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Jewelry Store Opened for More Than a Century Is Closing

It leaves with a 102-year legacy.

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(PRESS RELEASE) HOWELL, MI – Tom Cunningham’s first job in the jewelry business was as a teenager helping with engravings in his stepfather’s store in nearby Hudson, Michigan. That inspired a lifelong career as a jeweler.

However, at that time he didn’t realize he would eventually own Yax Jewelers with deep roots in Howell, Michigan.

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“There was never any consideration of doing anything else,” laughs Cunningham, who is now ready to retire and end a retail legacy of more than a century.

On Feb. 8, 2019, Yax Jewelers began its huge closing sale that ends a 102 year legacy in Howell. Expect to find deep discounts on a wide range of upscale, fine jewelry in all styles – sterling silver to multi-carat diamond jewelry in all prices ranges.

Cunningham and his stepfather Charles Blanks (who previously owned H.C. Blanks Jewelers in Hudson) purchased Yax Jewelers in 1973 with Cunningham at the helm. Yax Jewelers was already a mainstay in Howell, having opened in 1917.

Cunningham and Blanks purchased the building and moved the store to its current location at the corner of Michigan and Grand River Avenue in 1979, which served as McPherson State Bank from the beginning of the century to 1960.

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What has made Yax Jewelers different from other big retailers is the exceptional craftsmanship, trust, and integrity. Unique pieces you won’t find anywhere else using a variety of gemstones. Also, all repair work is done in-house, it’s not sent out. “That’s always been a significant point for our customers,” said Cunningham.

During the sale, customers can also expect to find a friendly and dedicated staff focused on helping them find the right purchase at a variety of prices. “We can usually answer questions before the customers even ask them and we never pressure any customer to make a purchase,” said Cunningham who attributes his store’s customer service and knowledge of jewelry as a key component of the store’s long success.

When Cunningham reflects on 40-plus years in the community he realizes it’s “gone by in a flash,” said Cunningham who finds multiple generations of customers shopping with him.

“Grandparents bought their wedding bands from us and now the grandchildren are coming in for engagement rings,” said Cunningham, himself a grandfather to several grandchildren scattered across the country.

He continued, “The store has been here forever – 102 years – people who find out my retirement and the store closing say congratulations and good luck.”

One thing Cunningham is looking forward in retirement is golf this spring and breaking in a camping trailer he bought last year for family excursions to visit all those grandchildren all over the country.

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GIA Names Director of Institute Relations

The new position will oversee alumni and GemKids programs.

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(PRESS RELEASE) CARLSBAD, CA – The Gemological Institute of America has appointed Shahdeh Ammadi to the newly created position of director of institute relations. Formerly director of alumni relations and annual giving at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York, Ammadi will oversee the institute’s global alumni program, the GemKids program for young, aspiring gemologists as well as guest services at GIA’s Carlsbad headquarters.

“The more than 130,000 active GIA alumni in 65 chapters around the world are important ambassadors for our Institute and help to fulfill our mission to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry,” said GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques. “Shahdeh brings unique experience and expertise that will help us enhance, re-envision and implement programs, resources and infrastructure to support life-long learning and success for our wonderful and dedicated GIA graduates.”

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“I am very excited to bring my experience to GIA and its incredible alumni,” said Ammadi. “I look forward to working with the volunteer alumni leaders to help them meet the needs and interests of their chapter members, and to advance GIA’s consumer protection mission.”

Based in Carlsbad, CA, and reporting to Vice President of Education and Chief Academic Officer Duncan Pay, Ammadi will also oversee GIA’s GemKids program, which introduces minerals, gems and gemology to children ages 9 to 12. GIA offers this engaging gemology learning experience at the Institute’s Carlsbad headquarters – where nearly 5,000 students take part each year – and in other locations, including Botswana and South Africa. She will also lead the guest services team, which hosted 5,000 additional visitors at the Carlsbad headquarters for tours of the Institute in 2018.

Ammadi began her career at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC, where she restarted the alumni relations program. At Columbia, she established an alumni mentorship program and, through a combination of data analysis, global events and outreach, dramatically increased GSAPP’s brand recognition. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California San Diego and an executive Master of Science degree in strategic communication from Columbia. She holds a certificate in jewelry making and design from Corcoran College.

Visit GIA.edu/gia-alumni for more information about the GIA alumni program.

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Jewelers of America Announces Opening Keynote Speaker for National Convention

It takes place July 28-29, 2019.

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Judi Holler

(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — Jewelers of America, the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry marketplace, has announced that Judi Holler will open the first annual Jewelers of America National Convention with her session “Fear is My Homeboy: 4 Ways You Can Transform Fear Into A Powerful Secret Weapon.” The Convention is focused on professional education beyond jewelry, with four keynotes and a choice of 12 Breakout Sessions covering all aspects of retail business. It takes place July 28-29, 2019, at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City.

In this fun and interactive session, Holler takes the experimental ideas she learned from improv theatre and helps participants apply them to the unscripted stage of everyday life. Her mission: To stop fear from stealing your joy and robbing you of opportunities to succeed the way you really want. She helps audiences transform fear into a powerful secret weapon so you can connect in even more powerful and profitable ways.

Participants will gain an understanding of fear’s greatest hits, how fear can help you, how to not be burdened by fear of failure and tools to help manage fear, personally and professionally. Holler will also share a five-step fear setting framework to help you take action and offer a sneak peek into the world of improv theatre.

Rather than running scared from fear, Holler has embraced it. An alumni of The Second City’s Conservatory in Chicago, she studied and performed improv theatre at night while working in sales and marketing full time by day. That experience shaped a new vision for success that she’s shared with audiences across the country as Founder and Chief Fear Boss of Holla! Productions.

Judi’s forthcoming book, Fear Is My Homeboy: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms, comes out on May 28 and has been endorsed by best-selling author and media personality Mel Robbins, who called it “relatable, relevant and most importantly actionable!” Fear Is My Homeboy is available for pre-sale now on Amazon, 800 CEO Read and Barnes & Noble. The first 100 people to register for the convention will receive a complimentary copy. The convention agenda also includes the following keynote addresses: Election Outlook 2020, presented by Charlie Cook; Key Investment Trends to Watch, presented by Michael Vaknin of J.P. Morgan Private Bank; and Jewelry Customers’ Path to Purchase, presented by Neeraj Mehta of Synchrony.

The Jewelers of America National Convention is open to all jewelry professionals. JA Members receive special pricing; register by April 30 for an additional $200 off the regular registration rate. To learn more about the Jewelers of America National Convention or register to attend, visit www.jewelers.org/convention.

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Grecian Designer Talent to Sweep Vegas at LUXURY & JCK

They are supported by Enterprise Greece.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — This spring, Greek Jewels, a group of approximately 15 fine jewelry designers, brings a wave of fresh, superb talent to the United States’ premiere jewelry trade shows – LUXURY and JCK Las Vegas (May 29 – June 3, 2019). Echoing the natural beauty and mystique of Greece itself, each designer within Greek Jewels brings his own unique, modern aesthetic, while honoring iconic design perspectives and artisan techniques that date back thousands of years, embodying Greek Jewels’ tagline, “Where Classic Design Meets Modern Desire”.

Greek Jewels are supported by Enterprise Greece, a state organization designed to promote and support Greece’s substantial investment opportunities and to engage the global business community with high-end exports of goods and services made in Greece, Enterprise Greece supports the effort made by Greek jewelry designers in the US market and elsewhere in the world.

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Apart from the obvious draw of the extraordinary jewelry itself, there is an added incentive to explore the wonder of Greek jewelry. Greek Jewels’ designers participating in LUXURY and JCK offer all retailers who place orders during the show a discount up to 15% on total orders placed at the show and confirmed within 15 business days. This generous discount applies to orders over $5000 at LUXURY and $2000 at JCK.

Among the rich pool of talent exhibiting at LUXURY and JCK, three outstanding designers to watch for are Dimitrios Exclusive, Orofasma and Frangos Jewelry.

Showcasing at LUXURY, Dimitrios Exclusive offers an extraordinary collection of jewelry inspired by the rich tradition of Greek and Byzantine art. Founded in 1990, Dimitrios Kapsaskis had the aim of creating jewelry inspired by the rich tradition of Greek and Byzantine art. In 2008, Vasilis, the son of Dimitrios Kapsaskis, drew upon the inspirations of his father and further enhanced their collections by creating extraordinary jewelry collections made of precious and semi-precious stones set in 22K gold. The company’s design philosophy is included in its motto: Giving Timeless Beauty A Modern Twist. Dimitrios Exclusive won JCK’s Jewelers Choice Award Best Bracelet Design in 2019. Dimitrios Exclusive can be found at jewelry retailers in Europe and in the United States.

Also, in the spotlight at LUXURY is Orofasma, a fine jewelry company established in Athens by Kevork Kolanian. Known internationally for his design talent, Kolanian was awarded “Design Talent of the Year” in 2013 in Basel for his innovative ‘Orofasma Setting:’ a unique setting allowing the central diamond of each piece of jewelry to safely and arrestingly turn around its axis. Launching at LUXURY will be the brand new “Eternal Love Diamond” collection of 18k gold and diamond rings featuring this unique setting.

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