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Memories of Cindy Edelstein, My Friend and Contemporary Jewelry’s Champion

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Two years ago, after the death of a mutual friend, Cindy Edelstein and I made a pact: whichever of us passed away first, the other would write their jewelry industry remembrance. I realize that may sound a bit strange, but Cindy and I had been friends and in the jewelry business together for 25 years. And, frankly, both of us being journalists, we wanted to ensure that the facts would be right. (Yes, it’s kind of control freak-y, I suppose, but it’s just one of many things we had in common.)

Cindy, as it turns out, had nothing to worry about, as some of the most insightful tributes have been written about her since her sudden passing on Sunday. In fact, one of the finest pieces was penned and posted here by Trace Shelton of InDesign and Instore. Trace’s words were so on-point down to every detail, and I have no intention of repeating all of Cindy’s unprecedented achievements in the contemporary fine jewelry industry. What I will do, however, is tell you a bit more about the smart, sassy woman, who was one of modern jewelry’s fiercest advocates and, thanks to the stars aligning, became one of my best friends.

These past few days, I’ve been thinking: Did you ever see anyone so at ease in a jewelry setting? Whether she was walking the aisles of a trade show, advising an emerging designer of their next marketing step, greeting an established one and noting nuances in their latest line, or critiquing the carving of gem in a design competition, Cindy’s confidence in her knowledge and skills was always apparent.

Such self-assurance, I would think, was a result of her dedication to learning—more like absorbing—anything and everything about jewelry. Together, she and I judged hundreds of design contests over the years. I remember, when I was a newbie to jewelry, how honored I felt whenever Cindy (this oh-so-sharp, super-quick jewelry/fashion editor of JCK) would ask, “What’s your honest opinion of this piece?”

“I want it to be the place, where retailers come, when they want to know about jewelry designers — and vice versa.— Cindy Edelstein

Over time, Cindy and I really developed that part of our professional relationship. It was SOP for us to email, text, or Facebook-PM each other at 2 a.m., asking for thoughts or feedback on something or other: a new collection, some line’s manufacturing quality, the viability of a trend, and so forth. In fact, decades ago, before she launched her jewelry industry-focused umbrella marketing firm, Jeweler’s Resource Bureau—initially, out of her somewhat-small NYC studio apartment—she asked me what I thought of the name. “My mother came up with it—what do you really think?”

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I remember (oddly, almost as if it were yesterday), replying by asking her what, exactly, she wanted her new business to achieve. “I want it to be the place, where retailers come, when they want to know about jewelry designers—and vice versa.”

Now, thinking back to that day, I feel very happy that Cindy certainly accomplished that. And then some, for sure, because Cindy wound up inventing so many things–the “Future of Design,” for example, the industry’s first Project Runway-like business incubator contest. And the specialty trade show of studio jewelry artists called globalDESIGN, which celebrates its 16h year next month. And, just last summer at the JA Show, the interactive “Designer Retailer Forum,” featuring jewelers who’ve been successful in selling designer jewelry.

Honestly, the list of “Cindy creations” can go on and on. And there’s no denying that what she gave to the jewelry industry was transformational. But what she gave to me in friendship and consistent support? That’s immeasurable. This afternoon, when my husband and I join Cindy’s family and many friends at a cemetery, where she’ll be laid to rest, I will not say goodbye. Instead, I’ll quietly tell her, “Thank you, Cindy . . . and until we meet again.”


This article is an online extra for INSTORE Online.

Lorraine DePasque is a contributing writer for INSTORE and INDESIGN. She is also a freelance journalist who has covered the fine jewelry industry for more than two decades. Having seen thousands of collections, met thousands of artisans, schlepped through hundreds of trade shows, judged hundreds of design competitions, and writtten several thousand jewelry articles, she has one simple request: “Please don’t tell me something is innovative when it isn’t.”

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