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Jewelers of America Announces New Board Chair and Directors

They were elected on July 30.

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Holly Wesche

(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – Jewelers of America (JA), the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry marketplace, has elected Holly Wesche, owner of Wesche Jewelers in Melbourne, FL, as Board Chair. She succeeds John Henne of Henne Jewelers in Pittsburgh, PA. Wesche was elected on July 30 at Jewelers of America’s Board meeting that also welcomed new Directors.

“Holly Wesche has already made tremendous contributions to our Board,” says JA President & CEO David J. Bonaparte. “She is a brilliant businesswoman whose passion for Jewelers of America runs deep. We look forward to her leadership as she helps to guide Jewelers of America forward.”

Holly Wesche is the third generation of a jewelry family. She is a Graduate of the Gemological Institute of America and holds the advanced title of Certified Gemologist from the American Gem Society. She is very active within the jewelry industry, serving as Past President of the Florida Jewelers Association, speaker for Jewelers Education Foundation, past Vice Chair of the Leading Jewelers of the World. Holly is also actively involved in the Melbourne community where she has been a Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce Board Member for over 10 years. 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. They also have a fully accredited gemological laboratory.

“Being involved with Jewelers of America has been a priority for my family for generations,” says Holly Wesche. “My Great Uncle, Herb Underwood, was the President of the Retail Jewelers of America (now JA) and my Dad, Jim Wesche, was the President of the Florida Jewelers Association. I am honored to be part of the JA Board and to serve as Chair during this exciting time of change for our industry.”

Board Executive Committee Elections

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As Chair, Wesche will lead an Executive Committee of the following elected officers: Chair Elect – Robert F. Moeller II, R.F. Moeller Jeweler; Vice Chair – Coleman Clark, BC Clark Jewelers; Vice Chair – Karen Goracke, Borsheims; Treasurer – Craig Rottenberg, Long’s Jewelers; Secretary – Matthew Rosenheim, Tiny Jewel Box; and Past Chairman – John Henne, Henne Jewelers.

Incoming Directors

The following Directors have been elected for a three-year term:

  • Lawrence Bock – President & Owner, Bachendorf’s
    Lawrence Bock is president and third-generation owner of Bachendorf’s, a luxury jewelry company comprised of four boutiques in Dallas and Fort Worth, TX. Lawrence joined The Harry Bock Company, Bachendorf’s parent company, in 1982 and has served as president of The Harry Bock Company since 2000. He was inducted into National Jeweler Retailer Hall of Fame in 2011.
  • Caryl Capeci  – President, Chow Tai Fook, North America Caryl
    Capeci is the President of Chow Tai Fook, North America, overseeing operations in the U.S., including brands Hearts On Fire and Memoire. Prior to this role, Caryl led Hearts On Fire as Chief Marketing Officer then President, leading the integration of the brand into 2,200 storefronts across China. Caryl’s career began creating demand for diamond jewelry for De Beers.
  • Tobey Ritchie – Vice President, Harry Ritchie’s; Eugene, OR
    Tobey Ritchie is Vice President of Harry Ritchie’s, a company founded by her grandfather, Harry, nearly 63 years ago. As Vice President, Tobey oversees a wide array of activities for the company, including development and implementation of its buying strategy, as well its business development activities. In addition, she ensures Harry Ritchie’s is involved in community fundraising.
  • Lenny Kramer  – EVP Sales, Leo Schachter; New York, NY
    Lenny Kramer’s career with Leo Schachter spans three decades. In the 1990’s, he established its lab-grown emerald business. After managing the jewelry division, he was instrumental in establishing the Leo Diamond, The Elexese Diamond, and now Kalahari Dream Diamonds for all channels of distribution.
  • Stan Razny  – Owner, Razny Jewelers; Chicago, IL
    Stan Razny, with his wife Ingrid, have overseen the Razny Jewelers’ exponential growth from one small independent boutique to four thriving locations. For nearly 70 years and three generations, Razny Jewelers has been the Chicago area’s favorite family-owned jeweler. Stan is proud to represent the world’s most distinguished designers and brands — including Razny’s own bridal collection, Forever by Razny.

In addition to John Henne, outgoing directors include: Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers; Jenny Caro, Jewelry By Designs and Cathy Tivol, TIVOL.

For the complete list of JA’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors, visit https://www.jewelers.org/ja/members/about/board.

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Press Releases

JBT President Richard Weisenfeld Retires

Erich Jacobs will take over the role.

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Erich Jacobs

(PRESS RELEASE) WARWICK, RI — Richard Weisenfeld, president of the Jewelers Board of Trade, announced that he will retire as of Aug. 31.

He Weisenfeld thanked the board for the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity during which time the organization was streamlined and reorganized to meet the needs of its members.

Michael Kaplan, chairman of the board, accepted the resignation on behalf of JBT and acknowledged the many years of service of Weisenfeld as a member, a director and, most recently, as president of JBT.

Erich Jacobs, vice president of IT, will succeed to the office of president of JBT on Sept. 1. Jacobs joined JBT in 2018 and currently has operational responsibility for all aspects of IT and collection operations. Jacobs received his bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in business from the University of Wisconsin. His background in technology and business is of great importance to JBT, Kaplan said.

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Press Releases

AJS August 2019 Show Is One for the Record Books

Through new routes, AJS provided its attendees the tools needed to stay competitive in an evolving marketplace and retained its reputation as the fun show.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ATLANTA, GA — The Atlanta Jewelry Show, the jewelry industry’s largest regional trade event in the country, recently concluded its August, 2019 edition. During the four-day event, AJS August brought together over 1,200 industry professionals, and a record number of new buyers. “While staying true to our roots by providing exceptional products and resources for independent jewelers, we were proud to expand our theme of New Routes, through introducing new concepts and feature areas throughout the show that were extremely well-received by all attendees,” states Executive Director Libby Brown. “Our overall mission is to strengthen and maintain our jewelry community, and this show solidified that commitment. I believe my team and I successfully accomplished our goal of providing a comprehensive event that literally changed the course, and positively impacted the businesses of many retailers and vendors alike.”

The vast array of vendors, including many veterans and newcomers to AJS, played a huge role in the success of the show. Troy Hailey, With You Lockets, reported, “From a sales standpoint, we had our best show yet. We met our goal, which was a robust one, because of the high quality of buyers in attendance. This is our favorite show,” Hailey continued.

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The upbeat atmosphere and reports of steady order-writing and growing retail attendance from outside the show’s traditional region had exhibitors talking. New AJS Exhibitor Earth Pebbles owner Rebekah Anderson, GG, said, “We immediately fell in love with this show.” Anderson added, “Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and we were thrilled with the constant traffic. We will most definitely be back.”

The aisles were filled with retailers as they visited with friends and made new connections. Buyers Josh and Darrell, The Little Gold Mine, (TN) explain, “We have not missed a show in nearly ten years, and we never plan to. The team you have assembled here is top-notch and they go out of their way to make sure we are happy, productive and safe.” New buyer Bar-Kay Jewelers (PA) owner Kim says, “I have been to many shows, but never one as wonderful as this Atlanta show. Everyone is so hospitable and there’s so much going on, at all times, on the buying floor. Great vendors, great times. I’m thrilled and I am definitely coming back!”

AJS-University

With a phenomenal lineup of educational sessions presented by influential industry experts, Atlanta Jewelry Show provided an exceptional package of educational opportunities for every sector of the industry. Powered by the support of Diamond Producers Association, Instore Marketing, Stuller and Synchrony Financial, over 50 educational seminars and panels, and onsite GIA Grading Lab Sessions were featured at AJS.

When asked about the success of the event, Director of Education Cindy Chandler said, “Education is an integral part of the Atlanta Jewelry Show. We are entrusted to provide our attendees with real insights and real solutions to take back to their store, and we take that very seriously. As promised, this event offered only the finest learning opportunities to our valued retailers. It would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors and exhibitor members, and heartfelt thanks to all speakers who graciously shared their time and expertise with the AJS community. See you next decade!”, Cindy added.

Hundreds of retailers were on hand ready to be inspired, and they were not disappointed. Click this link to view select sessions on the AJS Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/atlantajewelryshow/videos/?ref=page_internal.

Kids Jewelry Camp

The Atlanta Jewelry Show Kids Jewelry Camp was a tremendous success, with 24 young jewelers enrolled. Under the guidance of Coordinator Mindy Spritz and certified jewelry instructors, KJC Rock Stars learned several jewelry techniques, marketing strategies and even hosted the KJC Trunk Show, where they displayed, sold and shared the inspiration behind their handmade creations. Spritz states, “It’s overwhelming when I think about when KJC debuted less than two years ago, and now to see where we are today. I think I can safely say we are truly making a difference in these children’s lives, and we are honored to play a role in cementing their legacy, thereby ensuring the future of the jewelry industry. It was such a joy work with these immensely talented students, and we are grateful for the AJS community’s support with this endeavor.”

Parents were delighted with the camp and were grateful this opportunity was available for their children. John Carter, AGS President and Owner, Jack Lewis Jewelers, said “My daughter has literally grown up in this business. She learned more during these two days than her entire life. What a great program.”

The next session will be during the Spring show, March 8-9, 2020. Interested campers should register early, as the camp was sold out in August. Designed to foster excitement and passion for the jewelry industry among our next generation, KJC is open to children of AJS exhibitors and retail buyers, ages 7 and up.

The Runway

Atlanta Jewelry Show introduced an all new pavilion, The Runway, A Brand New Experience. This upgraded area included industry favorites Beverley K, Danwak, Waterford Jewelry, XO Jewels and Zeghani, each housed in specialty booths. A dedicated hostess, flight attendants and a pilot ensured that buyers “walked the Runway” in style and experienced a new way to shop for merchandise. Limited booths available for March 2020, so interested exhibitors should contact AJS immediately to reserve space.

Occasions Shop

Occasions Shop, successfully launched at the spring show, was expanded to include more breathtaking geodes, opals, lighting, luxury gift items and high-end display units. This area featured innovative methods of enhancing a store’s aesthetic and offered innovative merchandising tips. With all proceeds benefiting Kids Jewelry Camp, the Occasions Shop offered yet another solution to help independent jewelers succeed in the marketplace.

CAD Challenge

Another popular AJS CAD-CAM Challenge made history, and AJS recognizes outstanding competitors Meghan Proctor, Designer/Manager, Hubbell Jewelry Design; Gary Dawson, Owner/Designer, Gary Dawson Designs, and Shele Letwin, Owner/Designer, Shele’s Jewelry Design Factory. This event was a real show- stopper, as hosts Joel McFadden and Kyle Bullock kept attendees, plus livestream viewers, informed and entertained during this intense, all-day competition. Meghan was named the Winner for her inspired creation based on an original Rémy Rotenier hand rendering.

Loupe + One-Stop Shop

An entirely redesigned Loupe and One-Stop-Shop neighborhood was quite an attraction, created in the spirit of small-town America, and complete with green space, park benches and gathering areas. Attendees were enticed to follow the road to the American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute Mobile Classroom for expert timepiece instruction inside its massive bus, right on the show floor. Along the route, many resources offered retail solutions, including marketing, software, retail services, trade organizations, engraving and bead stringing. There was even a podcast recording by AJS partners Four Grainer and WJA, happening live, which was a tremendous success. Listen up for Inside the Jewelry Trade’s exclusive coverage of AJS at https://fourgrainer.com/inside-the-jewelry-trade-radio-show/.

Special Features

Buyers and exhibitors alike enjoyed many special touches at the show, including the ever-popular Mingle after-party. Another huge success, with more people than ever in attendance, further proving that the AJS jewelry community knows how to party. Surprise pop-up parties were sprinkled all over the show floor with tasty snacks and trendy drinks to enjoy. Carpool Karaoke in a luxury sportscar, relaxation areas with massages and cool beverages, themed pit stops like Whiskey Business, and Studio 555 – all designed to add to the vibrant and fun Southern Hospitality that is exclusive to AJS.

Future Show Dates

March 7-9, 2020 and August 8-10, 2020

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Press Releases

IJO Concludes Semi-Annual Conference

It was held in Pittsburgh.

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(PRESS RELEASE) SOUTHPORT, CT — The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) recently returned from its semi-annual conference, which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. Several changes were announced and implemented and were applauded by the membership.

“We have a very strong and active Board of Directors, made up of store owners as well as our “NextGen” members,” stated IJO president & CEO Jeff Roberts, “and they provide us with feedback from the general membership – and we listen! We’re constantly striving to improve this organization and we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.”

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Members had suggested revamping the format of Sunday morning’s General Session, which always offered an inspirational keynote speaker, and Johnny Cupcakes didn’t disappoint. But change-up they wanted so IJO eliminated several announcements by transferring them to the Saturday breakfast, and brought in comedian Scott Bloom as an Emcee who provided some hilarity and kept the program hopping.

The first announcement Roberts made was a $500 reduction in membership dues, beginning with calendar 2020. “For years we’ve had a co-op program whereby members received $500 at year-end by using the IJO logo and tagline in their advertising,” Roberts stated further. “We realized members are busy and they were leaving money on the table by not submitting for co-op dollars, so we eliminated it.”

A new and very welcome addition was IJO provided snacks in the buying room both mornings and afternoons, plus a sumptuous full lunch for all retailers on Monday. According to Mike Youkilis, Board Rep from Midwest Diamond Distributors, “The IJO show we just finished in Pittsburgh was a huge success in business and the amazing additions of refreshments for all 3 days of the show were fantastic. Coffee and soda and donuts, bagels, cookies, popcorn and chocolate-covered everything, plus very ample passing of gourmet food at the end of the day were great! The free lunch on Monday for all retailers was well received. Of course, the free beer, free wine, and free mixed drinks every day were not so bad either. Like I always say – the family that eats together, stays together.”

“We’ve also created some new partnerships to better serve our members and to make the organization stronger,” Roberts added. “The first is Porte Marketing, who brings over thirty years of marketing experience and a variety of different tools to help them – the independent retailers – become more successful. In addition, I have hired Stephen Barnes from Barnes Jewelers in Goldsboro, NC, as a consultant for IJO. Stephen brings an enthusiastic and passionate attitude to not only help the IJO retailer, but to also help make IJO even better.”

Rich Bennett from P.K. Bennett Jewelers in Mundelein, Illinois summed it up simply. “We have been members of IJO for the past 10 years. It has been the best business decision we have ever made. The Pittsburgh show was just wow! From the new daily formats and the unbelievable energy in the seminars and buying room it was very evident that IJO has listened to its members and responded in a big way. This is not your father’s organization anymore! “

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