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Eileen McClelland

Richmond, VA Jewelers Cooperate to Help the Community

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In November 2014, 10 of Richmond, Virginia’s community-minded retail jewelers gathered at the 51st Children’s Hospital Foundation Ball at the Country Club of Virginia, where, together, they helped to raise more than $9,000 in support of the Children’s Hospital at VCU.

Raising money as a group for a chosen charity has become a local tradition for Richmond’s jewelers. In five years the group – whose members change periodically as jewelers retire or join up — raised $70,000 together for two different causes.

Cheryl Fornash of Cheryl Fornash Jewelers in Richmond, VA, began the fund-raising “Jewels” raffle in 2009, when she was volunteering on a committee for the Women in Wellness events in support of cancer research at Massey Cancer Center.  One of the most popular features at the event, for a few years, had been a jewelry raffle.

“I thought if we could expand it to include pieces from other jewelers, it would make a bigger impact and raise more for Massey,” Fornash says. “The first year, there was a little bit of arm twisting, just because it was new.  But I personally called on all the jewelers and explained it to them.”

So, in 2009, 11 other jewelers joined her to support the cause, each donating a piece of jewelry with a retail value of $1,500 to the raffle that became known as “Jewels for a Cure.”

In 2012, prompted by a change in fundraising strategies at Massey Cancer Center Fornash proposed the “Jewels” raffle concept to the Junior Board of the Children’s Hospital Foundation in support of the annual Hospital Foundation Ball.

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“After five years,” says Fornash, “I’m thrilled to be able to say that the “Jewels” raffles have become a tradition among Richmond’s most respected jewelers.”

Although all of them are asked to support myriad charities throughout the year on their own, once a year they put aside their roles as competitors, and come together to socialize and raise funds to help provide medical care for the children of Richmond.

“Richmond is kind of unique,” Fornash says. “It’s not a huge city, we all know each other and everybody seems to get along well. A lot of us specialize in different areas and have our own expertise. I never feel like I’m directly competing against them.”

“I’m amazed at how wonderful the jewelers have been, and how cooperative. After the first year you see what the snags are, get it down to a science, and it’s not as much work on anybody,” Fornash says. “I wouldn’t be able to continue to do it if everybody wasn’t really on board.”

She has found it to be a good opportunity to get to know her peers better.

And of course, local publicity has drawn much positive attention to the participating retailers.

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“I think it’s been great for the image of the fine jewelers in Richmond,” she says.

Richmond jewelry shoppers, Fornash believes, would be inclined to think of this group of jewelers first, because they are clearly involved in the community, and willing to  set aside their competitive status, in order to work together to better the community.

The 2014 Jewels for Children retail jewelers included Adolf Jewelers, Carreras Jewelers, Charles Schwarzschild Jewelers, Cheryl Fornash Jewelers, Cowardin Jewelers, Dransfield Jewelers, Fink’s Jewelers, Schwarzschild Jewelers, Saks Fifth Avenue and Victoria Charles Jewellery.

Other jewelers involved in past years are the Davis Collection, Vera’s Fine Jewelers, Jack Kreuter Jewelers, Peter Alexander Jewelers, MacLaren Jewelers and Capri Jewelers.

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Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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