New York—Former JCK publisher Donna Borrelli died Nov. 22 from a breakthrough case of COVID-19.
The longtime industry veteran helped run the publication for 17 years, joining it in 1999 as director of operations and jumping to associate publisher the following year, according to JCKOnline.
She had also taken over project management for InStore Magazine’s Design Awards in recent years, according to an obituary by Editor-in-Chief Trace Shelton,
drawing a record 211 entries this year “primarily due to Borrelli’s tireless work on the project.”
“Donna was exactly what we needed for the InStore Design Awards as it moved from infancy into maturity. She was conscientious, thorough, eminently capable, and she always kept a dry sense of humor about the craziness of the project,” Shelton said in a comment to National Jeweler.
“She was a pro in every sense of the word, but she was also patient, kind, and easy to work with. We are all stunned here at InStore. She is already incredibly missed.”
She was known as a “shining light” in the industry and the “glue” of JCK, as well as for her kind heart and warm smile, according to memorial posts on her Facebook page.
Matthijs Braakman, CEO of SmartWork Media, said: “Our hearts are broken from the loss of Donna. Her warmth and spirit have been an integral part of the SmartWork Media team for the past years. She will be missed greatly. We send our thoughts and prayers to her husband and loved ones and share in their grief.”
In 2015, Borrelli was nominated for a Women’s Jewelry Association Award for Excellence in Special Services.
National Jeweler’s National Sales Manager Bobbie Hamburg worked with Borrelli at JCK and said she immediately admired her candor, work ethic, tireless energy, infectious laugh, and concern about improving team projects.
“Donna gave 150 percent to her job, many times working late at night, and deeply cared about the quality of her work. It was always an adventure walking the jewelry trade shows with Donna, since she would inevitably leave her purse at a client’s booth, and we always needed to backtrack and scramble to find and retrieve her bag.”
She loved animals, especially dogs, Hamburg added, noting her love for her shih tzu, Rocco, who sat on her lap everyday while she worked on the computer.
“All the JCK family—past and present—is truly saddened by this news (of her death),” said former JCK publisher Mark Smelzer.
He said Borrelli was the ultimate “inside powerhouse,” crediting much of the magazine’s success to her work ethic, steady hand, and ability to organize the group.
“I personally would never have been able to travel the worldwide jewelry circuit and build the relationships I have today if it wasn’t for Donna keeping the home fires burning,” he said.
“It’s crazy to think about it now, but when I first met Donna, we oversaw a team of 42 employees, producing twelve issues of JCK a year (many over 300 pages) and generating $12 million in revenue! Of course, management always wanted more, and Donna took it all with grace, keeping us grounded along the way. We always found time for big laughs among the stress, and I will cherish those memories. We will miss Donna terribly.”