Roskin Gem News Report

Hedda Schupak, friend, colleague, former JCK magazine editor-in-chief, dead at 62

On a personal note

It’s not supposed to work this way. The older guys are supposed to go first.

I’m almost a decade older than Hedda.

I just cannot wrap my head around this.

Hedda Tamar Schupak-Baum, age 62
February 4, 1961 – October 3, 2023

Our JCK Team 1998 – 2009

The Chilton Building, 2020, still looks pretty much the same.

When I showed up in Radnor, Pennsylvania, early in 1998 for my first professional magazine position as JCK’s gemstone editor, Hedda was already 10 years my senior as a journalist. The magazine was in flux, having just lost 75% of its staff to a newly formed jewelry publication, and JCK was being bought and sold by parent companies in the midst of putting the staff back together.

The physical office was even in transition, moving from Radnor, where it had been for decades in the old Chilton building, to new office space approximately 10 minutes up the road in King of Prussia. [Yes, there’s a city in Pennsylvania named King of Prussia.] This was conveniently closer to where I was living, and especially closer to Hedda, who lived in KoP.

King of Prussia office building 2020 – the brick’s been painted.

Hedda had a natural leadership quality. She was not shy, she was focused, and she could be serious but never making it personal. She challenged us by putting together forward thinking features that kept JCK on the leading edge. She would run ideas by me every few weeks, and we would narrow the copy to a major feature with minor short stories. As a team leader, she was able to home in on our strengths, and promote them in what we were writing. She pushed us to make our work as interesting as possible, without worrying if it would affect advertising. The brick wall between editorial and advertising was thick, and she protected us with everything she had from becoming influenced by sales.

Hedda always pushed me to the deadline but never had me compromise on quality. She was a thoughtful editor, making certain I stayed true to the reader, giving them the extra gem knowledge that I could provide. She never took anything for granted. If she didn’t know, or had never heard of what I was writing about, she’d sit down and ask me to teach her. If she could be taught, then the retailer could as well. “Write it that way,” she’d say.

26th & Park Ave., just around the corner from Madison Square Park

They say she was loyal to her staff, and we were to her. That is true, but understated. In 2003, we were all told that the King of Prussia office was our last move. We believed it, and many of us bought homes to settle in. Six months into 2004, we were told JCK was moving to Manhattan. Most of us were now scared of losing our jobs (and homes). But Hedda fought hard for all of us, succeeding in keeping her editorial staff. They gave us a laptop, a train ticket, and a Blackberry. And so we made the three-hour commute (one way), two or three times a week. Hedda, like most of us, kept her house in PA. We all trained into NYC. Hedda treated us like family, and she wanted to keep it that way. We would probably still be together if not for the financial crisis of 2009.

Respect

She treated us with respect, as a friend and colleague, and we were able to give back 110%.

You may have read Rob Bates’, Anthony DeMarco’s, and Jennifer Heebner’s remembrances. It’s understandable that the four of us would be writing about Hedda. We were all part of that 2000’s JCK team.

I reached out to some of the other team members here:

Frank Dallahan (former publisher, JCK)

I was so sorry to learn of Hedda’s passing. It came as a complete shock. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and especially by those who worked with her. Hedda was a stalwart in the industry, with friends all over the world. 

Jessica Stein-Diamond (former senior editor, JCK)

When I joined JCK as a senior editor in 1997, I was an experienced journalist yet new to the jewelry world. I had two babies at home and juggled work and family as best I could. Hedda was a phenomenal colleague and mentor who generously shared helpful insights and sources. I will forever remember her diva-like entrance at JCK conferences: she would stride to a longtime friend’s booth, stretch out her arms and say, “Dress me.” She would emerge adorned with jewelry, testament to her trusted and respected status in the jewelry world. Her influence (and confidence) inspired so many of us in the jewelry world, especially her women colleagues.

Barbara Spector (former managing editor, JCK)

I worked with Hedda at JCK from 1998 to 2000. When she became the magazine’s editor-in-chief, I served briefly as her managing editor. In later years, when I was editor-in-chief of Family Business Magazine, the tables were turned; she wrote freelance articles under my direction. No matter who was serving in what role, we enjoyed working together. Our professional give-and-take made me a better writer and editor.

Hedda had strong opinions: about sales strategies, artful design, professional ethics, skillful wordsmithing and, of course, cilantro. On the former topics, she helped influence the industry, winning awards in the process. On the latter, she brooked no compromise (she would not let it anywhere near her plate). She could be counted on to liven up a dull or stressful workday with a funny remark. At the lunch table, she made sure everyone was included in the conversation. She loved animals (especially her family of cats) and would happily swap stories with other pet owners. She also loved fashion: She not only would show up to events beautifully styled, but also could be counted on to offer advice to those of us with less refined sartorial sensibilities.

Hedda was attentive to detail in her writing, her personal style and her friendships. She remembered things about you that you mentioned offhandedly. She maintained close connections over many years and across oceans.

She was devoted to her family, her friends and her community. She and her dear husband, Jim Baum, opened their home to dozens of guests for holiday celebrations. She was a gracious and generous hostess, cooking delicious meals and setting elegantly appointed tables. Her many friends will miss her terribly.

Richard Dalglish (former managing editor, JCK):

Hedda had a natural presence that commanded attention, but she was genuinely friendly and interested in other people. She was smart and well informed beyond jewelry and could discuss virtually any topic that came up, so it was always fun to talk to her. She had a sense of humor, coining “Bonehedda” if she did something that she later decided was dumb. I came up with “Heddatorial” for her monthly editorials, and she always referred to them that way. One of my favorite parts of the JCK production cycle was coming up with cover lines, just the two of us in her office. (OK, Hedda came up with 99 percent of them, and I was there for her to bounce them off.) I became managing editor soon after Hedda became editor in chief, and I remember what she said to me then: “We can do this.” I replied, “Yes, we can.” (And we did.) She also said, “Your job is to keep me sane.” That’s my all-time favorite job description.

Final Words

Many of us from those days at JCK will never forget.

To Hedda, our friend and colleague, from Rich, Rob, Tony, Jennifer, Jessica, Barbara, Frank, myself, and the entire 2000s JCK team, we will miss you.

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