The Plumb Club’s Most Accomplished Female Execs Are Unstoppable

According to a 2022 “Women in the Workplace” report from McKinsey & Co., “Despite modest gains in representation over the last eight years, women—and especially women of color—are still dramatically underrepresented in corporate America. And this is especially true in senior leadership: only 1 in 4 C-suite leaders is a woman, and only 1 in 20 is a woman of color.”

The report talks about something called the “broken rung” on the first step of the corporate ladder that effectively impedes the pipeline to leadership positions. “The ‘broken rung’ remains broken” which in turn makes “achieving gender equality in their organization all but impossible.” And “for every 100 men who are promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color are promoted. As a result, men significantly outnumber women at the manager level, and women can never catch up. There are simply too few women to promote into senior leadership positions.”

Clearly there are a number of ways the jewelry industry can work towards leveling the playing field within its many organizations but the Plumb Club membership employs quite a few “leading ladies.”

Representing a breadth of cultures, demographics, and professional experience, each is a force in her own way—and effectively furthering the growth of the jewelry industry at large. Whether they sit on their business’s executive team, lead the charge on product development and marketing, or are excelling when it comes to sales, get to know them better below and find out what they’ve learned during their rise to the top.

Debbie Azar, president and cofounder of Gemological Science International (GSI): As an executive with extensive knowledge of the diamond and jewelry industry, Azar’s entrepreneurial skills and vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide, establishing 13 leading-edge gemological laboratories on four continents. Azar has been featured as an industry expert in many leading media broadcasts and publications including Forbes, Good Morning America, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fox Business, and CBS. She currently serves on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Responsible Jewelry Council, Diamonds do Good and Jewelers for Children, and is a member of the 24 Karat Club of New York.

Lesson learned: Don’t tell a customer what they want to hear. Tell them what they need to know, and they will respect you for it.

Corinna Bhasin, vice president, F.D. Worldwide: Born in Singapore, Bhasin holds a bachelor’s degree in business and worked in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) marketing sector for five years before coming to USA in 1999 to obtain her master’s degree in international business. She joined F.D. Worldwide after receiving her MBA and has been working in the jewelry industry ever since (23 years to be exact). She has held a seat on the Plumb Club Executive board since 2017 and currently serves as its treasurer.

Lesson learned: Working with people who share your values is essential for a rewarding career in the jewelry industry. This is true of all industries but I feel it is exceptionally important in the jewelry industry as our supply chain is largely opaque and quite complex. Much work was done to bring about greater transparency and responsible and ethical business practices within the supply chain. Yet gaps still exist—these can present many pitfalls both for one’s business and personal career success.

Tina M. Moretti, head of business development and branding, Goldstar Jewellery: Moretti has more than 29 years of experience in the jewelry industry and joined Goldstar in 2018. In her current role, her responsibilities include driving brand awareness and distinguishing Goldstar’s products from those of its competitors while building and maintaining strong customer loyalty for the brands that the company represents.

Lesson learned: Communication is the true key to success. Clear communication is impactful and helps to build strong and trusting relationships with other people. Listening is also an important part of communication. Exchanging ideas allows us to learn from each other, address problems, and encourage problem-solving. When we communicate in a way that gets people excited, we can achieve our team goals by combining our efforts to innovate and grow. And as a mother of two teenage daughters, I have also learned that patience, flexibility and an open mind are the keys to conflict resolution in a constantly changing environment!

Robyn Fields, vice president, sales, Goldstar Jewellery: Fields has over 25 years of experience in the jewelry industry and possesses a wide array of skills, from design and merchandising to sales and business development. She has a diverse background in the wholesale and retail sectors of the industry, including traditional, TV, and e-commerce segments. She is well-versed in both fine and costume jewelry sales and prides herself on her ability to analyze assortments and form meaningful relationships.

Lesson learned: Believe in yourself and go with your gut instincts. It’s usually right.

Nancy Italia-Gajera, business development executive, Aneri Jewels: Italia-Gajera’s background in GIA diamond sales in Thailand has given her in-depth knowledge of the diamond trade. She also specializes in in data aalytics, providing accurate forecasts to help customers manage their inventory. At Aneri Jewels, transparency and trust are fundamental values, and she has helped to promote these values within Aneri’s team and among its customers. She feels fortunate to be associated with a family business that not only champions gender equality and women’s progress in the industry but also entrusts her with the responsibility of representing the family to their customers. As such, she is also committed to delivering top-quality products that guarantee complete customer satisfaction.

Lesson learned: I’ve learned that when everyone on the team shares the same core values, such as honesty and synergy, it creates an environment where quality-focused actions and conversations become second nature. You’re building a culture, not a company. This has translated into our products, services, and brand, and I’ve seen firsthand how it has led to our success in consistently delivering quality products and service to our customers.

Kristie Nicolosi, president and CEO, The Kingswood Company: Since acquiring the business in 2005, Nicolosi has focused the company on sustained, profitable growth, with 16x growth under her leadership. Nicolosi has also expanded the company’s distribution channels substantially—Kingswood products are now distributed on six continents and to over 12,000 doors worldwide.

Dedicated to the empowerment of women, Nicolosi has long been active in organizations focused on that goal, including the international Board of Directors of the Women’s Jewelry Association, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, and the Women President’s Organization, and recently joined the international Board of Directors of Diamonds Do Good. Prior to acquiring The Kingswood Company, Nicolosi had a successful career in professional services as an executive with both Ernst & Young and Fifth Third Bank.

Lesson learned: I learn something new every day, so this is a tough one!

 From my first boss, I’ve learned that work expands to the time allowed.  This drives a ton of focus on efficiency in our business, and also an acknowledgment of how if you don’t set deadlines, goals and expectations, you will never finish, let alone finish on time.

  • From a WJA ITK Conference I attended many years ago: Ready, Fire, AimThis is a reference to the fact that we don’t have to have things be perfect in order to move forward with an idea or initiative. Most brand building, culture building, team building, customer relationship building, etc. is incremental work that happens over time, and an evolving work in progress.  If we keep our focus on where we are going, and give ourselves permission to evolve, we will get to where we want to go. 
  • From my customers and friends: Gratitude.There are so many people in our industry who have had such a profound impact on the growth and success of our company, whether it was a connection, a referral, a reference, an opportunity, an introduction, an order, or just a willingness to give us a chance. We have always been grateful for the opportunity and have never ceased to make the most of it.

Darshna Rana, senior marketing manager, A. Jaffe : With an impressive background in brand and social media marketing, Rana has been an integral member of the team at A. Jaffe since 2014.

 Lesson learned: Never prioritize quantity over quality. Being meticulous requires more time, however, this means your heirlooms will be sure to stand the test of time.

Alisa Bunger, vice president, U.S. sales & operations, Chic Pistachio: In 1991, Bunger walked into a Kay Jewelers in Tysons Corner, Va. needing a part time job while in college. Fast forward six months and she was addicted to the business. Alisa spent fifteen years working the retail side of jewelry—in operations, training and management roles—before transitioning to wholesale sector. Bunger’s leadership has helped grow sales and retail distribution for several popular jewelry brands over the years which has led to her current roles at Chic Pistachio’s best-selling Ania Haie and Aurelie Gi brands.

Lesson learned: I spent the first half of my jewelry career on the retail side and the second half in the wholesale sector. I’ve learned there’s a path for each of us. Find which path fits you and knock down those barriers to achieve your success. Believe in yourself and find strong mentors who believe in you as well. I’ve been blessed to have two amazing mentors in my career and I wouldn’t be where I am today without either of them.

Theresa Namie, merchandise manager, Ostbye: Namie has worked in product development and marketing for Ostbye for the last six years. She has worked in the jewelry industry in many different capacities—from her high school years onward—including merchandising, sales, and store management.

Lesson learned: The most valuable lesson I have learned is to listen, learn, and apply what feels like the right fit for the company. The industry is not as cut-and-dried as it was many years ago, so we need to be flexible and be willing to make changes to keep current.