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Twenty-Four Karat Club Reflects On Tradition And Industry Change

Twenty-Four Karat Club Reflects On Tradition And Industry Change As the fine jewelry industry adapts to a rapidly changing market, so are many of its own institutions adapting and changing. Not least among these is one of the industry’s most storied and revered organizations, the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York, an organization whose long-standing history and traditions stand out even in an industry deeply steeped in tradition.

But in recent years the Twenty-Four Karat Club has made some significant changes: first, addressing the growing diversity of the jewelry industry, the Club no longer requires members to be American citizens. Members must be permanent legal residents of the United States and be committed to the U.S. fine jewelry industry, but they don’t have to wait until they become U.S. citizens to be proposed for membership.

Second, two years ago the Club decided to experiment with revealing the name of the featured entertainment prior to the Banquet. “We’ve received very positive feedback after we decided to announce the entertainment ahead of the Banquet starting in 2016. Keeping it a secret until the evening added a fun element of surprise, but in an age where sharing everything is the norm, it was the right time to change up the tradition,” says Club chairman Jeffrey Fischer.

Third, the Banquet itself has a new home. After more than a century at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the annual banquet moved to the New York Hilton Midtown while the Waldorf is closed for a three-year renovation. Club members were understandably anxious about whether the change in venue would impact the grand, elegant feel of the banquet, the most prestigious event on the jewelry industry’s social calendar and arguably the industry’s most longstanding tradition.

The answer? Not at all!

In fact, many members and guests immediately liked the Hilton better for its easier movement between the various rooms and suites where different cocktail receptions and after-dinner events were taking place.

Addressing more than 1,000 guests at the January 20 event, Club president Ronnie VanderLinden told the audience, “It proves that while tradition matters, it’s really the people, not the place, that matter most.”

Many traditions remain: The dinner began, as always, with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, led by Daniel Rodriguez, the former New York City police officer who stepped down from the force to pursue patriotic singing full time after the 9/11 terror attacks. Originally, the West Point Glee Club of the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, had been tapped to lead the anthem, but the U.S. government shutdown that had begun 19 hours earlier meant the cadets were restricted to base and could not perform.

The invocation before dinner also remained in Club tradition, which is to rotate clergy of different faiths each year to represent all its members. This year’s invocation was offered by Rabbi Steve Meltz of Chavurah Beth Shalom in Alpine, NJ.

“You’re very blessed to be in the industry you’re in, that allows you to use your talents and creativity to their fullest. May you all be blessed with a healthy and successful 2018,” he said.

Guests also raved about the evening’s entertainment, which this year featured American Idol legend Katharine McPhee, sponsored by Bulova.

After the performance, guests returned to various suites for dessert, and then danced the night away at the Club’s midnight “Bash” in the Hilton’s Trianon Suite, featuring the music of Brass Attack, a longtime favorite of the Club. Those who preferred a more subdued environment were invited to a quiet jazz lounge in the nearby Petite Trianon Suite.

The Club continues to add new features for members: its quarterly lunches and annual Beefsteak Dinner rotate among a variety of five-star restaurants that New York City offers, and more member enhancements will be added later this year.

In 2019, the Club’s gala invitation-only Banquet will return to its traditional second Saturday in January, and will be held January 12, 2019, at the New York Hilton Midtown.
AT: 02/28/2018 02:12:41 PM   LINK TO THIS NEWSLETTER

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