Diamond Council Launches High School Training Program

The Diamond Council of America has launched a new program for high school students, the DCA Jewelry Career Readiness Initiative. The initiative involves licensing high schools to offer classes that incorporate DCA courses, and establishing a referral service that links program graduates with DCA members.

A total of 52 students have graduated from the pilot program of the JCR Initiative, which took place in the 2013/2014 school year. With their permission, these students will be entered into the JCR Initiative Graduate Database. As a permanent referral service, this database can be used by JCR Initiative graduates to seek out employers, or it can be used by DCA members to seek out qualified job candidates.

The JCR Initiative has been the perfect opportunity to open the students’ eyes to the magnitude of opportunities within the jewelry industry. As one JCR Initiative graduate expressed after completing the course, “I never thought about getting into the jewelry industry, but now I am definitely interested.” 

The program has proven to be the perfect way to revitalize interest within young people to begin careers within the jewelry industry. By completing the initiative, they have a newfound passion for the jewelry industry and career opportunities no matter what path they choose to pursue after high school.

The DCA is confident of the JCR Initiative’s positive impact on the future of the jewelry industry. The JCR Initiative is an innovative program that eliminates the barrier to entry for young jewelry consumers. The program introduces the participants to multiple aspects of the jewelry industry; from the DCA courses in diamonds, colored gemstones, and jewelry sales; to jewelry industry guest speakers and hands-on projects and experiences. All of these contribute to more educated consumers who are now less intimidated by the jewelry store experience. They now have an interest in the product and are excited about their new knowledge of the industry.

The JCR Initiative has also proven to be a new way to get jewelers involved within their community’s high schools. Incorporating local jewelers into the program through guest speaking opportunities allows the students to develop a relationship with their local jeweler much earlier than the traditional first point of contact, shopping for engagement rings.

The JCR Initiative is a groundbreaking way to increase interest for the jewelry industry within young people. Terry W. Chandler, DCA President and CEO, stated he feels the JCR Initiative “will help to ensure the future of our industry” due to its ability to spark interest in young people, creating a fresh and new flow of sales professionals.


For more about DCA and its education program, visit www.diamondcouncil.org

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Worthmore and Shinola Team for Charity Event

On Saturday, June 28, Atlanta’s Worthmore Jewelers and watch and leather goods brand Shinola teamed up to host the Made in America Bash, an all-day public entertainment and shopping event held at Worthmore’s Midtown location.

All proceeds from raffle ticket purchases, as well as 10 percent of all other sales made that day, amounted to a donation of $2,879 presented to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.

The Made in America Bash featured the largest selection of Shinola watches outside of their flagship store in Detroit, complimentary leather embossing for all Shinola purchases, raffle prizes worth up to $550, a food truck, complimentary drinks, music, and face painting.

Worthmore Jewelers founder and owner, Harris Botnick, said Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta was the perfect beneficiary fit for the Made in America Bash. 


“As a small local retailer, we at Worthmore rely on the idea of shopping locally and investing in one’s own community — and even as an international brand, Shinola promotes these same values by keeping jobs in its home city of Detroit to help the local economy and to bring back quality manufacturing to the U.S. Ultimately, this is the same idea surrounding the Boys & Girls Clubs,” asserts Botnick. “They actually do some of the most important community investment work by investing in the children of metro Atlanta.”

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Honors and Awards Announced at WJA Gala

The Women's Jewelry Association bestowed Hall of Fame honors and Awards for Excellence in 10 categories at the association's 2014 Awards for Excellence gala, held on Monday, July 28 in New York City.

The annual event is the largest fundraiser of the year for the association's scholarship and grant programs. Guests were given the chance to bid on a spectacular array of donated gifts to Broadway shows, restaurants, hotels, museums, beauty salons, and spas. There were also cigar and golf packages upon which to bid, as well as jewelry, watch, gift, and clothing prizes from well-known brands.

Among the headlined honorees: Ruth Batson, executive director and CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories, received the Lifetime Achievement Award; David J. Bonaparte, president & CEO of Jewelers of America, received the Ben Kaiser Lifetime Achievement Award; and Richline Group was given the Corporate Award.

The association also named Awards for Excellence winners for 2014 in 10 categories. For the first time, the nominees for these awards didn't know if they'd won until the Gala event, adding excitement to the evening. Winners included: 

  • Design - Heather B. Moore of Heather Moore Jewelry
  • Manufacturer/Dealer/Supplier - Chana Regev of Carelle
  • Retail 15+ Doors - Kim Adams of Reeds
  • Retail <15 Doors - Cathy Calhoun of Calhoun Jewelers
  • Retail Non-Traditional - Jennifer (Peck) Arthur of Amazon
  • Sales - Amy Jackson of Fragments
  • Marketing & Communications- Fran Pennella of Benali Consulting
  • Editorial Media - Michelle Graff of National Jeweler
  • Special Services - Desiree Hanson of JCK
  • Watches - Rosanna Sarcona-Doherty of Cartier

"WJA congratulates our distinguished 2014 honorees, and celebrates the winners of our Awards for Excellence," says Andrea Hansen, president of the Women's Jewelry Association. "We also extend our heartfelt thanks to all of the attendees and sponsors who supported our signature event by their attendance and donations to the gala, silent auction, and raffle. Because of you, many more women will receive WJA grants and scholarships to enter or further their careers in the jewelry industry."  

The WJA Awards for Excellence Transformation Sponsor was Sterling Jewelers, and Richline Group was the event's Premier sponsor. Rio Tinto served as the evening's "Paparazzi" Sponsor, hosting a photo booth where attendees could pose for photos with friends and colleagues. The World Gold Council's Love Gold initiative sponsored the Gala's After Party, with music and dancing. Sponsors of Distinction included JA New York Show, Couture, Jewelers of America, and Forevermark. Sponsors of Honor included Hearts on Fire, Eurostar Diamond Traders, and Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. 


The WJA Awards for Excellence gala has been a part of the industry's social calendar since 1984. In 2014, WJA once again awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships and grants to deserving recipients.

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Employee’s Move Marks Time for a Change at Kassov

When Bill Belpanno, veteran salesperson of Kassoy, expressed his intent to move to Greenville, SC, company president Joanne Slawitsky saw it as a sign to move ahead with her long-planned vision of Kassoy’s expansion, making Belpanno’s initial reluctant departure a fortuitous transition.

Belpanno has worked for the prestigious jewelry supplier for 15 years, serving the industry as one of its top salespeople. He began his career in the company’s Hicksville, Long Island, office on December 1, 1998, taking charge of its fledgling barcode and labeling division. Belpanno’s expertise in the area, which was still in its infancy, proved a tremendous boon, and soon Kassoy was a leader in the burgeoning field, a position it still holds today.

Belpanno’s sales and service skills quickly became apparent in Kassoy’s other divisions, and in no time his barcode and labeling reputation among customers and jewelry personnel grew to one of a facility in all aspects and products of the jewelry industry.

But it wasn’t just his knowledge and deft-handling of customers. Belpanno was also known for his amiable nature, good humor and deep caring. As such, he is the perfect candidate for heading up Kassoy’s first satellite location. 

“Although technically Bill is not leaving us,” explained Slawitsky, “I will still miss him terribly. “He’s been a big part of the company’s success during his time here, not only in sales, but also in leadership, service and morale. I’m quite happy, however, to be able to keep him within the Kassoy fold and at the same time move confidently toward the company’s nationwide growth. 

“For a few years, I’ve wanted to expand Kassoy’s quality personal service to other parts of the country,” Slawitsky further explained. “What better way to begin with one of the company’s best salespeople leading the way?” 


Belpanno’s new home will now serve as a service hub for the Southeast with Belpanno assisting his Kassoy clientele, visiting area retailers and taking part in industry trade shows as a company representative. He will also retain his role as part of the major account team, traveling with Slawitsky nationwide to Kassoy’s major accounts.

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