New York—Non-profit association Contemporary Jewelry Design Group is closing after 30 years, the group announced in a statement posted to its website and social media channels this week.

“We relied almost entirely on the collection of membership dues, and we have reluctantly determined that this is no longer a viable option for the association going forward. While we were continuing to gain new members, the renewal rate for current members continued to drop,” the statement read in part.

Founded in 1989, CJDG’s goal has always been to promote independent jewelry designers in the industry at large.

The organization did so through its website that features designer profiles, a monthly e-mail newsletter that went to approximately 2,000 retailers and a robust social media presence, including nearly 15,000 followers at the time of this article.

The CJDG’s website currently lists 93 members, including brands like Adel Chefridi, Coomi, Dana Bronfman and Ray Griffiths.

The CJDG booth has been a presence for several years at the Couture jewelry trade show, hosting six member designers.

Marylouise Lugosch became the group’s executive director in 1999, running daily operations.

She explained to National Jeweler that changes in the way brands do business has been a major factor in closing the organization.

“CJDG started in 1989 when a group of designers got together at a show in California. They realized that they didn’t have a voice in the jewelry industry, so they banded together to try to make the industry and the retailers more aware of their work,” she explained.

View this post on Instagram

The Contemporary Jewelry Design Group is taking steps to dissolve the organization. Since 1989, our sole mission has been to promote designers and designer jewelry. In many ways we succeeded in that mission. CJDG is a known entity in the fine jewelry industry, and our members have always been some of the most award-winning designers in the industry. But we relied almost entirely on the collection of membership dues, and we have reluctantly determined that this is no longer a viable option for the association going forward. While we were continuing to gain new members, the renewal rate for current members continued to drop. Without the will of the membership to keep going, we can no longer cover the expenses of the organization. Most organizations have a lifespan, and with changes in social media and in the jewelry industry, CJDG has come to the end of its relevance. We have reached this determination with reluctance and sadness. We thank all of our members, the press, and followers on social media for their support. We’ve had a good run.

A post shared by CJDG (@cjdgjewelers) on


“At that time, everyone did the trade shows,” she added. “Today, more than half of our members don’t do shows at all. The sense of community was lost. Yes, online communities can be vibrant, but people need to see each other in the flesh a few times a year and that wasn’t happening as much. At the same time that trade show participation was dwindling, retail was changing. Social media and Instagram are great, but at some point you get lost in all the images.”

Lugosch also felt CJDG never fully recovered from the 2008 recession, the end of an era in which customers “would put a pair of $4,000 18-karat gold earrings on their credit card.”

Despite its closure, she said that CJDG has achieved its goals of promoting brands’ work over the past three decades.

Her fondest memories are of the relationships fostered between designers.

“We created a great sense of community,” she said.

Lugosch is most proud of CJDG’s spearheading of the Cindy Edelstein Memorial Auction at the Couture jewelry trade show, an idea from Just Jules designer Julie Romanenko, which raised $30,000 for the WJA Cindy Edelstein Jewelry Design Scholarship and Jewelers for Children in honor of the late jewelry advocate.

|Subscribe >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.