Even Online, Gem Awards Bring the Glamour
The industry dressed up for a virtual event honoring an image architect, security champion, agents for change, and a late, great designer.
The 19th annual Gem Awards took place online Thursday night, with attendees watching pre-recorded speeches from the evening’s two award recipients—Jewelers Security Alliance President John J. Kennedy, the recipient of this year’s Gem Award for Lifetime Achievement, and image architect Law Roach, who took home the Gem Award for Jewelry Style.
Kennedy said he views the award not just as a personal honor, but also as a symbol of how the entire jewelry industry has come together to keep each other safe over the course of his career.
“When it comes to security, jewelers are not competitors,” he said. “We are all in this together.”
The year he joined the jewelry industry, 1992, a total of 37 jewelers were killed on the job.
Kennedy made it one of his career goals to bring that number down to zero.
Gradually, the number of industry homicides dropped into the 20s, then into the teens and, then, slipped down into the single digits.
In 2019, the number of jewelers killed on the job was zero.
While Kennedy said he recognizes it won’t always stay at zero, he takes great satisfaction in thinking about all the lives members of the industry have saved by working together.
“It’s a great achievement for a trade organization, and an industry, to make such a claim,” he said.
Roach, the Gem Award for Jewelry Style recipient, is the architect behind many of the most recent standout moments on the red carpet, and was just named “Stylist of the Year” by The Hollywood Reporter.
Remember Anya Taylor-Joy at the Golden Globes? That was Roach.
Zendaya channeling Beyoncé at the BET Awards? That was Roach too.
In accepting the Gem Award, Roach, a native of the Southside of Chicago who got his start running vintage clothing stores in New York and Chicago, said he considers jewelry to be the “cherry on top” of any outfit.
“Right after you zip the dress, it completes the look and it makes people feel even more beautiful.”
He said receiving an award from Jewelers of America was particularly special because jewelry means a lot to him.
“It’s very aspirational,” Roach said. “It’s that thing you’re able to obtain when you work hard.”
The virtual event also featured two tributes.
The first was for the members of the industry who stepped up to advocate for increased diversity and equity in fine jewelry in the midst of the racial reckoning in 2020, as well as those individuals and companies that donated time and money to help those impacted by COVID-19.
The second was for the late Elsa Peretti, the innovative and game-changing jewelry designer who died in March at the age of 80.
Peretti was remembered as a “shy and humble human being” who was passionate and driven, and gave to the world not only through her talent as a jewelry designer but also through her charity.
The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation focuses on giving to projects that work to defend human rights—particularly women’s and children’s rights—combat poverty, and conserve the environment.
Elsa created the charity in 2000, naming it after herself and her father Ferdinando, who died in 1977.
Over the years, the foundation has given €16 million to the various causes its supports.
The Gem Awards traditionally take place in January but was delayed because of COVID-19 concerns. The committee eventually opted to make this year’s event online only.
Plans call for the Gem Awards—which will mark its 20th anniversary next year—to return to Cipriani on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.
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