NEW YORK — The jeweled crowd was out in force last week at two charitable events: the Rita Hayworth Gala and the Jewelry Industry Chapter of American ORT tribute dinner.

Last Tuesday’s 19th annual Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala, which was themed “The Magic of Mardi Gras” and underwritten by Rolex Watch USA, had a distinctly bacchanalian feel. Some 770 guests crowded the ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which was transformed into a carnival fantasy for the occasion, with sprawling floral arrangements and wild Brazilian dancers practicing their moves in glittering costumes.

“I am in hiding, I only hand out the dance cards,” quipped actress Scarlet Johansson, who like many that evening, perused the ballroom incognito in a Mardi Gras mask.

The masks were judged by a committee that included Cynthia Rowley, Mark Badgley and James Mischka. The gala’s theme was inspired by Hayworth’s 1937 movie “Old Louisiana.” Hayworth’s daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, is the general chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“It’s absolutely necessary that we find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Walter Fischer, president and chief executive officer of Rolex Watch USA, who unlike many that night declined to wear a Mardi Gras mask.

“We aren’t eligible for prizes,” he said. “The winner gets a Rolex, so we shouldn’t participate.”

The night honored Donna Dixon Aykroyd for her efforts in the fight against the disease. Aykroyd was accompanied by husband Dan, who gave a special Blues Brothers performance, and other guests included Chevy Chase, Bryant Gumbel, Fran Drescher, Jane Elfers, Regis and Joy Philbin, Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford, John McEnroe, Patty Smyth, Richard Graziano and Denise Rich. The event raised about $1.7 million for the cause.

Meanwhile, more than 300 jewelry industry executives came out at a more subdued event on Wednesday to honor Arthur E. Reiner, chairman and chief executive officer of Finlay Fine Jewelry Corp., who received the 2003 ORT Community Achievement Award.

The event, held at the Grand Hyatt New York in Manhattan, raised more than $400,000 for the organization, which creates educational and training programs for young people around the world in locales including Israel, Brazil and South Africa. Reiner has been in the retail industry for more than 40 years, and was chairman and ceo of Macy’s East before joining Finlay in 1995.Other executives attending included Michael Kaplan, chapter president of the Jewelry Industry chapter of American ORT and president of Rocket Jewelry Box Inc.; Phyllis Bergman, ORT chapter chair and president of Mercury Ring Corp.; jewelry designer Jose Hess; Lowell Kwiat of Kwiat Inc., and Anna Martin, president of the Women’s Jewelry Association and an executive at ABN Amro Bank.

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