Trace Shelton

Trace Shelton

Sunday, 24 January 2016 19:00

Goodbye, Cindy

Cindy Edelstein and Trace Shelton

Cindy Edelstein spread good feelings wherever she went. Here, she shares a hug with INDESIGN's editor-in-chief Trace Shelton and television style pundit Michael O'Connor.

Remembering a dear friend, tireless jewelry advocate
and all-around industry dynamo, Cindy Edelstein

The jewelry designer’s fiercest advocate and one of my best friends in the jewelry industry, Cindy Edelstein, passed away yesterday. In truth, Cindy was a best friend to many, many people, and her passing leaves an enormous hole not only in our industry, but in our hearts. As stunned and devastated as I am today, there was no way I could write about any other topic — I had to tell all of you just what an incredible person we have lost, as many of you reading this already know.

The jewelry industry is a tightly knit community, especially in the designer world where the name on the door is also the person inside the booth at the trade shows. For someone like myself who’s not a jewelry designer or retailer, this community can be difficult to enter into. Cindy was one of those rare people who knew everyone in the room and yet still had a space at the table for you. No matter how busy she was during a trade show – and she was pretty much always swamped, since she worked on behalf of Couture, JA New York, the AGTA Show, and globalDESIGN – she always took the time to pause, even if only for a moment, to give a hug and ask about your life. Not your business -- your life. As much as I understand that most interactions at trade shows are necessarily transactional – what can you do for me, what can I do for you – I appreciated Cindy’s genuine interest in my personal life because there was nothing in it for her; she was just being a friend. It was always a short but much-appreciated moment of warmth amidst the hustle and bustle of the trade show.

That genuine, personal quality is not the only thing I will miss with Cindy’s passing, but it is the thing I’ll miss the most. Last year, at the JA NY Winter Show, I was fortunate enough to meet Cindy’s husband, Frank. Cindy made a point of introducing us, and the three of us sat and talked about our daughters, who were just a year apart – mine was in her second semester of college at the time, and Cindy and Frank’s daughter, Remy, was finishing up her senior year of high school. We must have talked for an hour about parenting and smart daughters and how hard it is to send them off and, really, how hard it is to live without them. As we always did, we talked about Malik, our son that my wife and I adopted nearly five years ago out of the foster care system; as always, Cindy encouraged me to keep fighting the good fight on his behalf. Did we talk about her regular contribution to INDESIGN Magazine (the “Customer Types” section, which won gold in last year’s Tabbie Awards)? I’m sure we did, but what meant the most to me, and, I think, to Cindy, was our personal conversation about things that mattered outside of work.


As much as Cindy was a good friend, she was also an unflaggingly positive proponent of designer jewelry. Her business, the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and Cindy remained at the forefront of business methodology and always exhibited a remarkable sense of professional curiosity, regularly sharing articles about innovative practices through social media and her newsletter, the Cindy Edelstein Daily. She promoted the category of designer jewelry relentlessly in her many and regular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts, and she constantly encouraged designers to improve their businesses in a myriad of ways – the bottom line being that she wanted to teach designers to be not just incredible artists, but incredible businesspeople as well.

"Cindy was especially an advocate for fledgling designers. In fact, 'advocate' is too weak a word — she was more like a mama tiger fighting for her cubs.

She was especially an advocate for fledgling designers. In fact, “advocate” is too weak a word – Cindy was more like a mama tiger fighting for her cubs. A friendly conversation could turn tense in a moment if Cindy thought there was a chance that you might treat small designers unfairly. She did not limit her support to her clientele; Cindy fought for every designer and promoted their virtues to retailers and press alike. She was convinced – and I believe she was correct – that emerging designers were the lifeblood of the industry because they fed it unbridled creativity. She believed they were the pioneers of jewelry, pushing the industry forward creatively even as they struggled to survive from a business standpoint. She was an advocate for “the poor” in our industry, if you will, and she often worked for free, speaking at events and writing for publications solely to advance the designer’s cause.

Over the past few weeks, Cindy had been consulting with our team about our inaugural INDESIGN Awards, which will recognize excellence in jewelry design. She emailed me early this month to say she had heard about the awards and simply wanted to offer whatever help or advice she could. She spoke to us about everything from contest categories to marketing to judging criteria, and she offered us invaluable advice from her many experiences as both an administrator and judge in various design competitions. Cindy was wonderfully frank and never hesitated to share her unvarnished opinion. Our contest will be the better for it. She never asked for anything in return; she just wanted us to be successful, and she loved when designers were recognized for their creations.

That was Cindy in a nutshell: She was a helper and a hero. She held her friends almost as closely as she did her family. She did what she thought was right and let the cards fall as they may. Her passion, energy, brilliance and experience will be sorely missed in our industry. But way more than that, we will simply miss Cindy, the person. Goodbye, Cindy – you were one of a kind. I do not expect we shall see your equal.

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