The National Jewelry Institute (NJI) was formed in 2002 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, research, and exhibit fine jewelry from all over the world. Jewelry is much more than simply an accessory or a luxury of high society - like all true art it can be a remarkable expression of an entire culture. NJI has staged jewelry exhibitions in New York, London, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago and Pittsburgh which feature such masterpieces of art.
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Jewelry Houses Put on Rare Show of Unity at Louvre Gala
By Joelle Diderich
July 7, 2015
PARIS -- It took an outsider to achieve the unthinkable: Gathering major jewelry houses under one roof during Paris Couture Week.
That is what Judith Price, president of the U.S. National Jewelry Institute, did with the gala dinner at the Louvre museum on Monday night for the inaugural edition of an awards ceremony distinguishing the best pieces produced by leading fine jewelry and watch brands.
The evening's hosts, Princess Tatiana and Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, were last-minute no-shows due to the crisis in Greece.
Most of the host committee attended: Francesca Amfitheatrof, design director of Tiffany & Co.;
London-based jeweler Solange Azagury-Partridge; Paris-based jeweler Lorenz Baumer; and Bulgari creative director Lucia Silvestri. Pierre Hardy, creative director of fine jewelry at Hermes, was the notable exception.
Also on hand were Juliette Binoche, Louis Vuitton chief executive officer Michael Burke, Bulgari ceo Jean-Christophe Babin and socialites Lilly zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Susan Gutfreund.
"I kind of think it's amazing. It never happens," Amfitheatrof said as guests mingled above the central atrium of the museum's modernist pyramid. She noted her longstanding friendships with Azagury-Partridge and the Bulgari family.
Despite this, the designer professed not to pay attention to the competition. "I always want to look forward, so I never look at what other people are doing, because I think it's in the past," Amfitheatrof said.
Baumer said he was focusing on his own business after spending more than two decades designing for the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton. "I want to do more of what I like and what I want to do for myself. I don't wanted to be bothered by marketing, and I think even customers feel that way today," he said.
Nonetheless, he echoed Amfitheatrof's sentiment. "I think it's great that everyone is talking to each other," said Baumer. "Economically, France is not a country where people wear a lot of jewelry, where there are a lot of buyers, but it remains the center of jewelry and it's thanks to initiatives like this."
Guests enjoyed a three-course meal prepared by Michelin-starred chef Eric Frechon, including a chocolate dessert shaped like a cocoa pod.
For Price, it was the culmination of nine months' work. "A baby's been born," she said as she greeted guests. The previous day, certificates were handed to the 39 houses distinguished for their design, creativity and innovation at a cocktail held at the Bristol hotel.
The initiative was born of a partnership between the National Jewelry Institute and the Parsons School of Design that will also include weeklong courses in Paris in September and New York in October called "The Fine Art of High Jewelry and Timepieces."
Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons, said the collaboration was a first step toward resuming the school's jewelry design programs, but with a fresh approach.
"The materials and the craftsmanship are being challenged by all sorts of issues around sustainability and labor, and really interesting value questions that are starting to redefine luxury itself," he noted.
"Jewelry is a space that we can reenter now with new technologies and new materials and produce really beautiful objects of high value that are also meeting the criteria of the 21st century. So it's the right time to get back into it," he added.
New Event in Paris to Honor Watches and Jewelry
By KATHLEEN BECKETT
MAY 13, 2015
Judith Price says she is on a mission: "To bring some excitement to the world of jewelry and watches. There's so much attention to fashion, with fashion weeks all over the world," but jewelry and watches are left behind. So as president of the National Jewelry Institute, she is teaming with Parsons School of Design to do something about it.
On July 5, the opening night of Couture Week in Paris, the two organizations will introduce the High Jewelry and Timepieces Awards at the Hotel Le Bristol.
"It's not a competition between the houses but a recognition of what is best within each house," Ms. Price explained. The honorees will include as many as 40 different houses or brands, including Bulgari, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Chopard, Dior and Graff.
The awards will be celebrated the following evening at a dinner at the Louvre ("because jewelry is an extension of the decorative arts," Ms. Price said). Prince Nikolaos of Greece and his wife, Princess Tatania, will be the hosts.
The judges include Beatrix Saule, curator-in-chief of the Chateau de Versailles; Aymeric Zublena, president of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris; the author and historian Vincent Meylan; Benjamin Clymer, founder of the online watch magazine Hodinkee; Joel Towers, dean of the Parsons design school; and Ms. Price. Ms. Price's efforts to elevate consumers' appreciation of jewelry and watches will go beyond the awards: this fall the jewelry institute and Parsons will inaugurate their first watch and jewelry courses in Paris and New York.