By Michelle Graff
The recipients of the WJA’s first Visionary Awards are, from left to right, Mercedes Abramo, Caryl Capeci and Nadja Swarovski. Receiving the fourth Visionary Award is De Beers/UN Women.

New York--The Women’s Jewelry Association announced Tuesday that it is revamping the format of its annual Awards for Excellence gala.

Instead of handing out awards in more than a dozen separate categories (e.g., Design, Editorial, Business Services, etc.) the WJA is simplifying the program with the presentation of four Visionary Awards.

“The WJA board voted to introduce its Visionary Awards as a way to mark our anniversary and to recognize individuals and organizations making a difference in the cause of women’s equality,” new WJA board President Jenny Luker said in a press release. “Our four awards will go to women who are the first to hold their high positions of leadership in their companies, and to organizations that are providing support and mentorship to women.”

The 2018 honorees are: Mercedes Abramo, president and CEO of Cartier, North America; Caryl Capeci, president of Hearts On Fire; and Nadja Swarovski, the first female member of the executive board of Swarovski, as well as De Beers Group/UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality.  

Abramo started her career with Cartier in 2008 as director of the flagship Fifth Avenue mansion. She became president and CEO of Cartier North America in 2014. In addition, she is on the board of Jewelers of America and the advisory board of the Luxury Education Foundation, a not-for-profit that focuses on educational programs for design and business students. Abramo is also a key advocate for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, an international business plan competition for women entrepreneurs.

Capeci began her career working on the De Beers account at N.W. Ayer and J. Walter Thompson. She joined Hearts On Fire in 2007 as vice president of marketing and was promoted to chief marketing officer before being named president of the company in 2015. She serves on the boards of Jewelers for Children and the Diamond Empowerment Fund, and is a member of the 24 Karat Club of the City of New York.

Swarovski is the first female board member of the crystal company her great-great-grandfather, Daniel Swarovski, started in Austria in 1895.

She leads the company’s global branding and communications and drives “conscious luxury” through the Atelier Swarovski brand, which created a charity bracelet with UN Women in 2016.  She also oversees the company’s sustainability agenda and chairs the Swarovski Foundation, both of which promote women’s empowerment. Swarovski is an ambassador for Women for Women International and under her leadership, her company has signed on to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and the UN Global Compact.

The fourth Visionary Award is being given jointly to De Beers and UN Women in recognition of the three-year partnership De Beers inked with UN Women last year to promote the advancement of women within De Beers in the countries where it produces diamonds and in its marketing.

Elizabeth Nyamayaro, the head of UN Women’s “HeForShe” movement, and De Beers’ David Prager will accept the award on behalf of both organizations.

The WJA said it will wait to receive feedback from this year’s Awards for Excellence before determining the format for the awards ceremony in 2019 and beyond.

The 2018 Awards for Excellence will mark the WJA’s 35th year in the industry. The awards are scheduled to take place Monday, July 16 at Pier 60 at the Chelsea Piers in New York.

The evening will, as usual, include a silent auction to raise money for scholarships and grants the WJA distributes to women working in or entering the jewelry industry.

Gala sponsorships are available now while tickets will go on sale in the near future. For more information, email WJA Executive Director Bernadette McGovern Mack at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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