Jewelry Industry Experts Inspire Job Seekers

The opening panelists of "Job Success in Today
From left: Moderator Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO (January 2014); Douglas K. Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association; Lex Graham, GIA Graduate Gemologist for Betteridge Jewelers; and Dione Kenyon, president of the Jewelers Board of Trade, share advice during the opening panel "Job Success in Today's Market" at GIA's 2013 Jewelry Career Fair in Carlsbad, California.
Students, job seekers and jewelry industry veterans gathered at GIA’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, California on Oct. 11, 2013 for GIA’s annual Jewelry Career Fair. The free event is an opportunity for attendees to network and connect with companies through recruiting sessions, one-on-one career coaching and panel discussions that feature down-to-earth advice.  
The panelists of “Job Success in Today’s Market,” “From Design to Finish” and “Creative Careers” have various professional backgrounds – from long-time industry veterans to a recent GIA graduate a few years into his career – with a common goal to give back by sharing what they’ve learned. 
Here is some of their best advice:
Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO (January 2014), shared the unlikely path that led to her career in the jewelry industry: “Don’t lose opportunities that come your way in life because you believe you already know what your destiny is. Leap out of your comfort zone, take some chances – and you will be pleasantly surprised with what your life might bring for you.”
She also spoke about the importance of honesty: “Be loyal. Lead your life and your career with passion, ethics, integrity and trustworthiness. In our industry it’s all about your word. It’s who you are and what you say.”   
Dione D. Kenyon, president of Jewelers Board of Trade, challenged job seekers to become lifelong learners: “Invest in yourself. Don’t give-up. Be persistent. Show up. Have a strong work ethic. Look the part. Take risks. Have a global perspective.” 
Lex Graham, a GIA Graduate Gemologist for Betteridge Jewelers: “If you face bumps in an interview, work through them. Remember, an interview is your chance to show off your greatest strength – yourself.” He also encouraged attendees to challenge themselves: “If you don’t keep moving forward in this industry, you stop.”
Douglas K. Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, on the importance of networking and stepping out of your comfort zone: “Get in people’s faces. Sit in the front row and take your sunglasses off. If you’re going to get into this business you’ve got to meet people.”
Charlie Herner, CAD/CAM director of Green Lake Jewelry Works, on trying new things: “You learn from your failures. Fail as often as you can – you won’t make those mistakes again. Don’t turn down a project. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from each one.”
Jewelry designer Alishan Halebian said it’s important for designers to determine their niche: “Figure out where you fit. What makes your business (different)?”
Jewelry designer Erik Stewart encouraged aspiring designers to enter as many contests as possible because it can help you gain exposure in the jewelry industry:  “Talk to anybody and everybody… especially editors and writers, because it’s free publicity.”  
Designer Erica Courtney on how to start a jewelry line: “Be patient. Start little by little. Keep trying. Always push yourself to make it better.”
Yancy Weinrich, group vice president of JCK Portfolio, on joining industry associations: "Get involved in the industry. Build those relationships. Understand how you can help people and how they can help you." 
Au-Co Mai, president and CEO of, said when starting a new business, instead of focusing on the obstacles, look at what is accessible to you and be creative. 

Hutton Wilkinson, president and creative director of Tony Duquette, Inc., on designing jewelry: “Don’t second-guess yourself and don’t let others second-guess you. Just go for it. Do what makes you happy.”
Rebecca Boyajian, director of communications for Bill Boyajian & Associates Inc.: “When opportunities come your way, say yes and figure it out later. I’m always looking for new opportunities – because I don't know everything and I want to know more.”

Kristin A. Aldridge, a writer at GIA, is a graduate of GIA’s Pearls and Accredited Jewelry Professional programs.