How the NDC’s Gabrielle Grazi Made the Most of a Rare Opportunity

Multifaceted leadership: Meet the Natural Diamond Council’s vice president of retail strategy and partnerships.

April 2, 2024  |  Sonia Esther Soltani

Can you tell us more about your role at the NDC?

The Natural Diamond Council is committed to inspiring and educating consumers on the values of natural diamonds. I joined the NDC in June 2020. Hard to believe that was almost four years ago, remotely, during a pandemic! I was charged with building our Official Partner Retail Jeweler program and education platform. I get to work with best-in-class retailers at all levels — independent, luxury, direct-to-consumer, and regional/large chains.

How did you start in the diamond industry?

I spent three decades in retail leadership and transitioned to jewelry when Jamie Singleton, current president and chief commercial officer of Signet Jewelers, hired me to work with her on her first business transformation, which turned into seven incredible years at Signet Jewelers.

After 30 years in retail leadership, I was ripe for change when I met Kristina Buckley Kayel, managing director of the NDC (which was the Diamond Producers Association at the time), at a Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) event. We struck up a random conversation, which then led to my new role. She offered me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pivot my career, expand my skill set and broaden my industry experience.

Who have been the most inspiring people for you?

Phyllis Bergman is an industry icon and fairy godmother to so many in this industry. Her generosity of spirit is unmatched, and her professional guidance has been most meaningful.

Every time I see Tommy Aucoin, Sr., CEO of Aucoin Hart Jewelers, I learn something new about natural diamonds.

And I am inspired by NDC CEO David Kellie’s vision and ambitions for our team and the beautiful global campaigns he has envisioned and created in support of natural diamonds.

The Hope Diamond.
(Penland, Smithsonian Institution, enhanced by SquareMoose Inc.)

What do you like the most about the diamond industry?

What is not to like about natural diamonds! The diamond industry has made such a positive impact on global communities around the world. We have created a master blueprint for sustainability efforts.

What is the most extraordinary diamond story you’ve come across in your career?

Grant Mobley, Only Natural Diamonds’ jewelry and watch editor, is always sharing incredible stories on our platform. [There are] so many, it would be hard to pick one amazing diamond story. When I was a child, I do recall viewing the Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian and being absolutely mesmerized.

How do you see your new role as national president- elect of the WJA?

It is a pivotal moment for the WJA, and current president Susan Chandler and I have been working closely together behind the scenes for the last two years on rebuilding the foundation and modernizing the organization.

We want to provide impactful networking and development opportunities for women at every level of their career and in every facet of our industry. In 2023, the [WJA] Foundation, in partnership with the Fortunoff family, launched a retail scholarship in honor of [late jeweler] Helene Fortunoff.

This year, we launched a media and communications scholarship in honor of [late JCK editor in chief] Hedda Schupak, in partnership with [her husband] Jim Baum. Expanding membership, increasing sponsorship and building the ranks of our chapters across North America will be a focus in 2024 and beyond.

Main image: Gabrielle Grazi. (Natural Diamond Council)

This article is from the March-April 2024 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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How the NDC’s Gabrielle Grazi Made the Most of a Rare Opportunity

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