By Michelle Graff
“Town & Country” Editor-in-Chief Stellene Volandes, a champion of independent jewelry design, will be honored with a Women’s Jewelry Association Visionary Award at the organization’s annual Awards for Excellence Gala.
New York—Last year, the Women’s Jewelry Association revamped its Awards for Excellence, choosing to honor a specific few individuals and groups instead of handing out awards in a dozen different categories.

It’s sticking with that formula in 2019.

The association announced Tuesday its 2019 “Visionary Award” recipients, all of whom have contributed to the professional advancement of women in their respective fields within the jewelry industry, it said.

Stellene Volandes will receive a Visionary Award for her long-standing work as a jewelry editor, championing brands and designers for the various consumer publications for which she’s worked.

Volandes is the editor-in-chief at “Town & Country” magazine, a role she has occupied since 2016.

Prior to nabbing the top spot at the glossy, she served as style director and, before that, jewelry and accessories director. Previously, she worked as style editor for “Departures” magazine.

A graduate of Vassar College with a master’s degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, she is the author of “Jeweler: Masters, Mavericks, and Visionaries of Modern Design,” which Rizzoli published in 2016.

Also receiving a WJA Visionary Award in 2019 is Carol Pennelli, president of David Yurman.

Pennelli oversees all aspects of the business outside of design and creative, reporting directly to co-founder, Chairman and CEO David Yurman.

20190424 CarolPennelliCarol Pennelli, president of David Yurman

She has been with the fine jewelry brand since 2002, originally working as chief commercial officer, a role that entailed overseeing all commercial channels, profit and loss, and performance across retail, wholesale, digital and outlet channels.

Pennelli came to David Yurman from Bobbi Brown, where she was senior vice president of sales, education and global special events.

The 2019 Cindy Edelstein Mentorship Award will go to a man who “provides exemplary support and mentorship to women,” WJA Board President Jenny Luker said—Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer at Richline Group, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Hanna is the chair of Berkshire Hathaway’s Sustainability Leadership Committee and is a frequent speaker at events like the UL Responsible Sourcing Summit, MJSA Expo, Pure Earth and the Jewelry Industry Summit.

He serves on the boards of the Mercury-Free Mining Challenge, the Responsible Jewellery Council, the Special Olympics and the U.S. Wildlife Tracking Alliance.

20190424 MarkHannaMark Hanna is the fourth recipient of the Cindy Edelstein Mentorship Awarded, which was created in 2016. The previous recipients were Cindy Edelstein (the award was created after her untimely death that year), Peggy Jo Donahue in 2017 and Bev Hori in 2018.

“The Visionary Awards’ revamped program was an incredible success for WJA last year and we’re thrilled to continue this new tradition with our truly remarkable honorees in 2019,” said Luker, who called the two female Visionary Award recipients, “women who have been trailblazers and the driving forces of leadership in their companies.”

WJA Executive Director Bernadette Mack added: “WJA congratulates our honorees for their distinguished achievements. The elevated event experience we’ve been able to present through the Visionary Awards program runs parallel with the strides WJA is making programmatically for its members.

“We’re leading the charge for progress in areas that matter most to women in the industry: mentorship, gender equality, financial support through scholarships and grants, and making connections.”

The WJA Awards for Excellence gala is scheduled for July 29 at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in New York. The event will raise money for WJA scholarships and grants, in part with a silent auction.

WJA said that tickets will go on sale later this month and gala sponsorship inquiries may be directed to Mack at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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