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Anna Martin vividly recalls her first impressions of the jewelry industry. “What struck me deeply was the importance of personal integrity and how a handshake carried more weight than complex weighty agreements,” said the president of the Women’s Jewelry Association. “This legacy of integrity and honor is still very much alive today.”
This story first appeared in the January 27, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Martin, who was elected the seventh president of the WJA last year, is no stranger to the jewelry industry. As senior vice president and North American regional manager for ABN AMRO Bank in Manhattan, Martin is in charge of the bank’s diamond, jewelry and precious metals division and is widely credited for diversifying its portfolio to include jewelry manufacturers and retailers, boosting its diamond lending and establishing gold leasing capacities at the bank. Today, ABN AMRO is a leading international bank providing financing to the jewelry industry.
“ABN AMRO is unique in having a global network of jewelry-industry specialized groups to provide financing to this industry,” she said. “In purely business terms, my involvement enhances ABN AMRO’s knowledge of the many diverse sectors in the industry, such as mining, trading, manufacturing and retailing, and is a potential source of new business financing opportunities.”
Martin has been a WJA board member for four years and last year succeeded Phyllis Bergman, president of Mercury Ring Corporation, as president.
As for her objectives at WJA, Martin said she wants to instill a more formal organizational structure and run it more like a business, with clearly defined goals and objectives and new organizational units to effect desired results.
“This would enable the WJA to take advantage of and leverage the diversified and deep resources of its board of directors and its members to accomplish a greater agenda,” she said.
One of her key personal goals is to raise scholarship funds to enable economically disadvantaged young women to have a career in the jewelry industry.
“We have raised substantial funds for women to further their education in the field of jewelry and design at national jewelry professional centers such as The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, Calif.,” she said.
Martin also wants to boost WJA’s mentoring programs and create a platform or forum where women in the jewelry industry can network and increase their knowledge of other sectors of the industry.
“This applies to women directly involved in the industry, such as designers, merchandise managers and retailers, or as professionals serving the jewelry industry in the field of accounting, consulting, public relations, journalism at jewelry publications or banking,” she said.
One of her most ambitious plans is to make WJA a global organization.
She said: “In view of the highly international nature of the industry — rough diamonds are mined in South Africa, Australia, and more recently, Canada; traded primarily in Antwerp; manufactured in the U.S., Israel and India, and finished jewelry products are primarily sold in the Americas, Europe and Asia — I would like to initiate the process by starting overseas chapters in some of these international locations.”
In her 35 years in business, Martin has been showered with recognition and awards. She is a League of Honor Sovereign and a governor serving on the board of GIA, as well as a board member of the Jewelers Board of Trade. She is a member of the Diamond Hall of Fame and is the recipient of the Premier Patron award from the Indian Diamond & Colored Stone Association and received the Community Achievement Award from American ORT’s Jewelry Chapter.
Martin is involved with the Jewelers Charity Fund for Children, which helps youngsters with illnesses worldwide. “This is a true example of an industry with a heart,” she said. “I am very passionate about my involvement in the industry.”
So deep is her interest in the jewelry world that it sometimes causes a raised eyebrow among her friends and family.
“Sometimes my friends wonder if I have any other interests besides the jewelry industry,” she said. “I am fortunate to love the work that I do, but my husband and my family are also very important to me. I have 18 nieces and nephews and come from a large family. I am very lucky to have such a close and loving family.”
Family is what triggered her fascination with baubles in the first place.
Of her favorite pieces of jewelry, she said: “For decades it was the jewelry given to me by my late grandmother. However, in 2000, for our 30th anniversary, my husband gave me a millennium diamond ring, which I also greatly cherish.”