Open to all independent or company-employed designers, the Professional Design Excellence Category celebrates work that exemplifies the best of contemporary jewelry design. The winners show a thorough grounding in the tradition of fine design, along with an eagerness for experimentation and innovation. By meeting the highest standards of craftsmanship and creativity, these designs truly deserve their award-winning status.
Klaus Kutter, A Jour Jewelry Inc., Bristol, Rhode Island
Tourmaline Ring. This ring was designed in CAD and broken down into 17 parts; some of those parts were created with a 3-D printer, and the rest were milled in wax. The whole piece was cast in 19k white gold from Argen, an alloy that Klaus says does not need to be rhodium plated and iis very hard (a crucial factor in making this design possible) All 17 parts were assembled by laser; together, they form a true avant-garde piece. One of the biggest challenges of this design, Klaus adds, is that everything appears to be "floating.". www.AJourJewelry.com.
Ian Douglas, Inspired Jewellery, Wellington, New Zealand
"Legend of Maui" Pendant. When the designer came into possession of a 232.14 carat, natural blue, triangular cabochon topaz, he knew it was destined for a magnificent piece of jewelry. When one of the Inspired Jewellery team described its appearance as a "swirling ocean filled with all sorts of wonders," Ian remembered the New Zealand folklore legend of Maui, a Maori demigod, fishing up the North Island. The topaz pendant, it was decided, would represent Maui’s tale in art form. The pendant is entirely handmade—not one piece of the item has been cast or prototyped. Visit www.TheInspiredCollection.com.
Baiyang Qiu, BQ Jewelry, Milpitas, California
"Emerging" Brooch/Pendant. Inspired by nature’s intelligent patterns, this hand-fabricated brooch/pendant showcases a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. 28 gauge gold wire and oxidized sterling silver are used to represent different stages of the chrysalis; the oxidized sterling structures depict the dried-out husk, while the emerging butterfly is created from 28 gauge wire. Note how the outstretched wing gradually changes from 18k yellow to 18k red. Visit www.BaiyangJewelry.com.
Gina Ferranti, GiGi Ferranti Jewelry, Brooklyn, New York
"Shangri-La" Ring. This 18k rose gold ring has a 15.38 ct., asymmetrical peachy-pink morganite center stone, secured with four prongs. The spiraling bezel is decorated with 141 bead-set white diamonds (0.97 ctw), as well as bead-set fancy pink diamonds (0.54 ctw) and three pear-shaped, prong-set aquamarines (0.67 ctw). Visit www.gigiferrantijewelry.com.
"Pink Buddha" Earrings. Gregoré had wanted to do this design for over 10 years, but knew he could not achieve by hand the detail needed in the Buddha face. A few years ago he began to experiment with the use of CAD and CNC to cut gemstones, and that made all the difference; his winning pair of earrings is the culmination of those efforts.
The process started, the designer says, with his spending hours perfecting a Buddha face in 3D-Coat, a digital sculpting program. He ported that file to Matrix/Rhino and ran tool paths through a Rhino-based CAM program called Madcam. Then, using a CNC mill, he cut several wax models to inspect the quality of the face, each time making adjustments in 3D-Coat until he had the features exactly right. He then cut the image into the pink opal, using diamond tooling to achieve the desired finish.
Not only did CAD enable him to achieve the detail needed, but he can use the file to create other items of adornment—not only earrings, but also pendants and even rings (by bendning the image around a ring surface). CAD and CNC have allowed him to make huge leaps forward in what was once an impossible project. Visit www.gregorejoailliers.com.
Our thanks to the CAD/CAM Distinction 2016 sponsor:
"Bubble" Brooch/Pendant. This piece was inspired by the memory of playing with bubbles, the simple, endless fun almost everyone has enjoyed as a child. The hand-fabricated, vine-like wire work (made of 29 gauge platinum) becomes a three-dimensional line drawing that brings lightness, release, and gaiety.
A laser was required to make each of the fine-gauge wire joints very clean and strong. Since the brooch/pendant contains more than three hundred joints, using a traditional soldering technique would have been very difficult, if not impossible. Visit www.baiyangjewelry.com.
Our thanks to the Laser Distinction 2016 sponsor:
"Medallion" Bracelet/Pendant. This jeweled medallion can be worn in the black or white hand-formed Lucite cuff bracelets or as a pendant. Crafted in 18k yellow, 14k white gold, and platinum, the piece features a 20.52 ct. yellow danburite, tanzanites, tsavorites, and red spinel.
Cynthia’s story: "Creating jewelry for a client is an intimate process. I’ve worked with this client on many involved jewelry projects, though this entry required more hours of work and problem-solving than any project in my career thus far.
"When she [the client] saw my rare yellow danburite, which is the focal point of this jewel, she snapped it up. Combining my client’s desire for an interchangeable medallion bracelet/pendant, her delight in jewel tones, and her long-time interest in the crest/mandala/Maltese cross motifs, we came up with the plan to build a symmetrical jewel speaking to those interests.
"I worked closely with my client while sourcing gemstones using iPhone videos and photos, and we created the jewel menagerie. One big problem we had to overcome was that the bracelet forms were curved on all directions, requiring the medallion to also be curved (not flat, as it would be on a flat-topped bangle). But the curved medallion would also need to be worn as a graceful pendant. We sketched various bracelet layouts and engineering concepts as a starting point, eventually inputting the gem dimensions in CAD to accomplish further scaled conceptualization. We eventually decided to carve out a “carton” into the Lucite bracelet into which the jewel would clip and anchor on the bracelet’s reverse side. One of the reasons we decided on white gold over platinum for encasing the central gems was because of weight concerns in securely anchoring the piece. The result fit the client’s desires perfectly."
Our thanks to the Custom Design Distinction 2016 sponsor:
Black Diamond Tennis Bracelet. The Black Diamond Tennis Bracelet reflects Sandy Leong’s travels to the mineral-rich district of Jaipur, India: It showcases one-of-a-kind fancy and natural black diamonds to create dramatic inclusions. It also is the epitome of responsible practices. Conscientious of the long-term impact of mining, Sandy Leong thoughtfully handcrafted the bracelet in 18k recycled yellow gold with 23.46 ctw of ethically sourced fancy diamonds. Conflict-free white diamond pavé finishing lends a refined polish.
The bracelet is part of a Black Diamond Collection in which natural materials are sculpted by global artisans—Sandy strives to support local craftsmanship and preserve traditional design methods. All production is done locally in New York through sustainable manufacturers who are transparent about their commitment to sustainability. Visit www.sandyleongjewelry.com.
Our thanks to the Responsible Practices 2016 sponsor:
Open to any student enrolled in an art, design, or jewelry-related program at a college, university, or a proprietary technical school, the Future of the Industry Awards celebrate the talent that will lead the jewelry industry into the future. Showing both promise and passion, these designs mark the emergence of a new generation that continues the industry’s commitment to craftsmanship.
"Union" and "The Wish" (tie). Seung adapted the traditional granulation technique (in which small metal balls are fused to a base surface) to create pieces in which metal particles appear to "float." Using Rhino 3-D software, he arranged the wires and positioned the granules. Based on the CAD drawing, he welded the 32-gauge wires to the frame with a laser, then fused the gold granules (14k for "Union," 24k and 18k for "Wish") onto the wires.
Leg Adornment. This leg adornment uses wires in different shapes that are tightly arranged and continuously overlap, giving the work a dramatic tension. The piece in split into two parts that are attached by screw spikes for wearability and incorporate cloisonné enameling. "The cloisonné changed from big to small in accordance with the outline of the leg," Jizhi says, "not only adding color and delicacy to the entire work, but vivifying it with variation in size."
Our thanks to the Future of the Industry sponsor:
Click here to view the 2015 Vision Award Winners.
Click here to view the 2014 Vision Award Winners.