WWMW (What Would Monica Wear)? WJA Awards for Excellence Gala

I’m back from New York City and the Women’s Jewelry Association Awards for Excellence Gala. I didn’t win, in case you were wondering. The lovely Melissa Colgan from Martha Stewart Weddings took the Award for Excellence in Media. I know everyone says “it’s an honor to be nominated” and this time, it really is.

WJA Gala Monica Stephenson

Arriving at the Women’s Jewelry Association Gala!

Of course, the best part is–always–the people. It’s a very good thing that I collect energy from these events that then sustains me for a while, preferably til the next event. I have friends! In the jewelry industry that I love! How lucky am I?

Women's Jewelry Association Gala

The Women’s Jewelry Association Gala at Chelsea Piers, NYC.

There were just over 700 people at the WJA gala. If you’re having trouble visualizing what that looks like, let me just say that’s a lot of people. In spectacular jewels. The best jewelry at any event I have ever been to; I’m pretty sure it could stack up against the Golden Globes or Oscars. The collective crowd was pretty much the Who’s Who of the entire jewelry industry, which says a lot about the WJA. Journalists, manufacturers, designers, retailers, from PR to packaging, there were representatives there. And contrary to what you might assume, a lot of men were there, too.

WJA Gala Wendy Brandes, Barbara Palumbo, Monica Stephenson

My Vegas Gems shining: from left, Barbara Palumbo, Wendy Brandes, and me.

I was SO happy to see the familiar faces of Barbara Palumbo and jewelry designer Wendy Brandes, a couple of my Vegas Gems. They were the life of the party, and cheered very loudly for me when my name was mentioned as a nominee in the Media category. Of course, I could see the curvature of the earth between our respective tables, the room was so large, but it was still very gratifying. Also making the night exceptionally entertaining was Malak Atut, and Delphine Leymarie at my table. Both of them make beautiful jewelry and are fierce dancers!

Malak Atut and Monica Stephenson at WJA Gala

Malak Atut of Zaiken Jewelry. This is before the dancing.


Monica Stephenson backlace at WJA Gala

This is the back view of my Helmut Lang dress, showing the back-lace I wore from Amali, photo courtesy of Wendy Brandes.

I felt a little bit like Cinderella for the night, in a Helmut Lang gown I ordered from Moda Operandi. But the best part–of course–were the jewels! I figured that the backless nature of the dress allowed for a perfect opportunity for a “back-lace”, a necklace worn down the back. I asked Sara Freedenfeld of Amali Jewelry Design if she had something that might work. Sara makes–herself, I should point out–extraordinarily fluid jewelry from hand-woven gold. Fairy-tale-like, she can take golden wire and stitch together gemstones and 18kt gold into a necklace that can be tied at any point. The versatility of this cannot be overstated. I wore it down my back, but it could have been worn conventionally, or doubled, or wrapped around the wrist. The perfectly matched turquoise gems glowed, and the gold sparkled, with the ends capped off by blue labradorites.

Pamela Froman 2-finger Boulder Opal Ring

Here’s a close-up of the Pamela Froman two-finger Boulder Opal ring in 18kt signature “crushed” gold, with diamonds and the most amazing Paraiba tourmaline accents.

To round out the jewels (in addition to my own vintage platinum and diamond rings and bracelets), I also wore a pair of labradorite, diamond and 18kt gold drop earrings designed by fellow Award for Excellence nominee in Design, Pamela Froman. The smooth blue stones with their play of adularescence brushed against my neck throughout the night, always cool to the touch. The showstopper was a new two-finger ring also by Pamela, with a horizontal Boulder opal. It was perfectly accented by vivid windex-colored Pariaba tourmalines and diamonds. It was surprisingly comfortable and appropriately spectacular.

Amali Jewelry necklace, Pamela Froman earrings and ring

Amazing Amali Jewelry lariat necklace in turquoise and 18kt gold with Labradorite ends, and Pamela Froman Labradorite earrings in 18kt with diamonds, and the Boulder Opal ring. Sigh.

I met so many people, there is no way to gracefully mention everyone, so I am not going to try and do it here. I had an incredible time. I’m humbled, honored and hoping to be a part of it again next year!

WJA Gala Monica Stephenson, Barbara Palumbo

Friends. Barbara and I. Until next year!

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