New York--Every so often, there’s a year in which the world says goodbye to an unusually large number of pop culture icons, leaders and influencers.

In 2016, we mourned Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, actors Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder, author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, author Harper Lee, former first lady Nancy Reagan, legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, and astronaut John Glenn, among so many others.

The jewelry industry also lost many great people this year. National Jeweler remembers them below.

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20161220 Cindy-Edelstein
Not far into the New Year, the industry lost one of its fiercest advocates. In January, Cindy Edelstein died unexpectedly at the age of 51 due to heart failure. The New York native got her start as the fashion editor of JCK magazine, where she came into contact with many jewelry designers and discovered her true passion of working with, and helping to nurture, the industry’s artisans.

She started the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau with her husband, Frank Stankus, in 1991, working for the next 25 years in a number of roles to help move the industry ahead and becoming something of a “fairy godmother” to the industry’s fledgling jewelry designers.

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20161220 Harold-Markman
Longtime Tennessee jeweler Harold Markman, 89, died in February. After starting in the jewelry industry as a teenager, Markman opened Markman’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry with his wife Ida in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1976.

He had a loyal following of customers, including the children and grandchildren of clients who had shopped at the store since it opened.

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20161220 Gichuchu-Okeno
Gichuchu Okeno, or Okeno as everyone knew him, was a gemstone miner and dealer in Voi, Kenya, but was working to achieve so much more than that when he died of kidney failure in March.

In addition to building up his own mining site and connecting buyers from around the world with other local miners, he also was trying to establish a cutting school in Voi and elevate the East African gem trade. Though he died in the middle of some big projects, his spirit lives on in the film Sharing the Rough and through the work he started, which will carry on.

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20161220 John-Parrish
Renowned gemstone photographer John Parrish died April 1 after he fell while preparing ropes for rock climbing on a camping trip in Oklahoma.

He was 65. Parrish, who owned Parrish Photography, was known in the industry for his amazing close-up shots of gemstones and jewelry as well as for being an optimistic, steadfast and creative man who placed a great importance on what he called “the gift of now.”

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20161220 James-Curren
Award-winning jewelry designer James Currens died suddenly in April at the age of 58. Thailand-based Currens created intricate pieces for his brand, J.W. Currens, that were much beloved and appreciated by many.

He earned numerous awards over his many years in the jewelry industry, including 19 AGTA Spectrum awards--five of them Best in Show honors--and four MJSA Vision awards. “Everything that Jim did, he did exceedingly well,” designer Naomi Sarna said.

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20161220 Pinar-Oner
In April, the industry said goodbye to designer Pinar Öner, who died peacefully at home in Turkey after a long battle with illness. A native of Ankara, Turkey, Öner’s fascination with fine jewelry craftsmanship started at a young age, eventually developing beautiful yellow gold and enamel designs that paid homage to the architecture and culture of her homeland.

She made her U.S. trade show debut at Couture in 2013 and was named second runner-up in the Bridal category of the Couture Design Awards that same year.

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20161220 Byard-Brogan
Byard Brogan Jr., the longtime owner of the Philadelphia-area jewelry manufacturing company his father started in 1908, died in late April at 85.

After graduating from Episcopal Academy in 1949, he began working for his father at the family jewelry manufacturing company, Byard F. Brogan, eventually becoming owner and president. He retired after being with the company for 60 years, and spent his free time working outside and maintaining houses.

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20161220 Stuart-Zuckerman
Longtime watch industry executive Stuart Zuckerman died May 21 after a long battle with Frontotemporal Degeneration. He was 67 years old.

Zuckerman joined Seiko Time Corp. in 1974, becoming part of a team that made Seiko one of the top-selling watch brands in the United States. In 1988, he joined the Citizen Watch Company of America, where he was a key player in its establishment as a top brand in the market. He retired from the industry in 2010 when the symptoms of the disease began to show, but remained active in his community for as long as he could.

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20161220 Harold-Tivol
Kansas City-based retailer Tivol Jewelers shared the news in July that Harold Tivol, the man credited with building the business’s international reputation, had died at the age of 92. After three years with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, Tivol studied at the Gemological Institute of America and joined the business his father started in 1946.

Five years later, he suggested the relocation of the store to the city’s Country Club Plaza and also was responsible for opening the company’s second store, inside the Hawthorne Plaza shopping center in Overland Park, Kansas, decades later.

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20161220 Ronnie-Cox
Texas jeweler Ronnie Cox, an active member of both the American Gem Society and his local community, died July 19 at age 73.

His grandfather founded Cox Jewelers in 1886. Cox took over the family business in 1965 but retired in 2012. He was an AGS and AGS labs board member and received the organization’s Robert M. Shipley Award in 2011.

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20161220 Robert-Gannicott
Longtime Dominion Diamond Corp. executive Robert Gannicott died in August from leukemia.

Gannicott led the company through its growth period after discovering and starting the Diavik Diamonds Project and acquiring the Harry Winston brand in 2004. He also oversaw the acquisition of the Ekati diamond mine and the sale of the Harry Winston brand to Swatch Group.

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Lorenzo Yih, the chairman and CEO of the Lorenzo Jewelry Group, died in August at the age of 77. Though he started as an architect in Brazil, he later went to work as a colored gemstone trader, founding a manufacturing company in the 1980s before establishing Lorenzo Jewelry Ltd. in Hong Kong in 1987 and a retail jewelry brand in China in 2004. Yih also established GIA Hong Kong in 1994 and was the founding sponsor from 1994 to 2002.

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Clayton Poole, vice president of Tennessee retailer Peter D. Poole Fine Jewelers, died Aug. 20. He was 32. Poole worked as a senior account manager at Dell for seven years before deciding to join the company started by his parents. He moved to Carlsbad, California, to study at the Gemological Institute of America and started working at the store after completing his graduate gemologist degree in 2014.

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20161220 Goldfarb
Alvin Goldfarb, a fixture in the jewelry industry since the late 1950s, died Sept. 4 in his hometown of Seattle. He was 84. After studying at the University of Washington and the Gemological Institute of America, he married Jackie Friedlander and decided to join Friedlander & Sons Jewelers in 1957.

His caring and attention to clients laid the foundation for a long career in the jewelry industry, helping him open Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue in 1980, which now is run by his son.

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Cheng Yu-tung, the man responsible for the widespread success of Asian jewelry chain Chow Tai Fook, died in early October at the age of 91. He had relinquished control of his companies to son Henry Cheng four years ago after suffering a brain hemorrhage, but not before growing the company into Asia’s largest luxury jeweler, earning him the title of the “king of jewelry” in Asia.

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Wax carver James Bilello died in October when the boat he and another man were in capsized in the Long Island Sound. Bilello worked as a freelance model maker for high-end jewelers and jewelry designers for more than three decades, but had skills that went far beyond that, knowing jewelry design and model making inside and out.

“He told corny jokes and loved to make us laugh,” said Donna Distefano Thomas. “He had a courageous heart. Jim was a profoundly gifted wax carver and was a master at carving creatures.”

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20161220 Richard-Schriebman
Richard Schreibman, third-generation jeweler and former owner of Alvin’s Jewelers and Alson Jewelers, died Oct. 20. He was 78 years old.

Schreibman’s grandparents were watchmakers and jewelry manufacturers in Poland. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1931 with Richard’s parents, they started what is now Alson Jewelers, developing a chain of jewelry stores in Ohio, which Richard joined in 1961. The business is now run by his sons, David and Chad.

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20161220 Bruce-Watters
Longtime Florida jeweler Bruce Walter Watters died in October at the age of 85. Watters worked as a unit and dollar control supervisor at Rich’s Department Store in 1955 and 1956, and served in the Air Force as a multi-engine and helicopter pilot before being released as a captain.

After leaving the service, he went to work for his family’s jewelry company, running the store until 1999, when his son took over.

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20161220 James-Caudill
James Caudill, the former director of the American Gem Society’s advanced instrument division, died Oct. 15 at the age of 53.

With eight patents for his work, Caudill was instrumental in furthering the society’s research on light performance and developed the Light Performance Grading system.

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20161220 Jim-Fiebig
Colored gemstone expert and jeweler Jim Fiebig died Oct. 22 after a battle with cancer. He was 60.

After helping run the family store for a while, Fiebig sold the business so he could live in Madagascar, marking the first of many trips he’d take for the colored stone industry. Following his death, a few things were named in his honor: Josephs Jewelers in Des Moines, Iowa, where Fiebig held his final job, arranged for a Madagascar lemur exhibit dedicated to him at the city’s Blank Park Zoo, and there are two separate scholarships given in his name.

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20161220 Obit-kirby
Hilda “Peggy” Kirby, one of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s 12 founding members, died Nov. 6 at the age of 102. Despite an impressive education, Kirby had a hard time getting a job after she was finished with her schooling, and that’s when she turned to the jewelry industry.

She started working with a small jewelry chain in 1940, helping grow it until she left in 1978. She went on to write for a number of trade magazines in retirement and helped start the Women’s Jewelry Association, which she remained involved in for the rest of her life.

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Meyer Weisman, founder of Grove City, Ohio-based Meyers Jewelers, died Dec. 13 at 89. He began his career in the industry at Harris Jewelers in Columbus as a teenager, returning there after serving in World War II. Then he moved to Rogers Jewelers, eventually taking over one of its locations in 1966 and renaming it Meyers Jewelers. His sons joined the business after college and continue to work at the store today.

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John Bailliere Joseph of Josephs Jewelers in West Des Moines, Iowa, died Dec. 13. He was 55. Joseph joined the family business in 1983 and was an active member of the American Gem Society, according to his online obituary. He also had a passion for colored gemstones that led him travel around the world, and was a business leader who cared about the well-being of his employees and truly viewed them as extended family.

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20161220 Clyde-Duneier
Clyde Duneier, founder of family-owned jewelry company Clyde Duneier Inc., died Dec. 18 at the age of 88. After running his own company for more than four decades, Duneier retired in 1983 to dedicate his time to philanthropic efforts on behalf of the business.

He was responsible for the formation of The Plumb Club as well as the “Party with a Purpose” event, which led to the formation of Jewelers for Children.

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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.