By Maria Doulton
On the evening of 9 January, over 500 members of the jewelry industry arrived at Cipriani's in New York to attend the 13th annual Gem Awards, organized by the Jewelers of America. Under the high ceiling of the vast room that was once a bank, 50 tables were laid and the stage was set for what is described as the Academy Awards of the jewelry world.
The mood was red carpet glamor and guests mingled during the opening cocktail sponsored by Gemfields. White jacketed waiters bore trays of cocktails that included Bellinis - Cipriani's trademark cocktail - and delicious caviar blinis.
Jewelers of America is the national trade association of the fine jewelry industry and represents that largest network of retailers and suppliers in the United States. Organized by Amanda Gizzi, the event aims to recognize the outstanding achievements of those who raise the visibility and status of fine jewels and watches.
As the lights went down and the show began, tables were filled with guests from big names such as Chanel, Tiffany, Bulgari, Chopard and Tudor as well as smaller, independent designers. Retailers were well represented and included Sterling Jewelers Inc., America's largest network of jewelry shops, whose table was graced with the presence of British actress Jane Seymour.
Just like the Academy Awards, there was razzle and there was dazzle at the Gem Awards, a show ably managed by Promohouse, which worked behind the scenes to create the Oscar-style videos of each nominee that were projected onto outsized screens. Norman Miller, chair of the Gem Awards, kicked off proceedings for the three categories of nominees in the fields of marketing, media excellence and design.
Flying the flag for Britain, Stephen Webster received the prize for Design. The marketing accolade went to Detroit's Shinola and its compelling message of rebirth and regeneration of American manufacturing. Claudia Mata, accessories director of W Magazine, received the media prize for her visually enticing jewelry shoots and layouts.
Larry Pelzel's contribution to the industry was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement award for his career at Neiman Marcus in Dallas and 34 years in the jewelry world.