Creative experts in their respective fields, these enthusiastic and knowledgeable individuals provide guidance and insight into NYCJW programming. Their savvy perspectives hail from the worlds of art and design, fashion, cultural programming, marketing and merchandising, and curatorial and editorial spheres. This broad range of dedicated advisors speaks to the inspired and collaborative spirit of New York jewelry scene and in turn the creation of NYC Jewelry Week 2021.
Marla Aaron launched her eponymous collection in 2013 when her combined obsessions with bridges, hardware and jewelry could no longer be ignored. The collection is proudly made and finished by hand in New York City and sold all over the world. What began with one lock is now an entire collection designed to be worn in infinite ways and used as “jewel tools” with individuals’ own collections—to redefine the “precious” in jewelry with individuality.
Before launching her collection, Marla spent over 25 years in marketing and advertising. She was not very good at it. Highlights include working on the launch of Cosmopolitan Magazine in Spain, making sure only raisins in small red boxes were stocked in a green room for a pop star in Cannes France and sending British sports cars home with people as part of a direct marketing campaign. She won’t bore you with anything else here. She graduated from Syracuse University, and obtained her graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University. She resides in New York City with her husband, knitting and waiting for her children to come home from college to visit.
Known as one of the world’s leading experts in diamond jewelry manufacturing and as a savvy trend tracker with boundless energy, Phyllis Bergman has created a thriving brand that puts classic elegance, with a contemporary twist, in reach of the modern bride. Named Manufacturer of the Year and inductee into the Women’s Jewelry Association Hall Of Fame, honored by the American Gem Society as a Triple Zero winner, recognized by Enterprising Women Magazine, her designs selected by Rachel Zoe and Vera Wang for their” Must Have“ lists, spokesperson for the Platinum Guild, Bergman has earned herself a well deserved, highly respected and unique reputation as a business woman who, if not serving as president or chairman, holds positions on every meaningful board in the jewelry industry. As a result of her relationships and vast experience, she brings a great sense of style, knowledge and insight to her designs.
Alexandra Cunningham Cameron
Alexandra Cunningham Cameron is a curator, writer and content advisor based in New York. Her work has generated a broad range of cultural experiences that advance a critical dialogue around the arts, cultivate international audiences, and create platforms for designers. After sitting at the helm of Design Miami as Creative Director, Cunningham Cameron now serves as its Curatorial Advisor. Dividing her time between both New York and Miami, she is also EIC of the Miami Rail.
Elliot Carlyle is a New York City-based branding & creative consultant, empowerment speaker, executive & life coach, author, marketplace ministry leader and philanthropist; widely known as the “the brand. the voice.” His work spans the fashion, creative, business, and lifestyle sectors, serving as an industry expert to A-list brands and multi-millionaire personalities, as well as a voice of empowerment, motivation, and inspiration. He is also recognized for his extensive knowledge and insight in the areas of entrepreneurship, leadership, personal growth & development, and influence.
Elliot has seamlessly navigated multiple facets and roles throughout his professional career including working in event production, public relations, creative direction, and media services. He has an earned BFA in Fashion & Retail Management and formerly worked in an executive capacity with award-winning creator of New York Fashion Week & international consultant, Fern Mallis. He is currently the Director of Cultural Diversity and Inclusion for New York City Jewelry Week as well as Creative Consultant to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
Fueled by his personal mission and brand statement, “empowering people to turn up the volume in life and business,” Elliot has created platforms to build and equip 21st century visionaries; dubbing his audience of creatives, entrepreneurs, ministry leaders, artists, philanthropists and the like as “fellow architects”; people who are actively building dreams, visions, goals, purpose and destiny. He is the author of The Influence Workbook, written to equip personal and corporate audiences with clarifying keys, liberating exercises, and empowering takeaways that will position you on a trajectory to get to your “next” by moving you beyond the questions and unblocking your personal power. As he continues to evolve, Elliot is committed to being “the voice,” coaching people to discover their voice, increase their success frequency, and amplify their influence.
Alex Darby is a speculative jeweler, creative producer, organizational strategist, and entrepreneur. She helps build organizations, start ups and independent businesses in the hospitality, tech, art, and creative sectors, and supporting artistic and creative practice is central to her work. She was previously Director of Strategic Operations at NEW INC, the New Museum’s incubator for art, technology, and design and is the founder of Darby Studios, and interdisciplinary studio that delivers events, creative, and a jewelry and streetwear line. She is also the Co-creator of Frend of a Frend, a digital community for independent artists, and creative entrepreneurs, and the curator behind The Jewelry Phone.
Trained as a traditional craft practitioner through the formalist lens of jewelry design, Darby’s speculative jewelry practice critiques notions of value through material explorations and marriages uncommon to the logic of form and permanence of traditional jewelry making. Her work blurs lines between traditional and non traditional materials, combining them in new and playful forms; diamonds and sugar, plastic engagement rings, fake gold, fake gems, fake everything. She critiques the medium through form itself. Darby is an artist, and jewelry is both the medium, and the subject.
Karen Davidov is the founder of The Jewelry Library, a research and gallery space in New York City that hosts a wide range of exhibitions, talks and events all across the jewelry-spectrum, collaborating with both contemporary and vintage gallerists, artists and collectors, as well as storytellers, historians, makers and wearers. As an independent curator and public art producer, Karen worked with local artists and community institutions such as New York City Public Schools, DC Public Libraries and The American University of Central Asia. In addition, she recently launched an educational initiative that teaches curatorial practice to public librarians. Karen began her career as a 20th century decorative arts dealer and theater producer.
Helen DruttHonorary Committee Member
Helen W. Drutt English (Helen Drutt) was Founder/Director of her eponymous gallery in Philadelphia (1973-2002), which was among the first galleries in the United States to make a commitment to the modern and contemporary craft movement. In 1973, she developed the first syllabus for a college-level course in the history of the field. She has received numerous awards and two honorary degrees. H.D. is a trustee of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and Fellow of the American Craft Council. Drutt has built a permanent collection of contemporary crafts for The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. She is married to H. Peter Stern, co-founder of Storm King Art Center.
Tanya Dukes is a New York City-based writer, editor and stylist. She landed her first journalistic dream job when she joined the staff of private jet lifestyle magazine Elite Traveler, eventually becoming the publication’s first-ever Style Editor. Her responsibilities included styling top models in high jewelry and couture from leading fashion brands and covering runway collections in Paris, Milan and New York. Later she became Accessories Editor of Brides magazine and Senior Editor for two affiliated publications focused exclusively on the jewelry industry, INDESIGN and INSTORE magazines. She has been recognized as a leading expert and writer in the fine jewelry category and her work has been recognized with the Women’s Jewelry Association Award for Excellence in Editorial and a Folio: Eddie Award. She records her calendar of jewelry adventures on Instagram at @tanyadukes
Deirdre Featherstone is an award-winning private jeweler based in NYC, known for her bold use of color and love of platinum. Featherstone stepped from the world of antiques into the world of fine jewelry in 1985: formerly an antique auctioneer, she appreciates the value and aesthetic of exquisitely beautiful things, but as a motorcycle and classic car enthusiast, she understands that even the most stunning things need to run smoothly and feel right. She prioritizes engineering jewelry for convertibility, comfort, and beauty.
Featherstone has received ten American Gem Trade Association Spectrum Awards and judged the 2016 Awards. She was named a “Master American Platinumsmith” by Platinum Guild International and speaks at platinum and jewelry forums. This year, she introduced a permanent collection at the Bergdorf Goodman Fine Jewelry Salon.
As co-owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers in downtown New York City, Jennifer leads the store’s creative vision and marketing strategy. A graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology, she previously worked in marketing and public relations for luxury fashion and prestige cosmetics brands. In 2003 she entered the family business, infusing it with the marketing ingenuity she’d cultivated. As a result, the store’s star began to rise as the mission of innovation and curation made G.St, a prominent destination for designer fine jewelry.
Today, Jennifer proudly champions the work of independent designers and is constantly on the hunt for fresh, distinctive points of view. In 2018, she and sister/co-owner Christina Gambale were recognized by the Women’s Jewelry Association with the Award for Excellence in Retail. Keeping pace with today’s ever-changing consumer tastes and values, Jennifer and her team specialize in luxurious, artisan-crafted jewelry made with responsibly sourced materials. Sustainability is one of the benchmarks of the brand and in 2019, G.St Ceremony, a “responsibly sourced, mindfully made” wedding collection created by the sisters was launched. Made in New York of recycled metals and ethically sourced diamonds and gems, G. St Ceremony is the culmination of exacting design and standards led by Jennifer.
Always one to speak to the heart of an issue, Jennifer is a sought after industry panelist and contributor to trade publications. She currently sits on the advisory board of NYC Jewelry Week, the Couture Diversity Action Council and dedicates her time to mentorship and philanthropic causes. A deep, spiritual thinker and advocate for social change, her mission is simple: to help customers express their truth through adornment.
A genuine style insider, Karen Giberson has years of experience in merchandising, marketing and public relations. As President of the Accessories Council, she is charged with being a voice for the industry and leading efforts to assist members with sales and awareness. She runs the esteemed ACE Awards, one of the fashion industries leading event. Karen is an active consultant and has lent her keen perception of the fashion retail industry for a variety of companies including QVC, EVINE, Estee Lauder, Jack Rogers, Anomaly, ill.i and the CLE of India. She is a graduate of Susquehanna University and is currently a Wharton Fellow. Karen’s professional affiliations include: Member Fashion Service Network, Board of Directors of the Gibson Foundation, FIT Accessory Advisory Board Chairperson, Fashion Service Network Board Member and a member of the Fashion Group.
Barbara Paris Gifford is an Assistant Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City with a focus on contemporary jewelry and fashion. She oversees MAD’s esteemed jewelry collection and has served as part of the curatorial team for several exhibitions, including Robert Baines: Fake News and True Love; La Frontera: Encounters Along the Border; Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture and Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime is Beautiful… Gifford is currently curating two upcoming MAD exhibitions: The World of Anna Sui, which opens in September, 2019, and 45 Stories in Jewelry, a permanent collection exhibition opening in February, 2020. She has written for many publications including Metalsmith Magazine, Modern Magazine, The Journal of Modern Craft, and theAmerican Society of Jewelry Historians and for the catalogues La Frontera: Encounters Along the Border, Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, and Ralph Pucci: The Art of The Mannequin. She holds a Master of Arts degree in the History of the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture from the Bard Graduate Center. She was invited to as a guest speaker at Zimmerhoff early this year.
Alex Gilbert is a design professional with experience in the media, tech, gallery, and auction industries. She specializes in strategically developing business opportunities and generating revenue for startup and existing businesses and is currently the Associate Director at Friedman Benda in New York City.
Melanie Grant has been a journalist for over 20 years having worked at The Times, The Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The BBC and now The Economist where she writes, edits, styles and art directs luxury content for 1843 Magazine, the lifestyle sister publication. Her specialist subject is jewelry as art and commodity and in Oct 2020 this culminated in her first book COVETED.
Mahnaz Ispahani, a New Yorker, founded and directs the eponymous collection. Her eye was educated through early exposure to fine, traditional South Asian yellow gold jewelry, enamel work, and gemstones including Swat emeralds, Burmese rubies, Afghan lapis lazuli, and Persian turquoise. Mahnaz was raised in an environment rich and varied in its cultural, artistic and architectural influences, from the Mughal, Persian, and western Modernist worlds. She has traveled extensively and lived deeply in several cultures, finding special joy in the beauty of landscape – especially that of the American southwest – and in small, sculptural objects.
Mahnaz is a scholar, who holds a doctorate in international relations. Her research training is reflected in the ways she collects and curates jewelry. Following a long career in foreign affairs, she established MAHNAZ COLLECTION.
The award-winning creator and organizer of Fashion Week in New York and cities across the globe, Fern Mallis has been an industry game changer in the world of fashion and design for more than 35 years. A former senior vice president of IMG Fashion and executive director of CFDA, she is the author of Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis, published by Rizzoli, which features no-holds-barred interviews, combined with never-before-seen personal photographs from interviewees such as Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Betsey Johnson, Polly Mellen, Bruce Weber and more. She is currently the president of her own leading international fashion and design consultancy, Fern Mallis LLC.
A born and raised New Yorker, Morgan Amelia Miller began laying the foundation of her passion for fine jewelry at a young age. She attended the United Nations International School, before going on to study photography and art at Sarah Lawrence College. Morgan cut her teeth in the art world, participating in the success of several renowned galleries throughout New York City, before being recruited to head up the wholesale sales and merchandising of a major fine jewelry brand. It was in this position, where Morgan opened international accounts including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Lido, that she first discovered her love of fine jewelry.
Morgan began consulting with a number of jewelry brands, and later accepted a position with designer Satomi Kawakita before she began her tenure at COUTURE. Morgan describes her current position as Senior Account Executive at The COUTURE Show as “a dream come true.” Her work alongside a team of equally dedicated professionals has given her the voice and platform to champion design on global scale, and is representative of her core beliefs—community, integrity, creativity and empowerment.
Morgan currently sits on the National Board of Directors for the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) and is the chair of the organization’s Diversity Committee. She is a dedicated collector of art, a self-described foodie, and she lives in the Catskill Mountains in New York State with her English husband, and their rescue dog Otto.
Sonia has worked in the fashion industry for 18 years focusing on product development, production and operations. Her work in larger corporations like Polo Jeans Co., Liz Claiborne, and Cole Haan provided great foundation to leverage in smaller companies where she was responsible for strategizing, building the right relationships, as well as setting up the right supply chain. She currently works at New York City Economic Development Corporation where she leads the fashion initiatives as the Assistant Vice President on the Creative and Applied Tech team.
Sienna Patti opened Sienna Patti Contemporary in 1999 and specializes in contemporary avant-garde studio jewelry and artists that use craftsmanship as an intellectual and structural vehicle for their ideas. A leading figure in studio jewelry, Patti has lectured and presented artists and designers in major museums and events around the world. As an appraiser and dealer she has world with and place pieces artists in many collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Museum of Modern Art in New York; Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Smithsonian Institution, D.C; Museum of Art And Design, New York; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Musee de Louvre, Paris; Philadelphia Museum of Art.
For over 10 years, Filecellia A. Sampson has been an experienced Communications Professional, and Specialty Retail liaison for both the brand and trade side of the jewelry industry. Driven by her passion for education and community, Sampson takes pride in understanding the importance of inclusion for all deserving a seat at a currently underrepresented table. In her interest to support small business, she works avidly to cultivate profitable and sustainable relationships between retail store owners and fresh talented designers. Whether Sampson is managing brand studio operations, leading sales training seminars or running a trade show, she continues to be an effective resource to this industry and beyond.
I am a jewelry, fashion and fine art photographer based in New York City…
I shoot campaigns, product and still life photography for both well-established brands and fledgeling start-ups.
Prior to opening my own business as a commercial photographer, I spent years working as a freelance photojournalist with a focus on human rights concerns. In 2014 I had my first solo exhibition of photoessays from Bosnia, entitled “Love and War in Sarajevo.”
After moving to New York, I gained invaluable experience working for photographers such as Steve McCurry and eventually became a producer for fashion and editorial photo shoots.
I take great joy in bringing my client’s vision to life and fostering an atmosphere of creative energy and spirit with my talented team of assistants, hair and makeup artists. I am blessed with an outstanding group of clients and an exceptional team, and I view each project as a collaboration. My work has been published in Vogue, British Vogue, Town and Country, The New York Times, National Jeweler and Forbes Magazine.
I was born in the former Yugoslavia to Bosnian parents and grew up in Germany. I graduated from Indiana University, where I studied photojournalism, public relations, and fine art photography.
Mark Smelzer is the Chief Content Executive at Jewelers Mutual Insurance. In this role, Mark oversees the production of all content used by the organization for branding, traffic building, data acquisition and more. Mark is currently working on the launch of a brand publication to support JM’s jewelry retailer platform, Zing. Titled “The Zing Report: Celebrating our Industry”, the publication will highlight the many wonderful aspects of our industry and our community. From 2004 to 2021, Mark was the publisher of JCK magazine and JCKonline. As publisher, Mark oversaw the business side of the industry’s oldest trade publication. At JCK, Mark oversaw the evolution from print to digital, and the launch of the JCK Content Studio, an in-house content marketing agency. Mark received his undergraduate degree in political science from UCLA, and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He, his husband Eric, and their son Nolen reside in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Emily Stoehrer
Dr. Emily Stoehrer is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a Visiting Lecturer in the History of Art department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. At the MFA Emily oversees a collection that spans nine curatorial departments and 6,000 years of history. She has curated exhibitions and written on various aspects of adornment—most recently she co-curated “Boston Made: Arts & Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork” (MFA, 2018 – 2020) and contributed to Winged Beauty: The Butterflies of Wallace Chan (ACC Art Books, 2021) and the Journal of Dress History (Spring 2021). As an educator, Emily has lectured and taught on a diverse range of jewelry, fashion, and design related topics. She holds a PhD in Humanities from Salve Regina University and a Master of Arts in Fashion & Textile Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology. A leader in the field, Emily chairs the vetting committee for The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) and formerly served on the board of directors for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).
Michael Toback, current President of Myron Toback, Inc, grew up in the jewelry business. His family’s business, started by his father Myron in 1963, was a passion from an early age. Forty years in, Michael’s involvement in the industry has expanded well beyond the brick and mortar which still operates out of the Diamond District, which serves not only as a hub of the industry within the city, but also as a launch pad and source of continued support for many of NYC’s most prolific jewelers. Michael currently serves on the executive board of the 47th Street B.I.D. and the MJSA, where he also sits as Treasurer. He was the chairman of the 24KT Club of the City of New York where he is a current active member,, a founding Member of Jewelers for Veterans, and on the Nominating Committee of Jewelers Board of Trade, in addition to many more. Often called upon for his expertise and knowledge of the NYC jewelry industry, Michael has been called to lecture at FIT, SVA, Parsons School of Design, The Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A New York City native, Jade is a self-identified 47th Street girl. It’s where she feels at home and it’s in her blood; it’s where the artistry of jewelry making starts and where her familial legacy began. Starting her career as a diamond buyer, Jade’s holistic understanding of the diamond sourcing process plays a pivotal role in how she discerningly selects her stones for each collection. While Jade is usually seen wearing a rotating collection of her designs, the one piece she never leaves at home is her loupe.
After years of experiencing traditional designs that eventually came to feel generic, Jade felt the jewelry world was in need of a new direction and started her own line. She often refers to the three great loves of her life: her twin teenage sons and her company, Jade Trau. Like with her children, Jade devotes the same care and nurture to her company and to each piece she creates. From the meticulous selection of her diamonds to the process of crafting the perfect setting to compliment them, Jade’s intimate connection with her designs allows her to tap into a unique market of fine jewelry – pieces that stand out, but still feel authentic; they are easy to wear and feel almost like a second skin. Jade’s philosophy is that diamonds are meant to be worn, and if they are not being loved, she aims to breathe new life into old designs with her collections and restyling projects- especially those with stories embedded in them. Jade Trau is the new ‘diamond classic.’
Michele Varian is a design company of home decorative accessories which are sold at stores around the US, Canada and Europe. Michele Varian has a brick and mortar store at 27 Howard Street in NYC’s Soho.
The Michele Varian shop is a favorite among editors, interior designers and loyal shoppers alike. It is an oasis of unusual and charming objects that all fit a cultivated aesthetic. The Michele Varian shop is a destination for many to see what is the latest and newest in home design. The Michele Varian collections of decorative pillows, lighting and wallpapers are designed by Michele and are mostly made locally, to ensure 100% quality control of the hand-crafted and detail oriented pieces.
Michele is a designer who loves being surrounded by provocative and beautiful things. Especially if they have elements of historical, natural or social references. If they’re just a little bit funny, that’s a bonus. Her shop feels like a home filled with personal curiosities. Sometimes folks want to move in.
Stellene Volandes was named editor-in-chief of Town & Country in 2016. Before that, she had been style director at the magazine since March 2012, shaping the fashion and society features each month in a role that gave her a significant hand in developing the magazine’s journalistic range and stable of contributors. Previously, Volandes was style editor for Departures, where she assigned and edited all fashion and jewelry features. Volandes is a graduate of Vassar College, with a master’s degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University. Her book, Jeweler: Masters, Mavericks, and Visionaries of Modern Design, was published in 2016 by Rizzoli.
Jonathan Wahl’s art work ranges from drawing and sculpture to the decorative arts. His work has been featured or reviewed in publications as diverse as The New York Times, Art in America, The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Metalsmith magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and the Advocate, among others. Wahl has been awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships one for Craft and one for Drawing and the Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths Award for “Outstanding Achievement.” Part of the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine and the Museum of Arts of Arts and Design in NYC, he was named one of the top-10 jewelers to watch by W Jewelry in 2006. He has served as the Director of the Jewelry Center at the 92nd Street Y since 1999 and has guided the Center’s growth to become that largest program of its kind in the nation and the oldest open studio in NYC.
Erin S. Daily and Brian Weissman
Erin S. Daily and Brian Weissman co-founded Brooklyn Metal Works in 2011, a co-working metalsmithing studio, education lab, and exhibition space. This collaborative setting is designed to foster exploration, encourage experimentation, and strengthen the knowledge of all involved. The BKMW community supports an extensive cross-section of the NYC jewelry world building opportunities for artists and the public to engage. The studio brings in visiting artists to teach special topics in metal and jewelry, co-produces courses with other material disciplines like UrbanGlass, exhibits contemporary jewelry otherwise unseen in NYC, and hosts an artist lecture series promoting the world’s best contemporary jewelers. Since 2003 Erin and Brian have taught jewelry and metalsmithing extensively along the East Coast and continue to develop and teach innovative programming at Brooklyn Metal Works. They maintain their studio and art making practices at BKMW and their work can be seen both nationally and internationally.
A native of Germany, Katrin Zimmermann studied and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia before setting up her studio in Harlem. Educated in Switzerland, England, China and the United States, she graduated first from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS London) with a degree in Chinese and Art History, then went on to study jewelry design at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The focus of her design aesthetic is reduction: the emphasis on the essence of a stone, an organic shape or the inherent qualities of a material, synthetic or natural. The result is a line of progressive sterling silver and acrylic art jewelry that is architectural, minimalist and modern. Katrin founded Ex Ovo in 1992. She is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). She is also a Professor at New York’s Pratt Institute. She has shown her collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, The Museum of Arts and Design in New York and the Smithsonian Institute of Washington DC.