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Gem Legacy Expands Advisory Council

New industry members join in advocacy for East Africa’s mining communities.




(PRESS RELEASE)FERNDALE, MI — Gem Legacy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization launched in 2018 and dedicated to artisanal gem mining communities, has expanded its advisory council, with the addition of: Michelle Graff of National Jeweler, Meghan Margewicz of JCK Luxury, Lika Behar of Lika Behar Collection, Kate Donovan of AGA, Jennifer Maxwell of Leigh Maxwell Jewelry, Elle Hill of Hill & Co., and Debra Navarro of Debra Navarro Jewelry.

Existing members of the advisory council are Niveet Nagpal of Omi Gems and Omi Privé, Jonathan and Brecken Farnsworth of Parlé Jewelry Designs, Katherine Bodoh of American Gem Society, Stuart Robertson of Gemworld International, and Sumit Dangi of Jewelers Mutual.

Council members are dedicated to sharing Gem Legacy’s mission and inspiring the industry to give back at the source. They serve as ambassadors for Gem Legacy and advocates for Gem Legacy’s initiatives. The expanded council will endeavor to enroll new partners and collaborate with industry organizations and businesses to form alliances with Gem Legacy.

“The expansion of the Gem Legacy advisory council is an exciting step forward for our industry, for Gem Legacy, and for the communities and businesses the organization supports,” says Ben Smithee, who serves on Gem Legacy’s board of directors, responsible for day-to-day decision making at the nonprofit. “Our new advocates will lead the charge for a unified movement to support the communities that serve as the foundation of our industry.”

For more information about Gem Legacy, visit here.

New Additions to the Gem Legacy Advisory Council


Meghan Margewicz
Meghan Margewicz began her career in the watch and jewelry sector in 2006 working for GUESS Watches/Gc Timepieces, and their respective jewelry lines (at Sequel International, a division of Timex). As the Marketing & PR Manager for North & South America, Meghan managed a variety of GUESS Watch/Jewelry marketing, events and press activities – including many years of press appointments at Basel World and exhibiting at JCK. Meghan joined RX Global in 2015, after nine years at GUESS Watches, as the Marketing Director for JIS Jewelry Shows. In 2018, Meghan was provided a unique opportunity to combine her lifelong passion of horse sports with her career, and put jewelry on hold, to take a position as the Event Director for an equestrian expo in Lexington, Kentucky. Following the launch of this event in 2021, the opportunity once again arose for Meghan to reconnect with the jewelry industry as the Event Director of Luxury. Meghan is thrilled to be back in the jewelry sector, while continuing to ride and competitively show horses outside of work. Meghan resides in Ridgefield, Connecticut with her husband, four children, and mini golden doodle.

Kate Donovan
Kate Donovan has forged an illustrious path in the global gem and jewelry landscape that spans over three decades. Her profound dedication and passion as an ambassador for jewelry and gemological education, sales, service, and industry development, coupled with her diverse roles in both for-profit and non-profit sectors has positioned her with a wealth of expertise and relationships. Her career includes over 20 years devoted to couture retail jewelry sales, management, and procurement, and extends to wholesale-colored gemstones and mineral specimen sales. In 2009, Kate was recruited by and served the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for over a decade, notably, in her role leading the global GIA Alumni Association. Donovan ventured into entrepreneurship in 2019, establishing her consultancy firm. Today, as a freelance contractor she serves as Executive Director of the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA) and her expertise continues to fuel business development initiatives, catering to both industry entities and individuals, within the gem and jewelry sector.

Lika Behar
Award winning jewelry designer, Lika Behar, creates unique and intimate works of wearable art inspired by ancient civilizations & the Mediterranean. Her hand wrought individual designs reflect ancient history and the modern feminine spirit. Lika strives to give through her philanthropic efforts. In addition to supporting the Gem Legacy, she backs Citymeals on Wheels, an organization that provide meals to homebound elderly in New York City. She also sponsors a yearly free breast screening mammogram bus for uninsured / underinsured women through the American Italian Cancer Foundation. The company is a proud member of Jewelers Vigilance Committee, American Gem Society and AGTA (American Gem Trade Organization), which shows her commitment to ethical business conduct. Lika holds an MBA in international finance from NYU and speaks English Spanish French and Turkish.

Debra Navarro
Debra Navarro is an award winning fine jewelry designer and graduate gemologist best known for her unique styling of natural colored gemstones and 18k gold into one-of-a-kind works of wearable art. Before discovering the jewelry industry, Debra graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Communications. Performing voice work for a jewelry store introduced Debra to fine jewelry and ignited a quest for more knowledge. After achieving her Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, she earned the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser through the American Gem Society. Her interest in responsible sourcing led Debra to explore artisanal mining communities deep in the East African bush. There she made the life changing decision to trust her vision and launch her own line of fine jewelry with purpose and impact and its heart. With a refined organic aesthetic inspired by her Texas roots, Debra designs for the strong, modern, independent person who chases their dreams with polish and grit. Today Debra lives in Wichita, KS where she designs three distinct collections, Barefoot, Watu, and NDUR, that work together beautifully or on their own. In an exciting twist, Debra recently launched NGAGE, a new bridal division of fully customizable rings. Through sales she donates a portion of proceeds to Gem Legacy and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, two non-profit organizations making an impact in Africa. Her designs can be found exclusively at select Neiman Marcus stores and other fine jewelry retailers.

Jennifer Maxwell
Jennifer Maxwell is the founder and designer of Leigh Maxwell Jewelry. Jennifer’s journey began as a medical doctor whose work took her to developing regions throughout the world, including East Africa. As Jennifer transitioned from a medical professional to the world of fine jewelry, she found herself seeking a deeper meaning to connect with her new creative endeavor. That purposeful connection was made when she learned of Gem Legacy. Being involved with Gem Legacy allows Jennifer to create meaningful pieces of jewelry that carry the narrative of ethical sourcing, sustainability and commitment to the communities that contribute so much to the jewelry industry. Jennifer travelled with Gem Legacy first in 2017, followed by a second trip in 2023. She looks forward to many more Gem Legacy Adventures!

Elle Hill
Elle is a renowned entrepreneur and lauded expert in the diamond, gemstone and jewelry industry. Her 28 years of achievements include helping businesses large and small to succeed—from launching her own award-winning international designer jewelry retailer, which she brought public with a $10 million IPO in less than four years, to helping single-store retailers achieve 40%+ increases in year-over-year sales, to helping some of the largest brands and retailers in the world, Blue Nile and Rapaport among them. As Founder & CEO of Hill & Co. diamond, gemstone and jewelry launch & growth experts, Elle and her team have amassed an unparalleled array of hurdle-jumping expertise, marketing savvy and a stable of A-list clients who they help harness technology to streamline operations, drive traffic, and revenue. Elle is known for her ability to help businesses grow revenue swiftly—and to increase profit for jewelry retailers and the businesses that support them. Working with Elle and her team gives you access to a wealth of insight and experience from someone who’s made all the mistakes, knows how to avoid them, and can guide you on the fast track to growth.


Michelle Graff
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Michelle Graff got her start on the crime beat at a daily newspaper in suburban Atlanta. She moved to New York in 2007 and has worked for National Jeweler ever since, working her way up to the position of editor-in-chief. She is a past winner of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Award for Excellence in the Editorial Media category and was the 2022 recipient of the Gem Award for Media Excellence. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, running, gardening, and cats.



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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