New York–Despite the New York City heatwave, which was stealthily creeping into the Javits Center, the mood at the JA New York New Designer Gallery was festive Monday as the Mort Abelson award was announced.
Abelson was the former trade show director of the JA International Jewelry Shows. In 1977 he launched the inaugural New Designer Gallery, which promoted brands that grew to find huge success, including David Yurman, Lagos, Charles Krypell and Penny Preville.
In honor of Abelson’s championing of designers, the award is presented annually to one designer from the gallery.
This year, 20 retailers and editors voted and the winner was … Alexis Kletjian.
“This is the first time I’ve seen my whole collection together,” Kletjian told National Jeweler. “I didn’t realize how ready I was for the show until I had a little push. I feel honored.”
The Pennsylvania-based designer launched her fine jewelry collection in 2011. The daughter of a goldsmith, she originally pursued a career in fashion design, but returned to her jewelry roots after having children.
“I’m very grateful to be included in (the new designer) section along with all of the other designers,” said Kletjian. “The energy is amazing and I was really happy to see so many of my jewelry friends whom I’ve gotten to know over the years. The JA family has been incredibly nice to me and I’m very grateful to Liz because she’s the reason I did the show.”
Kletjian was referring to Liz Kantner, who organized the group of new designers. Kantner took over after the industry lost Cindy Edelstein earlier this year. At last year’s JA New York show, Edelstein said giving the Mort Abelson Award was her favorite five minutes of the year.
Kanter called Edelstein her mentor as she presented the award, and said that “Every single designer who has been curated here is truly amazing. I can’t say enough good things about each and every one of them, their unique aesthetics and the unique things they bring to this industry.”