WJA Recognizes 2015 Shining Stars

The Women's Jewelry Association has announced the winners of its 2015 Shining Star awards, which annually recognize a member from each regional chapter who has given extraordinary service to her chapter.

The winners receive an expenses-paid trip to New York City, where they will be honored on March 10 at a special In The Spotlight evening event at Convene, 730 Third Avenue, 27th Floor, New York City, from 5:30-7:30 pm. Shining Stars also receive discounted tickets to WJA's In The Know educational conference, also taking place on March 10 on Convene's 8th Floor.

The Shining Stars for 2015 are listed below, along with the chapters that elected them.

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for information on attending the In The Spotlight cocktails and buffet dinner event, where the Shining Stars will be honored on March 10.

Irene Canivet, San Diego Chapter

Irene Canivet is the owner/manager of Inspirata Vita, a company that provides resources and support to help jewelry professionals and employers with employment and career success. Carnivet has more than 38 year of practical experience in the jewelry industry and more than 30 years as a career and employment counselor. She has earned multiple Gemological Institute of America diplomas, along with the equivalent of an Associate's degree in Employment Counselling (Canada) and a Master of Arts in Education degree. Her work experience includes an interesting variety of opportunities in the jewelry industry in Canada and the USA, including a trade shop, retail stores, television shopping, design/custom, and education. Along with her work at Inspirata Vita, Irene teaches Human Resources: Recruitment and Selection to college students and contributes to the WJA San Diego chapter as the web/communication chair.

Patti J. Geolat, Southwest Chapter

Patti J. Geolat made her reputation in the jewelry industry by being a well-respected appraiser, and her first appraisal credential was as a personal property appraiser with a special designation in antique and period jewelry. She spent 15 years serving on the board of Jeweler Mutual Insurance Company, nine of them as chairman. Geolat also served as interim president and CEO of Jewelers Mutual from 2008 to 2009. After this, she began focusing on estate jewelry and now partners with retail stores nationwide to bring her knowledge of estate jewelry both to the industry and to private clients of partner retail stores. Geolat has also launched a nonprofit organization, Something for Kelly, named after her late niece Kelly who lost her battle with anorexia in 2009. It empowers children ages 6-12 to overcome any predisposition they might have to eating disorders. Geolat has served on the WJA international board, and is now an active member of the Southwest chapter.

Karen Golembeski, New England Chapter

Karen Golembeski, is director of sales and marketing for Chronomatic, Inc., East Greenwich, RI, an established jewelry manufacturer of service, recognition, and award jewelry. She has over 30 years' experience in the industry, working in a variety of sales and manufacturing jobs, including with Pranda Jewelry Ltd., Bangkok, where for 20 years she managed a national sales force, executed sales strategies, and planned new market development. Golembeski has been involved with WJA since 1989, first as a member of the New England chapter, then becoming membership chair in 1999, serving as co-president 2004 through 2006 and then president for the next eight years. She also serves on various charity and civic organizations.

Katie Hammond, Midwest Chapter

Katie Hammond is the founder of an online fine jewelry magazine BRIGHTER (b-brighter.com) and the president of KH Fine Jewelry & Consulting. She has over a decade of experience with fine jewelry assuming a broad range of roles within the industry. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Hammond entered the world of auctions taking a position at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago, where she became director of fine jewelry and director of the consignment department, and served one of the company's auctioneers. Hammond then took a position at the prestigious Trabert & Hoeffer Jewels on Oak Street in Chicago - the same jewelry store that her grandfather owned 40 years ago. Hammond is a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and the current vice president of the WJA Midwest chapter.

Sue Karr, Twin Cities Chapter

Sue Karr is a graduate of University of MN-Business. She worked for an independent retail jeweler in downtown Minneapolis in sales, customer service, watch buyer and assistant fashion buyer for 12 years. Karr started a part-time retail business while raising her family, which she liquidated after 15 years when the gold market started rising. She took GIA classes via correspondence course. She then worked for another retail jeweler as store manager for 8 years. She is now on the wholesale side of the industry and works for Killian Jewelry, designer Killian Reider's new designer line of sterling silver and genuine stones. Karr is on the GIA Alumni chapter-Twin Cities board as secretary and on the MN-ND Jewelers Association board as vice president. She joined the board of the WJA Twin Cities chapter five years ago, and co-chairs the membership committee.

Alexis Kletjian, Boston Chapter

Alexis Kletjian is currently creating her first collection of classic jewelry investment pieces meant to be worn every day, keeping in mind her mantra: "Creating fine jewelry without compromise. Empowering women to invest in the foundation of their individual style." Kletjian believes in curating a well-balanced jewelry box, filled with a collection her clients will treasure in this lifetime and in the lives of those they leave behind. She designs with two things in mind - wearability and longevity. Although Kletjian spent the last two decades immersed in the world of fashion through conception, creation, and collaboration, it is her childhood spent in the Boston Jewelers Building and her exposure to the elements of jewelry design that that has led to this new career path. Kletjian is working towards her GIA graduate gemology diploma and is the vice president of WJA Boston chapter.

Adrienne Krieger, Seattle Chapter

Adrienne Krieger is the founder of Everling Jewelry, a Seattle based company and boutique, specializing in custom, one-of-a-kind fine jewelry in gold and platinum. She believes that the client should be an integral part of the custom jewelry process and that each piece of jewelry has a story. Building a relationship with the wearer is at the heart of bringing that story to life. Krieger first dove into the jewelry industry in 2004 at Colorado State University, where she fell in love with the metalsmithing craft, while earning her BFA in sculpture. After graduating in 2006, she moved to Washington State to take a position with a local company that provided daily interaction with several jewelry manufacturing processes. There, she worked in CAD and trained in highly technical bench work. Krieger is currently serving as treasurer on the board for the WJA Seattle chapter.

Janet Ma, Los Angeles Chapter

Janet Ma was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She was introduced at an early age to the jewelry world through her family's wholesale business in downtown L.A. and quickly developed a love and passion for the industry. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in finance, and then earning her MBA, she founded her company, Majolie Collections, in 2009. Staying true to her personal style, her designs feature delicate workmanship set with diamonds and precious gemstones that cater to the everyday modern, fashion-forward woman. In her spare time she enjoys cooking and experiencing new cuisines (she's a self-proclaimed "foodie"), traveling, and enjoying life with family and friends. She currently serves as treasurer of the WJA Los Angeles chapter.

Lilly Sinelnik, Colorado Chapter

Lilly Sinelnik has been working in the jewelry industry for over five years and has always had a strong interest in all things jewelry. To pursue her passion for design and jewelry, she recently formed her own company, This is Lilly, which focuses on graphic design and marketing in the jewelry industry and beyond. Lilly joined the Colorado chapter of the Women's Jewelry Association at its launch in 2013 and quickly got involved with the board. "This amazing group of women has offered priceless support and guidance to me through this next step in my career."

Lauren Thompson, Metro New York Chapter

Lauren Thompson is currently the communication manager at Jewelers of America. In this role, she communicates JA's message of consumer confidence in jewelry and promotes the association's retail and supplier members to trade and consumer audiences through email marketing, web content and print communications. As the digital communications leader at JA, Lauren also oversees JA's website content and web development. Lauren began her communications career in publishing with an internship atProfessional Jeweler magazine, which led to an editorial position at the Basel Magazine, headquartered in London. She continued her editorial career at B2B magazines in New York, where she developed a strong background in website redesign and e-newsletter production. Lauren holds a degree in English Literature with a minor in Film from Mount Holyoke College. She is communications director for the WJA Metro NY chapter board and also serves as public relations chair for the WJA international board.

Clare Ullman, Northern California Chapter

Clare Ullman of Clare Ullman Design has been creating elegant jewelry with precious gemstones and pearls for more than 20 years. Her jewelry designs evolved naturally from her career in the fashion industry in San Francisco, as an executive at Macy's Union Square Personal Shopping Department. Inspired by her travels in Asia and Europe, she began manufacturing her original designs in Bali, creating a collection that is now sold in fine boutiques, jewelry stores, and galleries around the country. Her designs have been worn on the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards and she has been recognized with awards from the Cultured Pearl Association and San Francisco's acclaimed Designers by the Bay. Since joining WJA in 2004, she has been passionate about the organizational mission to support women in the jewelry industry and mentoring emerging designers and women in the field. Clare has been on the NorCal board for the past 8 years, serving as president from 2010 to 2014. She currently serves as Western Regional Director of WJA's international board.

Laurie Watt, Ohio-Kentucky Chapter

Laurie Watt is a wholesale gemstone dealer, which she has done for 35 years with her partner of 32 years and husband, Simon Watt, and her son Geoffrey. She is passionate about gemstones and has always advocated disclosure and correct nomenclature in regards to treatment. She has a second business, a small jewelry gallery, which is located in her community's 200-year-old downtown in Maysville, KY. Watt has been very active in supporting other women within the jewelry industry. She started as a gemstone dealer in the late 1970's and when she could count on one hand the number of other women in the business. She helped found WJA chapter in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Years later, after relocating to Kentucky, she became active in the Chicago, IL chapter, and now serves on the Ohio-Kentucky chapter.

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JA Seeks Scholarship Applicants

Jewelers of America funds scholarships for members on renowned industry diploma, professional development and certification programs. JA awards scholarships during the enrollment period from February 1st, 2015, through September 30th, 2015, and employees of JA Member companies are encouraged to apply.

“Jewelers of America is committed to giving our members affordable, convenient opportunities for their professional development,” says JA Director of Public Affairs & Education Susan Posnock. “The JA scholarship fund covers up to 60% of fees for training at GIA and other leading industry programs and makes continuing education a realistic opportunity for employees of JA Member companies.”

Exclusive JA scholarships are available for the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Diamond Council of America (DCA) and Jewelers Education Foundation of American Gem Society (JEF). Scholarships are also available for Jewelers of America’s Bench Professional Certification program.

Applicants must be an employee at a JA Member store and at least 18 years of age. They must have at least one year’s experience in a JA Member store or two years’ experience in the jewelry industry.

For more information and to download the application, visit www.jewelers.org/benefits/education/jewelry-scholarships/ or contact JA’s Member Services at (800) 223-0673.

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Synchrony Financial’s Customer Service Re-Certified by BenchmarkPortal

Synchrony Financial has been re-certified as a 2015 Customer Service Center of Excellence from BenchmarkPortal, LLC, a global leader in the contact center industry.

Awarded to customer service call centers that rank in the top 10 percent of all call centers audited, the designation applies to all Synchrony Financial call center locations worldwide and specifically cites the business for high customer satisfaction, and other effectiveness and efficiency measures that surpass industry averages.

The re-certification follows initial certification for 2014, and the naming last year of Synchrony Financial as the winner of BenchmarkPortal’s “Top 100 Call Centers Contest” in the Large Center (250+ Agents) category.

“Earning certification for a second consecutive year truly validates our work in customer service and support,” said Kurt Grossheim, chief operating officer of Synchrony Financial. “These awards recognize the important value of the customer-focused experience we bring to our partners and their customers.”

BenchmarkPortal audited Synchrony Financial’s call center metrics and processes, comparing key performance indicators with best practice data from thousands of contact centers. The rigorous certification process is metrics-driven and assesses call centers against objective and quantitative data for efficiency and effectiveness.

“The certification of Synchrony Financial is a direct result of its leadership’s commitment to balancing cost-effective service solutions with best-in-class service performance,” said Bruce Belfiore, CEO of BenchmarkPortal. “It is an achievement of distinction.”

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DEF Announces Diamonds in the Sky Las Vegas 2015

Following its successful Diamonds in the Sky Las Vegas Gala in 2014, the Diamond Empowerment Fund will once again kick-off the 2015 JCK weekend with their Diamonds In The Sky Gala in Las Vegas.

The Gala celebrates diamonds and the positive impact made by the diamond industry worldwide and will take place in the Four Seasons Ballroom on Thursday, May 28, beginning at 6:30pm.

Presentation of the Diamond Empowerment Fund’s 2015 Global Empowerment Award will be made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Government of the Republic of India in recognition of their global leadership and contributions to democracy, development and the growth and expansion of the international diamond industry. D.E.F President Phyllis Bergman affirmed, “We are thrilled to honor India at Diamonds in the Sky Las Vegas 2015.”

Diamonds In The Sky Las Vegas 2014 saw a historic gathering of global diamond industry leaders as the 2014 Global Empowerment Award was presented to President Ian Khama and the Government of the Republic of Botswana. Over $1 million dollars was raised to benefit D.E.F’s global 'Diamonds Do Good' mission of supporting education initiatives that help people from diamond communities around the world.

Premier Presenting Sponsors include Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, Inc., De Beers Group of Companies Rio Tinto Diamonds, and Signet Jewelers Limited (Kays Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Zales Jewelers).

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