By Michelle Graff
I spent the greater part of the day Monday trying to remove myself from this story.

 Cindy EdelsteinI tried to do what I always do: I made a list of the appropriate people to talk to, I made phone calls, I did research on the individual’s background and career path but, in the end, I just couldn’t do it. I have known and worked with Cindy Edelstein for too long to write an account of her passing from the perspective of those who knew her best without injecting myself.

Cindy was, as we all know, a great advocate for jewelry designers, particularly up-and-coming talent. And she was doing this long before the industry came to the realization that emphasizing the craft is exactly what needs to be done.

She had the ability to recognize talent and potential, essentially what would be “hot,” before anyone else. “Cindy,” her good friend and business partner Andrea Hill told me Monday, “could look at stuff other people dismissed, and she knew it was going to be important.”

She also had another ability, one that is even more difficult to master than being a prognosticator of the popular.

Cindy could tell people exactly what she thought without offending them, and they were better off for it. She knew how to be honest while being nurturing and encouraging at the same time. As someone who manages two young artists of a different kind (writers), I can tell you it’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s not a skill everyone has.

Her brand of tough-yet-tender love was what made her, designer Alex Woo observed, a “fairy godmother” to the industry’s designers, and a great mother to her own daughter, Remy.

“Words cannot describe how much we (the designers) will miss her,” Woo wrote to me.

Words are also not enough for me to express my condolences to Remy, Cindy’s husband Frank and the rest of her family.


Here’s another problem with the story I originally tried to write about Cindy.

Normally when you write a straight news article, particularly an obituary, it’s a very linear form of story-telling: This person worked here from 19XX to 20XX, then moved over to X company where they stayed for the next X years.

But I can’t do that with Cindy because she was everywhere, doing everything at all times. In an age when many people’s social media profile descriptions border on the absurd, Cindy truly was everything she claimed to be—fine jewelry business connector, advocate, teacher and author.

She kept nurturing emerging designers, most recently with JA New York and Couture, while also churning out copy for both this publication and InStore and remaining a very active member of the Women’s Jewelry Association.

None of this, of course, prevented her from also mastering social media, where she ran rings around young and old alike, Instagramming, Facebooking and tweeting regularly. She even, Mark Davidovich told me on the phone Monday, was live-tweeting from the red carpet at the Gem Awards just a few weeks ago.

The last time I saw Cindy was at the very same Gem Awards where Mark was admiring her social media skills.

In true Cindy fashion, she worked the room all night at Cipriani’s, snapping pictures of everybody and sharing them on social media.

Looking back on it now, I realize that Cindy took as much joy in taking those pictures as people did in posing for them, because that’s just the kind of person Cindy was. She found joy not in personal success or happiness, but in securing it for others.

And that’s what is saddest of all—without Cindy, there’s one less truly kind person in the world today.

Goodbye, Cindy, and may God keep you, wherever you are. I hope I said thank you the last time we spoke. If I did not, I am saying it now.

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