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WJA Gives $65,500 in 2019 Scholarships and Grants

The money is going to 49 women.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – In advance of its Awards for Excellence Gala on July 29, which will raise funds for scholarships and grants, the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) announced that proceeds from 2019 fundraising resulted in awards totaling $65,500 in grants and scholarships to 49 women. The recipients are using the funds to underwrite education and advance their professional careers.

“Our grant and scholarship winners are an impressive group,” says WJA Executive Director Bernadette Mack. “Helping women enter and sustain careers in the jewelry business is one of the most important goals of the Women’s Jewelry Association.”

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The named scholarship and grant recipients are:

Carelle-WJA Grant Winner ($5,000)

Winners: Anne Holman and Jen Townsend, The Smithery
Anne Holman and Jen Townsend are jewelry artists who each earned a BFA from the Columbus College of Art & Design. Each has been building her own jewelry business, exhibiting work and teaching jewelry and enameling workshops in art centers and undergraduate metalsmithing classes. Together, they built The Smithery, an artist-made shop and metalsmith studio focusing on contemporary jewelry and modern craft located in Columbus, Ohio. The Smithery features lines of jewelry designed and created in house by the two artists, and also represents over 70 American and International artists. In addition, The Smithery includes an exhibition gallery and classroom area offering jewelry and enameling workshops. Holman and Townsend plan to use their grant to establish a separate studio space and acquire additional tools for expanded class offerings.

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Female Veteran Scholarship, sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group ($5,000)

Winner: Nora Micheli Hernandez
Nora Micheli Hernandez is currently a student at Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. She will be graduating later this year with certificates in jewelry repair, computer-aided design, and jewelry technology. She is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army, as well as a wife and mother to two boys. She plans on doing custom jewelry and working with other disabled veterans. Hernandez plans to use the grant money to buy the equipment and supplies needed to set up her studio.

The Cindy Edelstein Jewelry Design Scholarship ($5,000)

Winner: Coco de Salazar
Coco de Salazar is a jewelry designer and teaching artist in Miami, Florida. She has been metalsmithing for nine years and currently teaches fabrication and soldering classes at Jewelry Creations Workshop school in North Miami. Her jewelry line, “de Salazar Jewelry,” is designed and fabricated in her private Miami studio. In the daytime, de Salazar is a graphic designer and fine arts photographer, focusing on branding, marketing, and design needs for clients. She holds the president-elect board position for the WJA Miami Chapter. She plans to use her scholarship funds to pursue the Comprehensive CAD/CAM for Jewelry certificate through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

The Gabriel Love Foundation Scholarship ($5,000)

Winner: Xabrina Michel’li Thompson
Xabrina Michel’li Thompson is a 22-year-old graduate of one of South Africa’s leading girl’s schools, Epworth High School. She is pursuing a graduate gemologist diploma from GIA, for which she will use her scholarship funds. She is a student member of the Women’s Jewelry Association. Thompson works in the jewelry industry and as part of her duties and responsibilities she has traveled widely, particularly in Asia and the Far East, marketing and sourcing jewelry products. In this process she identified a business opportunity, which she researched and introduced to her employer. As a result, a subsidiary company was formed, in which Thompson was given a share holding. She’ll use her newfound gemological knowledge to develop a freshwater pearl, colored stone, and sterling silver jewelry brand. She also wants to establish a WJA Chapter in her home country in South Africa to help others achieve their dreams.

The June Herman Designer/Creator Scholarship ($5,000)

Winner: Qianwen Lu
Qianwen Lu is a student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she is studying towards her degree in jewelry design. She plans to continue studying jewelry in a post-graduate course.

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The Peggy Kirby Designer Scholarship ($5,000)

Winner: Hsinyu Chu
Hsinyu Chu was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She received her bachelor of fine arts in fashion design and master of fine arts in jewelry metal art at Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She also studied at The Revere Academy in San Francisco. Chu received a jewelry design & technology diploma and a graduate jeweler diploma from GIA and is a student in its graduate pearls program. In 2017, she launched her jewelry workshop, JC Art & Design, in San Francisco’s Mission District before moving it to Milpitas, California. Chu would also like to become an appraiser and wishes to take an appraisal course.

Other Student Scholarships

These scholarships are awarded in three different categories: Designer/Creator (based on images of finished pieces that are designed and created by the student): Lauren Delbracco $3,000, Xun Liu $2,500, Zoe Larson $1,500, Melissa Cousins $1,000. Designer (based on designs by the student, includes CAD and drawings): Mengjie Zhang $2,000, Xinchen LI $1,000. Non-Designer (essay-based for applicants studying to be gemologists, appraisers, watchmakers, bench jewelers, or retailers): Bonnie Cornell $3,000; Jennifer Pollard $2,500; Katie Soule $1,500; Laura Marsolek $1,000.

Member Grants

Previously, WJA announced that it had awarded 32 member grants of $500 each to recipients around the country, for a total of $16,500 in awards. The grants are awarded to female, professional-level, WJA members in good standing, to be used toward professional growth. Grant winners are listed by the WJA Chapter that submitted their names:

  • Austin: Jen Leddy-Barnes; Boston: Wendy Jo New; Chicago: Sue Rosengard, Anne Van der Meulen, Olivia Zale; Colorado: Alexandra Fitzgerald; Dallas: Kelly Grise, Patricia Schrag; Houston: Maggie Segrich; Los Angeles: Harvinder Keila; Miami: Tiffany Joachim; Northern California: Sara Beck, Christy Comstock, Brittany Stadtmiller; NY Metro: Kristine Cabanban, AnnaLisa Cervi, Christine Malle, Stephanie Maslow Blackman, Annmarie Sclafani Stewart; Ohio/Kentucky: Christina Miller, Leslie Wright; Philadelphia: Christine Alaniz; Providence: Jennifer Skiba; Raleigh: Martha D’Alessandro; San Diego: Laura Fischer, Niki Grandics, Kathleen Lynagh House; Seattle: Nancy Castillo, Jessica Herner; Twin Cities: Jennifer Bellefleur, Dawn Bruggeman; Charlotte Preston “Get’s it Done” Grant: Betsy Sanders.

WJA grants and scholarships are administered by the WJA Foundation, a 501(c)3 corporation. Funds for these programs are generously provided by our corporate partners, local WJA chapters, the annual Awards for Excellence gala, and by individual donations. Donations are tax deductible. The foundation’s board of trustees is chaired is Brenda Gamba, Jewelers Board of Trade. Member grants are administered by board member Sue Elliott of GIA, and scholarships are managed by Lisa Slovis Mandel, Lisa Slovis Metalsmithing, immediate past president of the foundation. Various committees choose the winners of a number of the named scholarships. Member grant winners are chosen via a random drawing.

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WJA raises funds for its member grants and scholarships via its annual Awards for Excellence gala, which brings together industry leaders for a social evening in support of women in the industry. This year’s gala is on Monday, July 29, 2019, at Pier 60 in New York. It will once again feature a silent auction and raffle for that purpose.

The gala will also honor Visionaries in the jewelry industry – individuals making a difference in the cause of women’s equality. This year, the two individual WJA Visionary Awards will be bestowed on Carol Pennelli, president, David Yurman; and Stellene Volandes, editor in chief, Town & Country magazine.

In addition, Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer, Richline Group, will be presented with the Cindy Edelstein Mentorship Award. Hanna is the fourth recipient of the award, which was established in 2016 after the passing of Cindy Edelstein, a longtime WJA member who dedicated her life’s work to the development, encouragement, and enrichment of the lives of women in the jewelry industry.

Tickets to the awards gala are available at womensjewelryassociation.com.

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Press Releases

International Jewelry London Announces New Leading Lights Awards Shortlist

The winners will be announced at the UK’s leading jewelry trade event, Olympia, Kensington 1-3 September 2019.

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(PRESS RELEASE) LONDON — International Jewelry London (IJL), the global meeting place for the jewelry industry, has announced the shortlist for its Leading Lights Awards, a new feature initiative for IJL 2019, created to celebrate the innovation, craftsmanship, design and distribution of fashion forward talent across the globe.

IJL has teamed up with the respected publication, Jewelry Outlook, to offer the opportunity of gaining recognition for contributions to a forward-looking global jewelry industry.

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There are eight categories, with entries submitted by organizations or individuals themselves, or nominated by a third party. The winners will be announced in a special ceremony at IJL 2019.

Katie Morris, events director, International Jewelry London (IJL) said: “IJL is very excited to launch this new set of awards for IJL 2019. We know there is a huge amount of innovation, creativity, and outstanding educators in the industry and we want to recognize these as movers and shakers, future proofers and stars of their sector. As with many industries, jewelry and watches as verticals are experiencing new challenges and opportunities and showcasing those who are embracing change and innovating through it is vital if we’re to inspire the next generation of jewelers and keep the industry performing at its optimum. A huge congratulations to everyone on this fantastic shortlist!”

David Brough, Editor of Jewelry Outlook, said: “The quality of the applicants was extremely high. We look forward very much to the announcement of the winners at IJL.”

The Shortlist are:

Best Use of Technology

  • De Beers Group Industry Services
  • Everledger
  • PureJewels

Fashion Fusion

  • Kastur Jewels
  • LeSter Jewelry
  • SoftDream by Laura Galasso

Course Provider

  • Birmingham City University School of Jewelry
  • British Academy of Jewelry
  • De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds

International Jeweler of the Year

  • Isabella Liu
  • ORA Pearls
  • Lucy Quartermaine

Best Bright Young Gem

  • Aurelie Dellasanta
  • Isla Gilham
  • Lingjun Sun

Best Fine Jeweler

  • Clogau
  • Domino Jewelry
  • Raw Pearls

Blogger Award

  • BLINGSIS – blingsis.com
  • GEMOLOGUE – gemologue.com
  • Preeta Agarwal Workroom – bejewelledfinds.com
  • IJL is an unrivaled opportunity for the international jewelry trade to network and find out about the latest industry trends and market developments which will help retailers and suppliers make the right commercial decisions.

For buyers, the show is the once-in-a-year chance to shop for the widest range of gems, jewelry, packaging and services, and to find out about the most topical issues in the industry. IJL also offers buyers the largest variety of gemstones under one roof in Britain today.

IJL is sponsored by the NAJ and supported by the GIA, Gem-A, The Houlden Group, The Company of Master Jewelers, and the Goldsmiths Craft and Design Council.

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Press Releases

Thailand’s Leading Gems and Jewelry Bodies to Take Part in Bharat Diamond Week

Bharat Diamond Bourse signs agreements with major Thai Gem and Jewelry Association for October 14-16 polished diamond sales week.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MUMBAI, INDIA – The Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s leading gems and jewelry associations for participation in the Bharat Diamond Week (BDW) which takes place at the bourse from October 14 to 16.

BDB President Anoop Mehta and Vice-President Mehul Shah signed the agreement with Thai Gem & Jewelry Traders Association President Porntiva Nakasai, and the Gems, Jewelry & Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) President Somchai Phornchindarak.

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The signing ceremony followed a highly successful visit to the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE) by Mr Mehta and Mr Shah where SDE member companies and the exchange’s leadership heard about the benefits of participating in the Bharat Diamond Week.

“The agreements signed with the professional organizations from Thailand are the latest step in ensuring we have an excellent number of visitors to the Bharat Diamond Week,” said Mr Mehta. “I am delighted that our friends and colleagues from Thailand, who we know so well, will be taking part in the BDW.”

Mr Shah, who is responsible for the Bharat Diamond Week and organized the two successful polished diamond events held last year, said: “It is very important that we work with organizations from across the diamond and jewelry world. Our aim is to raise visitor numbers at every show and to learn from the previous event how to be even more successful for the benefit of our small and medium-size company members. Visitors will be able to source literally every type of diamond both at the Diamond Week and from our other 3,000 Bharat Diamond Bourse member companies.

“Close to 90% of all the world’s polished diamonds are manufactured in India, so the variety of goods on offer is vast. In addition, the show falls just before the Diwali festival and shutdown, so many manufacturers will be offering excellent deals on their polished goods.

Mr Anoop Mehta signing the agreement with Gems, Jewelry & Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) President Somchai Phornchindarak.

“Furthermore, due to the uncertainty of the situation in Hong Kong due to civil unrest with the September Gem and Jewelry Show just weeks away, we believe it is likely that many companies that need to source diamonds will decide to come here instead. The Bharat Diamond Week will act as a perfect venue for companies to source their diamond demands,” said Shah.

The number of companies and individuals who have registered for the show is already far ahead of those for the two previous shows. And, as with the two shows held last year, the BDB will provide selected buyers with complimentary hotel accommodation, with around 150 complementary hotel rooms for foreign buyers. Priority will be given to visitors who are members of bourses affiliated to the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), but all members of the diamond trade across the world are welcome to participate.

Each Indian company that wins the right to display at the Bharat Diamond Week is entitled to one booth. Since trading in synthetic or lab-grown diamonds.

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Press Releases

Bergman, VanderLinden, Fischer & Geolat Join Zillion’s Jewelry Innovation Council

Members have chaired industry boards and organizations.

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(PRESS RELEASE) Zillion, the jewelry insurer that offers 1-Click insurance at point of sale, has formed the Zillion Jewelry Innovation Council with venerable jewelry industry leaders Phyllis Bergman, Ronnie VanderLinden, Jeff Fischer and Patti Geolat, as its founding members. Members have served on, and in most cases chaired, industry boards and organizations such as the Jewelers Board of Trade, American Gem Society, 24 Karat Club of NY, Women’s Jewelers Assoc., U.S. Jewelry Council, and the World Diamond Council.

The purpose of Zillion’s Jewelry Innovation Council is to bring industry experts together to discuss opportunities and overcome challenges to providing more transparency and value-added services to the jewelry industry. With its primary focus on better serving the end customer, the council seeks to help the industry create differentiation and better experiences for consumers.

“We are excited about the approach Zillion has taken to provide increased transparency to customers” said Ronnie VanderLinden, president of Diamond Manufacturers & Importers of America. “The industry is ready to expand consumer education, and provide new solutions to an ever changing customer”.

“Council members are interested in promoting the industry they love and to create customer delight in partnership with jewelers and industry stakeholders,” said Adam Black, co-founder and managing director of Zillion. “We are aligned and overjoyed to be in partnership with four industry experts who have dedicated their careers to bettering the jewelry industry.” Phyllis Bergman, former CEO of Mercury Ring added, “We have always been at the forefront of change, and we look to continue our efforts to exceed customer expectations”.

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