Additionally, Walter Pickens was elected a Life Member of the Club. Mr. Pickens, owner of Atlanta-based Pickens, Inc. was bestowed with this special honor for his many years of service to the Club and the jewelry indutry as a whole. He became only the fifth recipient of the Club's Life Member designation joining Mason Callaway, Charles Fram, Burly Sacks and Roy Conradi.(image right: Walter Pickens, with his wife, Mary, accepts his designation as Lifetime Member of the 24 Karat Club Southeastern United States.)
Bill Thraves, owner of Seneca, South Carolina based W.W. Thraves Jewelers was named the 2009 Retailer of the Year. In a moving acceptance speech Thraves eloquently shared what being an independent jewelry store owner means to him.
"The tradition of the mom-and-pop jewelry store is a long and great one. It is the very core of our industry. It is where our beautiful product finds its ultimate path to the well-pleased consumer," he said. "Most importantly, its where the trust factor is joined with the ‘wow factor.' It is where our precious gifts are sold, repaired and maintained for the people who treasure them."
Bill Thraves heads to the podium to receive the 24 Karat Club's 2009 Retailer of the Year Award.
Thraves went on to say: "Some believe the Internet and giant retailers will be the demise of the local jeweler. I do not. The Internet may be a great convenience, but can it possibly fill this niche of trust, pride and service for the people in our communities? Will the big box store know and serve these customers of ours with the same level of care and trust?
"So I'm encouraged that smart, personable people... will continue to enter our great industry armed... with honesty, integrity and fairness to all, building good will and friendships, and serving the whole communities in the process."
Patrick O'Brien of Cumberland Diamond Exchange in Smyrna, Georgia was presented with the 2009 Robert Foreman Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,000. The Club was also able to present six Diamond Council of America Scholarships. DCA scholarship recipients included:
- Kelly Engle of Yelverton Jewelers, Warner Robbins, GA
- Cathy Bouknight of H.H. Turner Jewelers Greenwood, SC
- Jeanne Boteler of Tena's Jewelry, Hartwell, GA
- Michael Pearce of Camelot Jewelers, Dunwoody, GA
- Gael Ngounda of Bradley T. Harris, Atlanta, GA
- Jessica Rossome of Mucklow's Fine Jewelry, Peachtree City, GA
The Club would like to extend a special thank you to Terry Chandler, President of DCA and Club Secretary, for these scholarships. The Club would also like to thank Stuller, Inc. for the Stuller Bench Workshop scholarships which were presented earlier this year.
Patrick O'Brien of Cumberland Diamond Exchange in Smyrna, Georgia was presented with the
2009 Robert Foreman Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,000.
The Club extends its deep appreciation to the following sponsors who helped to make the evening a grand success: Platinum Sponsor - Sterling Reputation (Steve Berkowitz), Diamond Sponsors - Fallaize Insurance Agency, Inc. (Mike Fallaize), Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. (Sheri Ihde), Time Delay (Robert Loving), Aresco (Wes Wildmon) and Doug Murphy.
New members inducted in 2009 are Anish Desai, Star Gems; Linus Drogs, AU Enterprises; Sheri Ihde, Jewelers Mutual Co.; Howard Kelrick, Fingermate, Inc.; David Peters, Jewelers of America; David Ramirez, Dangler Studios; Carol Young, Southern Jewelry Travelers Association; and Fran Zimniuch, Instore magazine.
At the completion of the ceremonies, attendees enjoyed an outstanding dinner. The evening concluded with dancing to the live music of the Powerplay Band.