Represented here are pieces from the 10 designers chosen to exhibit in 2016’s New Designer Gallery.
Represented here are pieces from the 10 designers chosen to exhibit in 2016’s New Designer Gallery.

New York--The JA New York trade show’s New Designer Gallery, which showcases a select group of jewelers making their fine jewelry trade show debut, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017.

To commemorate the milestone, JA New York will extend the New Designer Gallery, which was previously an exclusive feature of the Summer show, to its spring event, which is scheduled for March 12 to 14.

Mort Abelson, a former director of the show, initiated the New Designer Gallery in 1977. It helped to promote brands that went on to find huge industry success, designers like David Yurman, Penny Preville and Barry Kieselstein-Cord.

Abelson, show organizers said, effectively drove the American independent jewelry designer movement by connecting brands with fine jewelry retailers.

Now, the Mort Abelson Award is given annually to one designer from the gallery, who is selected by show-goers. Last year’s winner was Alexis Kletjian.



Drew Lawsky, JA New York group show director, said, “Mort had an idea that was considered radical at the time, and based on this idea, he encouraged those first pioneering designers to leave the comfort of their craft and gift-focused worlds and enter the world of a true fine jewelry environment.”

“By giving those first designers access to traditional fine jewelry stores what Mort essentially accomplished was a total transformation of the industry as a whole. These designers placed a premium on creativity and craftsmanship, and not just the weight of the materials they used. By launching and nurturing the New Designer Gallery, retailers, and ultimately consumers, started to identify and demand designs with a distinct, individual point of view.”

Last summer, 10 designers were featured in the gallery. In addition to Kletjian, the group was comprised of Elisa Solomon, Santi Rom, Hannah Blount, Salt + Stone, Adriatic Jewelry, Rachael Sarc, Emilie Shapiro, Alexandra Gunn Designs and Acanthus.

Liz Kantner is the consultant who took on the task of selecting the featured designers in conjunction with JA New York in 2016; she replaced the late Cindy Edelstein.

“Designers accepted into the New Designer Gallery have a very unique opportunity to enter into an established fine jewelry exhibition,” said Kantner. “The friendships they develop with their fellow artists, the knowledge that they gain from others in the industry, and the relationships they form with retailers and press are invaluable to the future success of these brands.”

For additional information about the New Designer Gallery, contact Michelle Orman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (646) 302-5521. To submit an application to exhibit in the gallery, contact Liz Kantner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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