Once again, the first weekend of the new year gave our industry plenty of reasons to break out their finest, brave the bone-chilling weather, and hit the town to celebrate some of the greatest talents in our community! COUTURE was the proud sponsor of the Red Carpet at the 13th Annual GEM Awards on Friday night, and the COUTURE team was there to celebrate the honorees at two star studded tables (and by “stars,” we’re of course referring to some of COUTURE’s retailer, designer and media friends!).
Cocktails and photo ops dominated the early part of the evening, held in the grand atmosphere of Cipriani 42nd Street. As with every year during “January Jewelry Madness,” in many cases it’s been months since we’ve seen each other, so we’re all genuinely happy to be reunited, especially with everyone looking so fabulous! “Who’s is this? Who’s is that?” is the question that starts pretty much every conversation, and unlike Ryan Seacrest on any given celebrity red carpet, the jewelry is the only thing we’re all asking about!
Unlike at many industry events, when the announcement was made that it was time to head to our seats for the evening program, people made their way post haste; the Awards were what we all were there to hear announced, after all! First up was the category of Marketing. It was a tough competition between venerable brands Tudor, Forevermark and Shinola, but ultimately, Shinola took home the prize. The gorgeous and poised Carolyn Murphy graciously accepted the award on behalf of the company, touting its hometown of Detroit as, “A city that helped build this country.” Next on the roster was the Media category, where two of our absolute favorite jewelry mavens–Claudia Mata of W Magazine and Maria Doulton of The Jewellery Editor–as well as watch aficionado Jack Forster of Revolution Magazine, were up for the prize. When Claudia took to the stage to accept her award in a stunning red dress, she warmed all of our hearts by saying, “It’s amazing to be nominated and to actually win for doing something you love!” She went on to thank all of the jewelry designers who have opened their workshops and studios to her and sharing their creativity, recognizing how personal and intimate the design process is. We all waited with bated breath to hear the announcement of the winner in the design category. Alexis Bittar, Stephen Webster and Todd Reed are all winners in our hearts but alas, only one could take home the award. In typical Stephen fashion, when he got up to accept his award he made us all laugh while we collectively wondered if the evening’s live feed had a “delay” or “bleep” button!
The highest honor of the evening, The Lifetime Achievement Award, was awarded to the always affable Larry Pelzel of Neiman Marcus. In a heartfelt speech, Larry thanked his team and his wife, and assured us all that, even after over 30 years in the fine jewelry industry, he has every intention of staying with us for a very long time.
Friday would have been enough to complete the weekend, but the COUTURE team took it a step further by attending the festivities of the 24 Karat Club of NY the following evening. Held at the Waldorf Astoria, thousands of people in the fine jewelry and watch industry come together each year to network at the various suite parties, attend the annual banquet, and, in some cases, dance the night away. It’s always an amazing opportunity to say hello to people you might have missed the night before, meet new people, and take stock of the sheer number of people you know!
And so, with plenty of fond memories to hold us over until we see each other again in Las Vegas, it was a wrap!