Meeting new people and forming meaningful business relationships is the hallmark of the Women's Jewelry Association and its world-wide network of members.
he 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.
Although in-person events are suspended due to Covid-19, WJA has put together a great list of upcoming webinars and other resources available to help during this time.
WebinarRelief Efforts for Artisanal Gemstone Miners
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:
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.
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.
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.
On July 25, 2019, we gathered at the All Together in Chicago for an evening of networking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In January 2019, we gathered at the 404 Wine Bar Co. in Chicago for an evening of networking.
In November 2018, we gathered at the Queen Mary Tavern in Chicago for an evening of networking.
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.
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)
WJA Chicago met with with Eve J. Alfillé in Evanston to tour her gallery, visit her studio, and learn more about pearls.
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.
Women in Museums - More Paintings than Painters?
Join us for the fun as we learn, connect, and grow professionally by participating in local educational and networking events. Venues include wonderful stores, galleries, studios, museums, and other industry-related companies throughout the Chicago area. We offer special member pricing for events.
To learn about becoming
a WJA member and about the Chicago Chapter, contact Jeanette Park (our Membership Chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Hudson (website)
Jeanette Park (emails & event pages)
Jennifer Santi (social media)