Chicago

The WJA Chicago Chapter focuses on helping members advance and develop careers in the jewelry and watch industry. Throughout the year, we host educational and social events with opportunities to network and to learn more about various facets of the industry.

Our members come from both city and suburbs. They include a mix of those involved in retail and wholesale businesses, design, marketing, sales, support services, and other aspects of the industry. To facilitate professional growth of members, the chapter supports and promotes grants and scholarships, offers opportunities for mentoring, and participates in national and chapter recognition programs.
 

UPCOMING CHICAGO CHAPTER EVENTS


We are planning upcoming events and will post details and registration links when they are available.

 

COVID-19


We have resumed some in-person events and are mindful of Covid-19 precautions and will continue with some virtual events too. 

WJA has put together webinars and other resources available to help during this time. 



Also, many local chapters are opening their virtual events to others. New ones are added often. Check the Event Calendar to find events that interest you.

 

PHOTO GALLERY OF cHICAGO cHAPTER eVENTS

 


 

aBOUT pAST CHICAGO CHAPTER EVENTS


Responsibly Sourced Sapphires:
A lunchtime chat with Eric Braunwart of Columbia Gem House
 

On Septermber, 29, 2021,  Eric Braunwart, President of Columbia Gem House, shared his insights from personal experience in responsibly sourcing sapphires from Australia, Malawi, Montana and more. He has 45 years in the industry and 20 years building the world’s first and largest transparent gemstone supply chain. He talked through practices you can look for, where to find sapphires produced in this way, and who you should be asking what questions when you’re looking to buy. Columbia Gem House sponsored the event. (Email: information@columbiagemhouse.com  Websitehttps://columbiagemhouse.com/)


Jewelry Night Out 2021

On September 9, 2021, WJA Chicago hosted our first in-person event in a year and a half. We gathered among the flowers at City Grange, a plant and flower shop, in Lincoln Square, Chicago … with food, drinks, great music, and plenty of space to mingle outside. We caught up with old friends, met new ones, and enjoyed being together as a Chicago jewelry community! And this year at JNO, we were pleased to present Best in Chicago awards to some of our community.


A Conversation about Freshwater Pearls
with Eve Alfillé

On June 29, 2021, we gathered online at lunchtime to learn about freshwater pearls with award-winning designer and our resident expert on pearls — Eve Alfillé, owner of Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio. Eve talked about their history, how they are cultivated, and why they're so popular. She showed samples to share from her vast collection at the gallery!

For more information about Eve and her gallery, visit her website, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you to Eve Alfillé for sponsoring this event!




A 3-session Business Series
Arming You with Tools to Succeed!

Our 2021 In The Know included 3 business-related events each event started with a Mix & Mingle with a special cocktail recipes to enjoy during the presentation and themed jewelry to wear. 

SESSION 1
What You Need to Know for the Next Era
in Small Business Marketing

May 6th at 6:00 PM CDT

with Andrea Hill

   

On May 6, 2021, we met online for this first event of the ITK Business Series. It started with a Mix & Mingle, followed by a presentation by Andrea Hill, owner of Hill Management Group LLC (which includes the brands StrategyWerx, MentorWerx, and WerxMarketing). Andrea shared the building blocks of marketing for the new normal and some ways to help find and keep new customers.


SESSION 2

Navigating Social Media & Content Creation

May 13th at 6:00 PM CDT

with Alaina Clarke



On May 13, 2021, we met online for the second event of the ITK Business Series. It started with a Mix & Mingle, followed by a presentation by Alaina Clarke. Alaina discussed platforms to use, how often to post, what to post, tips about how to post, the difference between "stories" and "news feed," and ideas about creating content.

SESSION 3
Business Plan Basics: How to Set Goals and Take Action

May 26th at 4:00 PM CDT

with Hilary Halstead Scott

       

On May 26, 2021, we met online we met online for the second event of the ITK Business Series. It started with a Mix & Mingle, followed by a presentation by Hilary Halstead Scott, President of Halstead, a full service jewelry supply firm that caters to both large and small studios. She said that having a solid business plan prepared for your jewelry company is crucial to success. This session focused on helping small business owners create a robust jewelry business plan to use when applying for loans or for strategic planning to help build the business. Hilary introduced us to Jewelry Business Plan Toolkit developed by Halstead. It is an interactive guide that walks you through a12-step process with everything needed to create your jewelry business plan in one place. It is available for free on the Halstead website.

Thank you to our In the Know sponsors:

Halstead Bead

StrategyWerx


Spring Bling: Mix & Mingle

On April 28, 2921, we met online for a virtual mix and mingle happy hour. In addition to time networking and catching up with jewelry peers, participants were invited to wear a favorite piece of jewelry that represents spring and to share its story with the group!

Professional Looking Photos with a Smartphone

Presented by Janelle Hinesley
Sponsored by Halstead

On March 30, 2021, Halstead’s Senior Graphic Designer and Photographer, Janelle Hinesely, presented an overview of how to use a smartphone to take professional quality photos for your jewelry business. It included:
  • How to setup your jewelry photos.
  • Tips for lighting.
  • How to edit your photos.
  • Recommendations for a few free apps.

Colored Gemstone Saturation and Pricing — 
The Factors

Presented by Richard Drucker

On February 25, 2021, we gathered online for a dazzling presentation by Richard Drucker about colored gemstone, including saturation, windowing, extinction, and more. He also talked about some interesting new developments and how labs are influencing this C, making it harder, not easier to interpret and sell or appraise.

Richard Drucker, GIA GG, is the president of Gemworld International, Inc., in Glenview, Illinois. His credentials include: Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America; Honorary Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain; Senior Member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers; Senior Gemologist, Accredited Gemologists Association.


An Evening with Fred Zweig
Metalsmith, Teacher & Collector

On November 12, 2020, we met online for An Evening with Fred Zweig. Fred did a show & tell presentation in which he shared a curated assortment of pieces from his private collection, focusing on Japanese Damascene, Arts & Crafts and the Modernist Movement periods.



Speaker



Fred Zweig is a metalsmith, teacher, and collector. A self-taught metalsmith and a teacher for over 40 years, Fred has a passion for paying homage to those who preceded him. 


Virtual Happy Hour

On October 22, 2020, we met online for a virtual mix and mingle happy hour.
WJA Jewelry Night In 2020

An all-chapter online event … followed by a Chicago Chapter
breakout session 


On September 10, 2020, we celebrated WJA Jewelry Night Out In. This year the annual event started with a Zoom call that brought together WJA members and prospective members from around the world to celebrate jewelry and share the value of being part of the WJA community. Guest speaker for the all-chapter event was Caryl Capeci, CEO of Chow Tai Fook/Hearts On Fire. She shared an inspiring message about leadership and the importance of community and mentorship.

The evening wrapped up with a Chicago Chapter breakout session, giving us a chance to connect with those from the Chicago area. We also did a fun and fast-paced online scavenger hunt! At the end of the evening, we did a drawing for a free membership!
A Peek into the Vault!

What's Inside Susan Wheeler's Safe?

On August 27, 2020, we had the opportunity to see some amazing gems that Susan Wheeler, of Susan Wheeler Design and Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, has stored in her vault! Susan showed us a myriad of stones she has as well as some projects she has in process.

Mix and Mingle Chicago
On August 8, 2020, we met online for a virtual mix and mingle happy hour. In addition to time networking and catching up with jewelry peers, participants showed interesting pieces of jewelry and shared stories about the pieces with the group. 


Virtual Studio Tours!
On July 23, 2020, three of our members conducted virtual tours of their personal jewelry studios. They showed how their workspaces are arranged, pointed out favorite tools, and answered questions about their studios and their businesses.


Via a Zoom call …
Virtual Happy Hour

On July 28, 2020, we met online for a virtual mix and mingle happy hour.


The History of Jewelry in the Age of Modernism:
Women as Makers

In the 20th century, the role of jewelry transformed mere objects of vanity into modern expressions of personal, social and economic change. As an indicator or 'antenna' of the times, it is no coincidence that many women were designing and making these objects which would prove useful in the creation of a new independent female identity. 
 
On our webinar on June 25, 2020, Kathleen Baum presented an inspirational talk about how key female designers such as Marianne Brandt, Elisabeth Treskow, Margaret de Patta and many others who pioneered the breaking of gender stereotypes in the jewelry studio. 
Speaker
Kathleen Baum has been teaching jewelry making, art and fashion history at the College of DuPage for over 25 years. Her course ‘Body Art through the Ages’ explores the meaning of adornment through multiple cultures and traditions.



Kathleen Baum
College of DuPage


Do I Have to be Naked to Get in Here? 
Women in Museums — More Paintings than Painters


Historically, and still today, for every score of paintings of naked women you see in a museum, you'll be lucky to see even one painting by a woman. While many female artists have been rediscovered in the last few decades, they’re still a ways behind in being feted, displayed in museums, and taught with the same regard as their male counterparts. 
 
On our webinar on May 21, Dominique Larson presented an overview of a few of brilliant women painters (from the past and in the present), the works they did, and the lives they led (scandals included). 


Dominique Larson
B.F.A.​


Relief Efforts for Artisanal Gemstone Miners

How can you help artisanal gemstone mining communities
during Covid-19?

On our webinar on May 6, 2020, Monica Stephenson and WJA Chicago's Susan Wheeler answered that question. Monica described how Gem Legacy is enacting relief efforts in Tanzania and Kenya. Susan Wheeler shared about all of the initiatives listed on the Gemstone Covid Relief Hub and the Zambia Action Plan.

They discussed the rising problems with food insecurity that the women miners are facing and provided insight into how these women are affected during the pandemic and the struggles to support their families. Actionable initiatives are being formed that want you to engage in relief efforts. Gem Legacy has already enacted successful food drives in East Africa and the ad hoc supply chain forming in Zambia to help miners. Proceeds were donated between Gem Legacy and The Responsible Jewelry Transformative.

Monica Stephenson
ANZA Gems


Susan Wheeler
The Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference
& Susan Wheeler Design


Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art
Learning by Exploring Exhibits and
Viewing Lapidary Treasures

On Sunday, February 23, 2020, we visited the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art at it's new location in Oak Brook, IL. The Lizzadro Museum, established in 1962, displays gemstone treasures, antiques to modern, with a blending of earth science exhibits. It has an extraordinary collection of gems, hardstone carvings, rocks and minerals from around the world. After exploring the exhibits, we gathered for lunch at a nearby restaurant. 



Mix & Mingle

On January 29, 2020, we gathered at the Queen Mary Tavern in Chicago for a casual get together to chat jewelry, network, and meet new friends!



Presentation with Brian Cook:

Paraiba Tourmaline 
and Bahia Rutilated Quartz

On Monday, October 28, 2019, we gathered to learn about the history and current sourcing of Brazilian Paraiba Tourmaline and Bahia Rutilated Quartz from expert Brian Cook. Brian Cook has been involved in “Paraiba” tourmaline mines from 1988 to present. In 1989, he established Nature’s Geometry Inc. with his wife Kendra, as a jewelry design, manufacture and lapidary arts business. In 2016, he was an AGTA Spectrum Winner for the Fashion Forward category. An early advocate of responsible sourcing, Brian has orchestrated an initiative for an artisanal small-scale mining community in Brazil and is involved in scoping studies to verify and audit stone sourcing in the Amazon basin.


 


Mix & Mingle

On October 10, 2019, we gathered at the Waydown Bar on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel to meet new acquaintances, catch up with friends, and enjoy an evening with network peers. 


Jewelry Night Out
On Thursday, September 12, 2019, WJA members and prospective members gathered to celebrate Jewelry Night Out, the WJA annual membership drive. We gathered at Gallery 2052 for the celebration. In addition to enjoying networking, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and live music, we had the opportunity to have a complimentary headshots (valued at $125) taken by Kato Photography.


Lyric Opera House Private Tour
 ... followed by networking
On August 6, 2019, WJA members and friends enjoyed the tour of the Chicago Lyric Opera House. A Lyric docent gave us behind-the-scenes insights into the vibrant world of grand opera. We saw the inside of the Art Deco Ardis Krainik Theatre, enjoyed an up-close-and-personal view of the orchestra pit where the acclaimed Lyric Orchestra plays, and toured the backstage area where we will learned about the vast array of skilled professionals who bring operatic stagecraft to life. 


WJA Mix & Mingle

On July 25, 2019, we gathered at the All Together in Chicago for an evening of networking. 


WJA Chicago — In The Know Conference 
Gems & Jewelry Over the Years

Glimpses into Our Industry’s Heritage
On June 27, 2019, WJA Chicago hosted an In The Know Conference. which is part of the WJA Regional Conference Series. The evening began with a fun time of networking and refreshments, followed by presentations from our guest speakers: Rachel Derry (Gem Legacy), Maarten de Witte (Master Diamond Cutter), and Maria Hrycelak (co-president of Kalo Foundation of Park Ridge). Each speaker described how the history behind their respective trades (mining, diamond cutting, and jewelry art craft) has impacted our modern day jewelry industry.



SNAG Gallery Crawl
with WJA Chicago and Ethical Metalsmiths
On May 23, 2019, WJA Chicago and Ethical Metalsmiths hosted a whirlwind evening visiting selected galleries during the SNAG Conference Gallery Crawl. This exploration of the world of art jewelry started at Adorned Spaces at the SNAG Conference in the Palmer House and continued by car to two more galleries, the Vale Craft Gallery and the Japanese Consulate. The evening ended at the Lillstreet Open House.


WJA Chicago Mix & Mingle
Meetup at One of a Kind Show Chicago
On April 26, 2019, WJA Chicago hosted a meetup at the One of a Kind Show staged at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. We gathered at the on-site Patio Cafe for a time of networking.
Participants saw the show before or after our meetup. 


Colored Stone Market Report and Tucson Recap
with Laurie Watt

On March 20, 2019, WJA Chicago hosted a fun evening with Laurie Watt of Mayer & Watt. In her presentation, Laurie spoke about the colored stone market and did a recap of the Tucson AGTA GemFair. She also showed a variety of gemstones available for purchase from Mayer & Watt. 


Wax Carving Workshop 
Creating a Band Ring Out of Hard Wax
On February 28, 2019, those fortunate enough to attend the sold-out event joined WJA Chicago for a fun evening of learning how to create a band ring out of hard wax. Participants learned simple techniques such as carving, building up wax and removing wax. Thanks to Lillstreet Art Center which provided the studio space and supplied the basic tools. Thanks as well to WJA members Pam Robinson and Ann vander Muelen who provided instruction and support to learners during the event. Participants walked away from this workshop with a wax band that can be taken to a casting company to create in metal.


Mix & Mingle
In January 2019, we gathered at the 404 Wine Bar Co. in Chicago for an evening of networking. 


Mix & Mingle
In November 2018, we gathered at the Queen Mary Tavern in Chicago for an evening of networking. 


Pearl Update with Renée Newman
New Types, Fakes, Treatments and Jewelry Styles

On October 22, 2018, WJA Chicago gathered to learn from Renée Newman about what's new related to cultured freshwater pearls, including new types, fakes, treatments, and jewelry styles.


2018 in the Know Conference & Jewelry Night Out
Both events were on September 13, 2018.

in the Know Conference

The in the Know (ITK) Chicago Conference featured a full day dedicated to educational advancement and communal collaboration between peers, speakers, and friends alike. Events included presentations and panel discussions about current topics and trends pertaining to diamonds, colored gemstones, and issues impacting the jewelry industry at large. Esteemed speakers included:

  • Hannah Becker (Creative Director & CEO, Diamondoodles)

  • Brandee Dallow (Fine Girl Luxury Brand)

  • Peggy Jo Donahue, conference moderator (Writer ― Content Creation & Social Networking: Editing, Blogging, Website Writing)

  • Beth Gerstein (Brilliant Earth)

  • Sarah Gorvitz (Diamond Producers Association)

  • Billie Hughes (Lotus Gem•ology)

  • Eryn Patton (Wendy Brandes Jewelry)

  • Louis Price (M. Geller)

  • Shelly Sergent (Somewhere in the Rainbow)

  • Goeffrey Watt (Mayer & Watt)

  • Susan Wheeler (Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference)

  • Sara Yood (Jewelers Vigilance Committee)

Jewelry Night Out

In the evening, WJA Chicago celebrated the annual membership event. We brought together members and others in the jewelry industry to share in their passion for the work they do all year long. Some of the most recent AGTA Spectrum Awards™ winning pieces were on display. We viewed a glass-blowing demonstration by staff of Ignite (the venue for both events).


An Evening with Eve J. Alfillé at Her Gallery
WJA Chicago met with with Eve J. Alfillé in Evanston to tour her gallery, visit her studio, and learn more about pearls.


How to Bid and Win at Auction
hosted by Heritage Auctions Chicag
WJA Chicago welcomed four new and renewing members during the networking session that started the evening. 

During the program Ruth Thuston, Director of Fine Jewelry, described the auction process, how to prepare for an auction, and tips about bidding. Roberta Kramer, Auctioneer and Managing Director, conducted a mock jewelry auction.





Join us!

Become a WJA member.

Membership in Women’s Jewelry Association offers
tools you can use to advance professionally.


Participate with our chapter.

Join us for the fun as we learn, connect, and grow professionally by participating in local educational and networking events. We offer special member pricing for events. 

Attend one of our upcoming events and learn firsthand about the Chicago Chapter.

To learn about becoming
a WJA member and about the Chicago Chapter,
contact Viviana Langhoff 
(our VP Membership) at viviana@adornmentandtheory.com.

 

Connect with us!

       

 

RECOGNITION

Our 2020 
Shining Star!

Jeanette Park

Thank you, Jeanette,
for your extraordinary
volunteer service to
WJA Chicago!

Jeanette Park is the founder and fine jewelry designer of ParkFord.  She is a GIA Diamond Graduate and a member of WJA Chicago.  She served on the WJA Chicago board for 2 years in various positions including Membership Chair and Communications.    

Jeanette has been an asset to the Chicago Chapter. She has had more than one role during her time on the board, excelled at each responsibility, and has gone above and beyond to be a constant presence at events. She has always been willing to take on a new challenge, has been a wealth of information and support for new board members, and is great at brainstorming new and interesting ideas. Thank you, Jeanette!

Previous Chicago Shining Stars

2019 — Pam Robinson
2018 — Susan Wheeler
2017 — Olivia Zale
 

2021 Board


President 
Olivia Zale

President-Elect
Susan Wheeler


Past-President 
Susannne Siegel

Treasurer
Sue Rosengard

Secretary
Stephanie Wishnoff

VP Programming
Pam Robinson

VP Membership
Viviana Langhoff

VP Partnerships
Karla Lewis

Members-At-Large
Nancy Hudson
Dominique Larson


Communications Committee
Nancy Hudson (website)
Dominique Larson (emails)


Events Committee
Pam Robinson
Dominique Larson

 

    Thank You                   
    to Our Sponsors!    

  • Anonymous
  • Diamond Producers Association (DPA)
  • Finest Casting Inc.
  • Gallery 2052
  • Gem 2000
  • Heritage Auctions
  • Jewelers Center at the Mallers Building
  • Jewelers Mutual
  • Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC)
  • Kato Photography
  • Lillstreet Art Center
  • Malca-Amit
  • Mid-States Recycling & Refining
  • N. Green & Sons
  • Platinum Alley
  • Professional Gem Sciences Laboratory (PGSL)