When I write an obituary for this blog, it’s often for someone with a household name, such as David Bowie. This time, it’s more personal. If you’re not in the fine-jewelry community, you may not have heard of Cindy Edelstein, but I encourage you to read about her anyway, because she is a role model for upstanding behavior in any industry or workplace. Cindy died suddenly from heart failure on Sunday. She was 51.
Cindy did so much for so many in the jewelry world that no standard job title captures the breadth of her career. Therefore, I’m going to go with her Twitter handle: JewelryBizGuru. Here are two of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word “guru”:
- A teacher or guide that you trust.
- A person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular subject.
Plenty of people are called gurus — or call themselves gurus — because they’re the second of those two definitions. They have lots of experience and knowledge. But how many of them have the heart to act as “a teacher or guide that you trust”? It was in that role that Cindy shone like no one else. I came to know her because she took a special interest in emerging designers. She made me think of the advice given by the late Carmel Snow, the Harper’s Bazaar’s editor, who told fashion editor Polly Mellen, “Go see every designer everywhere. You never know where the next talent is coming from.” I’ll tell you that not many people make me think of that quote. But Cindy went out of her way to showcase new or smaller designers and connect them to other people in the industry.
“How can I help you?,” Cindy asked on her website’s About Us page. Like the word “guru,” that phrase tells you how Cindy treated people — whether they were designers, store owners, sales people, editors, bloggers or practically any other fine-jewelry-related role you can think of. For more on how she helped others, here are some quotes from and links to a few of the tributes:
- Barbara Palumbo of Adornmentality: “Cindy Edelstein was exactly what I needed at a time when I had no idea what it was I needed.”
- Michelle Graf of National Jeweler: “Cindy could tell people exactly what she thought without offending them, and they were better off for it. She knew how to be honest while being nurturing and encouraging at the same time.”
- Trace Shelton of InStore: “Cindy was one of those rare people who knew everyone in the room and yet still had a space at the table for you.”
- Rob Bates of JCK: “Edelstein was known as a tireless advocate for designers and jewelry design in general. But she always reminded the burgeoning talents she worked with to never lose track of the commercial realities of the business.”
- Andrea Hansen of Luxe Intelligence: “Mentor, loyal friend, supporter, champion, force of nature.”
- Amber Michelle of Rapaport Magazine: “Cindy celebrated design and through her many projects, she made sure that the rest of us celebrated with her.”
Cindy is survived by her husband and business partner, Frank Stankus; her daughter Remy Sasha Stankus; her stepson Byron David Stankus; and her brother Philip Edelstein. Jewelry designer Erica Courtney has created a YouCaring page for Remy’s college fund here.