Sally Morrison is the recipient of the 2018 Gem Award for Lifetime Achievement. She will be honored at the Gem Awards gala, scheduled to take place Jan. 19, 2018, in New York.
New York--It’s not hard to figure out where Sally Morrison is working.

Just take the most buzzed-about piece on the red carpet, trace it back to the company that supplied the gemstone or metals, and there’ll you’ll find her, working behind the scenes to buoy the public’s appreciation for beautiful gems and jewelry.

Morrison, who started her jewelry career at the Diamond Information Center and has spent the last 15 years marketing fine jewelry, is the 2018 recipient of Jewelers of America’s Gem Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Chosen by the Gem Awards committee, the honor goes to someone who “has accumulated a career’s worth of contributions to the fine jewelry and watch industry,” and set a standard of excellence that inspires.

“We are honored to present the Gem Award for Lifetime Achievement to Sally Morrison, who is so widely respected throughout the industry,” said Norman Miller, Gem Awards chair. “Sally’s work in developing iconic marketing campaigns furthers the Gem Awards’ mission of raising the visibility and status of fine jewelry and watches, making her the perfect recipient of the award.”

For Morrison, who is now working as the director of sales and marketing in the Americas for colored gemstone miner Gemfields, accepting the award brings forth opposing emotions.

First, it’s a little bit uncomfortable to step into the spotlight when one’s entire career has been about staying out of it or, even, making the person operating said spotlight invisible.

“I feel like the most successful accomplishment of a marketing campaign is that it doesn’t reveal the person or the agency behind it,” she said. “For me, it’s always been about trying to be super-effective and not being too obvious in that mix.”

But, on the other hand, there’s the recognition of the fact that the person behind the work does deserve to be commended.

“There have been many times in my career that I probably haven’t, for whatever reason, gotten credit for something I’ve done. And, on that hand, it’s wonderful to be acknowledged.”

Raised in and outside of London, Morrison attended Wadham College in Oxford.

She moved to the United States in 1983 and worked as an au pair before getting a part-time job at the organization that would become amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

She rose to the level of executive vice president of external affairs before leaving in 1998 to become the senior vice president of international publicity at Miramax, working to promote films like “Cider House Rules,” “Kids” and “Scary Movie 2.”

In 2002, Morrison got what would become the first of a string of high-profile jobs heading some of the biggest marketing campaigns in jewelry.

She was appointed director, and then director-in-charge, of the Diamond Information Center (DIC) at advertising agency JWT, the now-defunct entity that served as the marketing arm of De Beers in the United States when anti-trust issues kept the company from operating here directly.

Morrison led the team responsible for pushing De Beers’s ads, complete with the iconic tagline “A Diamond is Forever” (which was the brainchild of another woman, copywriter Frances Gerety), out to the general public.

When De Beers shut down both the DIC and the trade-facing Diamond Promotion Service in 2010, she moved over to serve as the chief marketing officer for the company’s then-new diamond brand, Forevermark.

A year later, Morrison left Forevermark for the World Gold Council, where she became the managing director of jewelry and marketing, launching what is considered one of the--if not the--best digital marketing campaigns in the jewelry space, Love Gold.

Morrison said of all the marketing campaigns she’s worked on in jewelry, Love Gold has been her favorite so far.

“It was the most creative project I was ever given,” she explained.

Handed research and data, Morrison was tasked by David Lamb, then the WGC’s managing director of jewelry, with creating a campaign to reignite interest in gold jewelry among younger consumers, to “assume nothing and go off and do something completely fresh,” she said.

“I felt like I was at ground zero, and we could do anything we wanted. We could be kind of fearless.”

What she and her team came up with was a digital-only campaign that launched on social media before its website was even up and created a worldwide following of more than a million consumers.

The conversation around #LoveGold continues on social channels today, even after the WGC shuttered its jewelry division to focus on the investment market for gold.

In 2016, following the WGC’s pivot from jewelry, Morrison returned to diamonds as the managing director of marketing for the Diamond Producers Association for a short time before departing for colored gemstone miner Gemfields.

Although she’s only been at Gemfields for a year, Morrison succeeded in putting the miner’s colored stones front and center on red carpets this past awards season. Consider: Ruth Negga’s ruby tiara at the Oscars and the “Loving” actress’s cuff of the same gemstone at the Golden Globes.

It was all Morrison’s work, even if nobody knew it.

The Gem Awards are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 19 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

In addition to Lifetime Achievement, awards will be handed out in four categories: Jewelry Design, Marketing and Communications, Media Excellence, and Retail Innovation. The nomination period is open for these categories, and will remain so through June 30.

For more information on the GEM Awards, visit Jewelers.org.

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