAA Announces U.S. Finalists in 10th Annual IPDC

Winners will be announced on Thursday, Oct. 31.




(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — The Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA) announces the finalists in the U.S. division of the 10th Annual International Pearl Design Competition (IPDC). Thirty-eight submissions were narrowed down to eighteen finalists after judges viewed images of all entries. The judges are Jean Francois Bibet, workshop and production director at Cartier; Nancy Schuring, owner of Devon Fine Jewelry (whose store will show and offer for sale the winning entries and the finalists of Schuring’s choice); Michelle Graff, editor in chief of; and Hector Hassey, jewelry designer of his own same-name firm.

Finalists in the U.S. division are as follows. Winners will be announced on Thursday, Oct. 31, following a day of judging live pieces.

Chrysanthemum Fold Black Pearl earrings by Karin Jacobson

Pearl Empress earrings by Deborah Meyers of Deborah Meyers Experience

Black Diamond and Pearl earrings by Timo Krapf of TBK Jewelry

Polka Dots cuff by Alishan Halebian of Alishan

Glamorous Keshi Swing earrings by Dilly Kirby of Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls

Mandala ring by Paul Klecka of Paul Klecka Inspired Design


Esther ring by Polly Baumgartner

Lydia Lighthouse Beacon ring by Lika Behar of Lika Behar Jewelry

Chimera pendant necklace by Brenda Smith of Brenda Smith Jewelry

Golden pearl strand with Wavy O interchangeable clasp by Llyn Strong of Llyn Strong Jewelry

The Kiss of the Spider Woman necklace by Martina Buck of Haute Metal


Power of Pearl pendant by Kelly Charveaux of Scottsdale Bead Supply and Charveaux

South Sea Pearl Paisley ring by Assael

South Sea Pearl Fan earrings by Assael

Ocean Diva necklace by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Jewelry

Rocking Love ring by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Jewelry

Rocking Dandy lapel pin by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Jewelry

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GIA Commits $1.3M to Artisanal Mining Education Project

It’s a four-year commitment.




(PRESS RELEASE) CARLSBAD, CA – Building on a successful pilot and feedback from small-scale colored gemstone miners in Tanzania, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) will expand distribution of its innovative gem guide for artisanal miners to other communities and countries in Africa. Speaking at the ICA Congress in Bangkok on Oct. 15, GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques announced a four-year, $1.3 million commitment, funded from the GIA endowment, to expand the program in Tanzania to Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia. Working withPact, a Washington D.C.-based international development nonprofit organization with expertise in the region, GIA plans to reach 10,000 miners with relevant information on how to evaluate the quality of the rough they mine.

“This is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to bring information directly to artisanal miners right at the beginning of the gem and jewelry supply chain,” said Jacques. “We know that this investment will bring an invaluable benefit to miners, their families and the communities in which they live.”

Robert Weldon, GIA director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Library and Information Center, pictured with an artisanal miner from Tunduru, Tanzania.

The gem guide project began shortly after GIA Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. James Shigley saw the difficult working conditions of artisanal miners during a 2008 trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Dr. Shigley and Dona Dirlam, then-director of the GIA library, working with GIA research and library staff, created the booklet, “Selecting Gem Rough: A Guide for Artisanal Miners.” First developed in English and later translated into Swahili, the photo-rich booklet has images of the gemstones found in East Africa and illustrations of how to examine and evaluate rough gems. The booklet is waterproof and comes with a durable plastic tray that can be used to sort gems and do basic gemological evaluations. GIA piloted the program in 2016, working with Pact.

“We found that for every dollar invested, there was a 12-fold social return that will last years into the future,” said Cristina M. Villegas, technical program manager for Pact’s Mines to Markets program. “With their new knowledge, miners improve their income, send their children to school, invest in their mines and their communities.”

GIA staff, including Robert Weldon, current director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center at GIA and a major contributor to the development and content of the guide, trained more than 1,000 artisanal miners on how to use the guide and tray during a two-week period earlier this year in Tanzania. GIA’s initial efforts to provide information to small scale, artisanal miners came full circle when the GIA team visited the Tanzanian Association of Women Miners (TAWOMA), who participated in the very first training session for the guide.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the reaction of the miners as they learn the material – you instantly see that you’ve positively made a change in someone’s life,” said Weldon. “These transcendent moments make us so proud that we can provide artisanal miners with a gem guide that gives them the confidence to know their value in the market.”

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