Awards for Excellence Gala moves to new location at The Hammerstein Ballroom for July 25 event.The Women's Jewelry Association has announced its nominees for the association's annual Awards for Excellence. The awards are given to female professionals in the jewelry and/or watch industries who have demonstrated significant achievements throughout their careers, in categories that include: design; manufacturer, dealer, supplier; retail; sales and merchandising; marketing and communications; editorial media; special services; and watches. The winner in each category will be announced at the WJA Awards for Excellence gala on Monday, July 25, 2016. The awards will be presented at a new location, the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center, a century-old former opera house and one of New York's most elegant special event destinations. Located on West 34th Street, the venue will be convenient for attendees at several jewelry trade shows taking place at that time.
The 2016 WJA Awards for Excellence nominees are:
Category 1 - Design, Fine Jewelry and Watches: Malak Atut, owner/designer, ZAIKEN Jewelry; Wendy Brandes, owner/president, Wendy Brandes Jewelry; Jennifer Dawes, principal/designer, Jennifer Dawes Design; Claudia Kretchmer, president, Steven Kretchmer; Ilaria Lonzoni, design director, Hearts on Fire.
Category 2 - Manufacturer, Dealer, Supplier: Nina Cooper, chief creative officer and president, Nina Designs Ltd.; Donna DeLucia, chief commercial officer, North America, Intercontinental Jewellery Manufacturing, PCL (Thailand); Tiffany Kay of Tiffany Kay (nominated for her work as former vice president of merchandising, Scott Kay); Grace Terezian, vice president and creative director, Kirk Kara.
Category 3A - Retail, 15 or More Doors: Jacqueline Cassaway, divisional vice president, Helzberg Diamonds; Marta Nowakowski, VP divisional merchandise manager (DMM), Jewelry, Watches, and Home, Saks Fifth Avenue; Toby Ritchie, marketing director, Harry Ritchie's Jewelers; Jamie Singleton, senior vice president, Signet Jewelers.
Category 3B - Retail, 15 or Fewer Doors: Soraya Cayen, CEO, Cayen Collection; Jennifer Gandia & Christina Gandia Gambale; co-owners, Greenwich St. Jewelers; Alexis Padis, director of operations, Padis Jewelry; Trish Roberson, owner, Roberson's Fine Jewelry.
Category 3C - Retail, Non Traditional: Ivka Adam, founder & CEO, Iconery; Kate Fordham, operations manager, Ritani; Beth Gerstein, co-CEO/founder, Brilliant Earth; Kris Kulesza, senior vice president merchandising, Jewelry Television.
Category 4 - Sales and Merchandising: Ramona Genao-Archibald, executive vice president, sales and merchandising, Richline Group; Rachel Jackson, jewelry director, The Knot; Maren Rosen, vice president, merchandising, Stuller, Inc.; Nikki Siegel, executive vice president, Armenta.
Category 5 - Marketing and Communications: Ashley Brown, executive director, marketing and public relations, Stuller, Inc.; Jen Cullen Williams, managing director, Luxury Brand Group; Hayley Henning, vice president, sales, marketing, and development, True North Gems; Donna Jolly, director, marketing, American Gem Society.
Category 6 - Editorial Media: Shane Clark, senior fashion & accessories editor, Brides; Hannah Connorton, retailer account manager, Luxury & Luxury Prive, Reed Exhibitions (nominated for her work as former senior editor, National Jeweler); Barbara Palumbo, founder/editor-in-chief, Adornmentality; Syl Tang, contributor, Financial Times Watches & Jewellery, CEO, HipGuide.
Category 7 - Special Services: Dona Mary Dirlam, director of RTL Library and Information Center, Gemological Institute of America (GIA); Debbie Hiss, Owner, Debbie Hiss Consulting; Kristie Nicolosi, president & CEO, The Kingswood Company; Kate Peterson, president/CEO, Performance Concepts, Inc.
Category 8 - Watches: Stacie Orloff owner, The Stacey Orloff Company; Michelle Peranteau, former director of marketing and communication, Baume et Mercier; Ellen Seckler, vice president- marketing, Citizen Watch Company of America.
"On behalf of our entire organization, I'd like to congratulate the extraordinary, 2016 WJA Awards for Excellence nominees. Each nominee exemplifies the great power, incredible work ethic, intellect and talent of women throughout the jewelry and watch industries," says Brandee Dallow, president of the Women's Jewelry Association. "These women are the leaders, mentors and influencers that will propel our business into the future. It will truly be an honor to celebrate them on July 25th."
Nominations for WJA Awards for Excellence are submitted by WJA members and industry professionals through an electronic nomination process open to all, which takes place during January. The awards committee, consisting of past winners of the awards, then selects the final nominees. In addition to career achievement, the committee also considers nominees' volunteer efforts within either the jewelry/watch industries and/or their local communities. Once the final nominees are selected, a secret ballot is posted at an electronic website, and each individual on the committee votes for her choice of winners. The votes are tallied at WJA headquarters, and the names of the winners are kept a tightly guarded secret until the evening of the gala.
Along with announcing the WJA Awards for Excellence winners, the gala also celebrates three WJA Hall of Fame honorees. Announced earlier this year, the 2016 honorees are: Sissy Jones, owner of Sissy's Log Cabin, who will receive the WJA Lifetime Achievement Award; Peter Engel, president of Fred Meyer Jewelers, who will receive the Ben Kaiser Lifetime Achievement Award; and Ben Bridge Jewelers, which will receive the WJA Corporate Award.
The WJA Awards for Excellence gala has been a part of the industry's social calendar since 1984. The evening raises money for scholarships and grants to deserving women entering or working in the jewelry industry. A silent auction and raffle will again be mounted in 2016 to raise funds for these important causes. WJA scholarships and grants are managed by the WJA Foundation, a 501(c)3 corporation.
"The Awards for Excellence Gala is our prime opportunity to raise funds for our scholarship and grants program," says WJA Executive Director Bernadette Mack. "We are grateful to all of our honorees, nominees, attendees, and sponsors for their dedication in participating in this event, to invest in the new women entrepreneurs, veterans, and students who win our grants and scholarships. Last year, the WJA Awards for Excellence Gala raised $60,000 for these cash awards. Our goal is to top that amount in 2016."