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Yvonne Montoya Named AJF’s Next Executive Director

Montoya will start her tenure full time on December 7, 2018.

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(PRESS RELEASE) SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) announces its new executive director, Yvonne Montoya. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Montoya follows AJF’s first executive director, Rebekah Frank, to whom we extend our heartfelt appreciation for a job well done. A search committee, led by board member Sarah Turner, went through an extensive search that unanimously recommended Montoya to AJF’s Board of Directors.

Under Frank’s dedicated leadership, Art Jewelry Forum built on its strengths, developed new programs, and grew its membership. Her hard work, focus, and passion have guided the organization to a place of new growth and stability, positioning AJF solidly as the world’s premier community for art jewelry collectors and enthusiasts. Montoya is poised to seize this momentum, run with these achievements, and propel the organization into a bright and bold future.
“We’re so pleased to have Yvonne take on the role of our next Executive Director,” say Raïssa Bump and Sienna Patti, board co-chairs. “We’re proud to say that the baton is being passed from one incredible leader to another. Yvonne brings to this job an exceptional combination of strong communication skills, energy, and passion for the arts and jewelry. We look forward to the collaborations to come.”

Montoya holds an MFA in metals from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a BFA in art history and criticism from the University of California, San Diego. She joins us after 15 years of leadership positions in both nonprofit community arts organizations and private arts studios, as well as for-profit businesses. In addition to her extensive arts administration experience, she has considerable international exposure from time spent in Japan, France, Italy, and Mexico, where she worked for the Mérida Contemporary Art Museum.

“I’m deeply honored to have been chosen to lead AJF. I greatly admire the work that has been done thus far and am excited to join forces with this dynamic and growing organization,” says Montoya. “Together with the dedicated board and staff, I am thrilled to build on the work of founder Susan Cummins.”

Montoya will start her tenure full time on December 7, 2018.

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Press Releases

Diamond Empowerment Fund Announces Winners of Inaugural Millennial-Focused Proposal Contest

Winners hail from Tampa Florida.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) announced the winners of the Inaugural ‘Real Stories. Real Diamonds. Real Impact’ video proposal contest. A second year of the proposal contest is now being planned.

The winning couple of this year’s contest, Robyn and Austin, hail from Tampa Florida and were engaged at a Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. ‘After 6 years together this ring represents our love and commitment, our promise to each other, and our promise of forever’ says Robyn.

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That ‘forever’ will include a trip to Botswana, one of the largest producers of gem quality diamonds in the world, to see firsthand the impact natural, mined diamonds have had on the country and to share their experiences through social media.

Videos were judged by digital media influencers @thediamondsgirl, @greenweddingshoes and @roamaroo with combined followers numbering over 1,200,000.

Propelled by strong retailer engagement in promoting the contest, millennial engagement was high and this success has spurred the Diamond Empowerment Fund to plan for a second year of the contest, to be announced later this year. “The contest is helping boost consumer understanding of the real, positive impact for communities of natural, mined diamonds” says Executive Committee member Rebecca Foerster, president of Alrosa USA.

D.E.F President, Anna Martin, senior vice president of GIA echoes, “Educating the younger generation on the good diamonds do and inviting them to engage in this narrative will help boost consumer confidence in, and ultimately demand for, diamonds”.

The winning video can be seen on DiamondsDoGood.com/myproposalcontest.

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Press Releases

MJSA Launches “Member Protection Package” of Best-in-Class Business Services

It’s aimed at helping its members take advantage of best-in-class business services.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MJSA, the trade alliance dedicated to professional success in jewelry making and design, has launched the MJSA Member Protection Package, a portfolio of member benefits aimed at helping its members take advantage of best-in-class business services.

“Our members face constant challenges, from securing supply chains to ensuring orders are delivered on time,” says MJSA president/CEO David W. Cochran. “They rely on MJSA to help them not only respond to these challenges, but also adapt to change and anticipate potential disruptions. That’s why we’ve assembled a portfolio of leading business providers covering a spectrum of services—from sourcing raw materials to delivering finished products to satisfied customers. We’ve done the due diligence necessary to ensure our members can access the best help available to protect their businesses and remain profitable.”

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The providers range from industry-specific experts to world-renowned brands. In many cases, MJSA members receive discounts as well as additional services—including support from MJSA staff, who can facilitate connections and answer questions.

Cochran emphasizes that the portfolio is by intent a dynamic offering: MJSA will continue to add to it as needs arise, to ensure its members have the best protection possible. Current Protection Package providers include:

  • Shipping Solutions: Parcel Pro. Offering a choice of carriers (including UPS and FedEx), Parcel Pro offers a full range of services, from Next Day to Ground to International. Its technologies enable industry-best procedures to mitigate risk and provide end-to-end protection for high value shipments. Plus, MJSA Premier members are eligible for exclusive rates far below industry average.
  • Precious Metals Leasing and Commercial Lending: TD Bank Group. When Scotiabank decided last year to limit lending by its ScotiaMocatta metals unit, many jewelry manufacturers, refiners, and metals suppliers faced a void. MJSA enlisted the TD Bank Group and its metals subsidiary, TD Securities, to help fill that void. TD Securities leases precious metals to users around the globe, and it has the expertise necessary to help members navigate the metals markets effectively. In addition, qualifying MJSA members who work along the Eastern Seaboard can take advantage of TD’s commercial lending arm (TD Bank N.A.) to simplify the leasing process.
  • Insurance Solutions: Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group. For more than a century, Jewelers Mutual has been the only insurer solely dedicated to serving the jewelry industry. It offers a range of coverage options for manufacturers, suppliers, custom jewelers, and designers, including Jewelers Block insurance and business owners policies. Their offerings range from custom policies for designers (starting at $500 annually) to a full review of a manufacturing operation. For many MJSA members, such consultations can lead to significant savings.
  • Trade Credit Insurance: One Source Risk Management & Funding. Over the past several years, as the jewelry industry has consolidated, many companies have seen their receivables become concentrated among a few core customers—a development that only increases their risk. To help mitigate that, MJSA has teamed up with One Source, the largest independent agent of the global insurer Euler Hermes. One Source offers MJSA members trade credit insurance from Euler and other firms to help protect their receivables in the event of defaults.

For a full list of providers, go to MJSA.org, or contact MJSA Customer Service Manager Betty Costa at 1-800-444-MJSA (6572), ext. 3050, betty.costa@mjsa.org.

To join MJSA and take advantage of this and other benefits, contact MJSA Sales Director Lucy Ferreira at 1-800-444-MJSA, ext. 3020, lucy.ferreira@mjsa.org.

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JA New York Announces Spring 2019 New Designer Gallery Designers

The program continues to foster emerging talent.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — JA New York announces the 8 designers participating in the spring, 2019 edition of the New Designer Gallery. Aimee Petkus, Julie Lamb, Linda Hoj, M. HISAE, Olivia B., Original Eve, Ravit Kaplan and S. Tree will be making their New York City fine jewelry trade show debut, March 10-12 at the Jacob Javits Center. Their work showcases a varied aesthetic that is certain to appeal to a wide range of retail partners.

“Supporting new designer talent is a primary tenet of the JA New York Show culture,” explains Drew Lawsky, show director for JA New York and PREMIER. “By offering these designers an opportunity to showcase their work in a turn-key booth that is supplemented by the show, as well as providing additional marketing support to highlight their participation, our hope is that we’re able to foster their on-going success.”

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The New Designer Gallery history dates back to 1977, when the then current director of the JA Show, Mort Abelson, saw a need to breath new life into his trade events and set out to find artists to showcase their work. With the introduction of the first New Designer Gallery, which included industry veterans such as David Yurman, the concept of “designer fine jewelry” was introduced into the marketplace. Today, JA New York continues to search the globe for designers in order to identify emerging artists and makers who can benefit from this opportunity.

“One of the highlights of curating this section each year is the sense of community that is created among the designers,” noted Liz Kantner, sales and designer consultant for JA New York Shows. “It’s so fun to be present while these lifelong friendships are being formed; the shared experience of taking the next step in their businesses together establishes a foundation that they continue to build upon for years.”

Designer Theresa Kaz, who formally launched her collection in the New Designer Gallery in Spring of 2018, reiterates this sentiment, “Every step forward in my business has been the direct result of a contact that originated while I was exhibiting in the New Designer Gallery. Friendships with other artists who continue to be instrumental to my business, connections with the media and, ultimately, relationships with stores, all began at the New Designer Gallery!”

The Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year will be presented this year on Monday, March 11 at 3:00pm. Anonymously voted on by a panel of experts, this year’s winner will join a prestigious alumnus of winners that includes Paul Morelli, Whitney Boin, George Sawyer, Eddie Sakamoto, Steven Kretchmer and Alex Sepkus.

For more information about the JA New York Show or the New Designer Gallery, or to obtain high-resolution images or press credentials, please contact Michelle Orman at (646) 302-5521 or via email at Michelle@LastWordComm.com

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