Arkansas Jewelers Association celebrates 69th anniversary at annual Convention

The Arkansas Jewelers Association met on August 15th, 2008, celebrating its 69th anniversary. The 2008 Convention was considered by attendees to be one of the most successful conventions of the organization’s long history.

Speakers for the event included Sue Fritz, Jewelers Mutual, who provided one of the most informative seminars, according to the attendees. “Sue’s presentation was very informative. She kept the audience involved during her presentation. If I had been able to hear only this one seminar, I would have profited from my attendance,” stated one attendee.


Donna Beaton of GIA provided two seminars of importance to the industry. Donna is the manager of Colored Stone Service at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), New York, where she oversees the examination of client stones. She also interfaces with the Research Department of GIA to investigate new treatments and new gemstones, and works to develop techniques to facilitate the examination of colored stones. Ms. Beaton spoke on, Beryllium Lattice-Diffusion Treatment of Corundum and Irradiation Gemstones: The Case of Blue Topaz.

Jay Lell, Jewelers of America, enthusiastically instructed the members on how to “Build Customer Loyalty – A Critical Component of Your Continued Success;” and Al Gilbertson, of the Gemological Institute of America, led a session entitled “Diamond Cut Grading and A Little Bit of History”; Geoff Annis, with Sissy’s Log Cabin in Pine Bluff, AR, presented a session titled. “Hands-on High Definition Molding.” All members agreed through their evaluation forms that this year’s convention was outstanding, with each speaker having his or her own area of expertise.

Following the Convention Seminar the attendees began their evening with the American Gem Society sponsored champagne reception for Loyd Stanley, owner of Loyd Stanley Jewelers and Gemologists, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

T. C. Carter, Past President of the Arkansas Jewelers Association and owner of Carter’s Jewel Chest, presented Loyd Stanley with the Arkansas Jewelers Lifetime Achievement Award. This presentation was both humorous and serious, as it related to the accomplishments of Mr. Stanley.

T.C. pointed out a photograph appearing a few years ago with Loyd Stanley, Sissy Jones and himself walking with tiaras on their heads, then asked the audience to please turn the Loyd Stanley award booklet over and see the same three individuals. Loyd was first presented with a tiara from T.C. and accepted with fun humor. Later during the presentation T.C. presented Loyd the Lifetime Achievement Award Plaque for his dedication to the Arkansas Jewelers and to jewelers everywhere. Letters from Governor Beebe and Matt Runci, Jewelers of America were also presented to Mr. Stanley.

T. C. Carter and Janisue Rigel (AJP E.D.) presented the awards for Annual Traveler of the Year and the Retailer of the Year. Caught totally off guard, Kelly Newton from Newton’s Jewelers was voted the Retail Jeweler of The Year – Mr. Newton has assisted the association for years from the sidelines and never wanted to be recognized for his efforts and donations to The Arkansas Jewelers Association. As the LCD projector displayed photographs from 2000 to the present, Sheri Ihde from Jewelers Mutual was announced as Traveler of the Year in Arkansas. After T.C. twice announced her name Sheri realized she was the recipient. Sheri is the first woman to receive this award. She stays in contact with all state organizations for Jewelers Mutual and assists the independent jeweler continually.


Kelly Newton, Newton’s Jewelry, was named the 2008 Retailer of the Year by the Arkansas Jewelers Association.

aja_t.o.y._novSheri Idhe (center) of Jewelers Mutual was named the Arkansas Jewelers Association Traveler of the Year for 2008.


The Arkansas Jewelers Association 2008 Convention Choice award went to David Holloway, Swift’s Jewelry, Fayetteville, for this pendant.

Richard Lang, President of Arkansas Jewelers Association began the presentation of the C.A.R.A.T. awards. Richard explained the Convention Choice winner was almost a tie with one vote being the deciding vote.

  • C.A.R.A.T. Award, Category 1 Winner - David Holloway, Swift’s Jewelry, Fayetteville, AR
  • C.A.R.A.T. Award, Category 2 Winner – David Holloway, Swift’s Jewelry, Fayetteville, AR
  • C.A.R.A.T. Award, Category 3 Winner – Faye Rodgers, Faye’s Diamond Mine, Clinton, AR
  • Convention Choice Winner – David Holloway, Swift’s Jewelry, Fayetteville, AR


The winner of the 2008 Arkansas Craftsmanship Award was Nelson Gotay, Gotay’s Gallery, Jonesboro, AR. This award is awarded by votes from each of the C.A.R.A.T. designers. Peers and designers decide this valued award. The Arkansas Craftsmanship Award is the only award that is only in Arkansas – providing each of the designers a chance to decide the winner.

All members, their staff and travelers were invited to a hospitality room Friday & Saturday evenings to enjoy positive networking and Texas Hold’em, along with other games.

“Sponsorship provided by Jewelers Mutual Insurance and Jewelers of America, along with Platinum Travelers are specifically thanked for making the 2008 AJA Convention affordable, while providing the finest of educational opportunities,” stated Janisue Rigel, Executive Director.