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MJSA Announces Winners of 2012 Vision Award Competition

Vision Award Winners

Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry in Laguna Beach, California, won first place in the professional Design Excellence category of the 2012 Vision Awards competition, which recognizes outstanding jewelry design prowess and technical skill. He is one of 13 designers who who won Vision Awards this year; aill be honored at MJSA Expo New York, which runs March 11-13 at the Hilton New York.

The awards this year included Design Excellence and Visionary Technical Solution, as well as several Distinction Categories: Gold, Laser, Palladium, Platinum, and Custom Design, the latter to honor the growing number of jewelers who are designing their own jewelry for clients. In addition, a "Future of the Industry" award recognized the designs of students enrolled in jewelry making and design programs.

The 2012 winners are:


1st Place—Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry in Laguna Beach, California, for Moonlight and Caviar ring showcasing a 12 mm AAA South Sea pearl, which sits upon 2.52 tcw of pavé-set black diamonds. The ring was crafted in 14k X1 white gold and set with 1.20 tcw of white diamonds around the entire trim. This design was fully realized using CAD technology to create the precise, geometric forms.  

2nd Place—Gregoré Morin of Gregoré Joailliers in Santa Barbara, California, for Bamboo earrings with chrysophrase, 950 platinum, Mexican fire opal, and white and black diamonds.


1st Place—Edward Mirell of Edward Mirell in Deerfield Beach, Florida, for Safari Gold & Black Ti Ring with black titanium and 14k gold, featuring the co-casting of contemporary and precious metals using new technology.  

2nd Place—Julie Buckareff of JJ Buckar in Toronto for Blue Zircon Diamond Rope ring with 950 platinum, a 7.05 carat blue zircon, and 1,006 diamonds totaling 3.04 carats. The ring was designed around a concept of "celestial diamond rope" and the challenge of this design was to keep the round wire or "rope" effect throughout. The stone could not be bezel set in a traditional manner without destroying the round contour. The design also calls for a seamless connection of all parts with no visible polished metal showing when the ring is worn. This means diamonds must be set all the way around the thin round wire. The round contour is then set with as many as five rows of diamonds-impossible to lay out by hand in any efficient manner.

NOTE: Buckareff also won 2nd Place Laser Distinction for this ring, due to the complex laser welding of six separately cast pieces in platinum, accomplished at various points in the diamond setting process.


1st Place—Julie Lynn Romanenko of Just Jules LLC in Scottsdale, Arizona, for Gold Cuff in 14k gold, cast and hand fabricated with a 1.66 carat diamond slice, surrounded by 0.25 carat brilliant round diamonds. Individual sections of the bracelet were cast and then hand-assembled.

2nd Place—Liaung Chung Yen in Henrietta, New York, for The Garden brooch/pendant in 18k gold, brown and white diamonds, pearls, and steel. The concave discs with the cutouts, pods, and pearls are scattered, with the linear elements linking them all together. The pod elements are loosely attached to create sounds when worn.


1st Place—Julie Buckareff of JJ Buckar in Toronto for Rock Crystal Quartz Flower brooch with rock crystal quartz, white diamonds, natural color pink diamonds, Peruvian opal, 18k rose gold, and palladium. This piece was completely assembled with the use of a laser welder. For a seamless finish or "black line" joint where the palladium meets the 18k red, the artist and her team welded the components from the top side throughout. As the rock crystal could not handle any heat, they were able to mechanically fasten the flower center and the flower head itself only with the use of a laser welder. The rose gold stem was welded together during assembly in order to conceal the seams. The piece could not have been made to this quality standard without the use of laser welding.

2nd Place-Julie Buckareff of JJ Buckar in Toronto for Blue Zircon Diamond Rope ring, described previously.


1st Place—Brian Sholdt of Sholdt in Seattle for Palladium Engagement Ring featuring the artist’s Fern Finish in a solitaire engagement ring with a 6.5 mm diamond. The metal weight is 2.75 dwt. in 950 palladium. 

2nd Place—Susan Drake of Spectrum Art & Jewelry in Wilmington, North Carolina, for Green Flash ring, from a hand-carved wax that was cast in palladium and set with a 7.77 carat mint-green tourmaline; an oval flat-top cut, channel-set 1.23 carat hot pink spinel; and 0.64 tcw round, channel-set diamonds.


1st Place—Brian Sholdt of Sholdt in Seattle for Platinum Ring with a Fern Finish milled surface that allows the jeweler to finish it with hand milgraining. The casting is 90 percent platinum and 10 percent iridium. The weight is 6.47 dwt. and the top diameter is 15 mm. The 23 diamonds weigh a total of 0.30 carat. 

2nd Place—Mark Schneider of Mark Schneider Designs in Long Beach, California, for Manta Ray brooch, featuring black onyx, 0.29 tcw emerald cabochons, 0.108 tcw fancy yellow diamonds, and 1.753 tcw white diamonds.


1st Place—Mark Schneider of Mark Schneider Designs in Long Beach, California, for Black and White Ring in 14k white gold using black and white acrylic, a magnet, and black and white diamonds.

2nd Place—Cynthia Renee of Cynthia Renee Inc. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for Fireball Ring featuring a vivid 22.44 carat spessartite garnet (Nigeria) and crafted from 18k yellow gold, 14k rose gold and platinum; engraved in shank. The garnet is accented by five flames of gemstones in graduated colors representing the color progression in a flame: fancy intense yellow diamond, yellow sapphire, red spinel, spessartite garnet, one 2.5 mm white round diamond for accent, and two blue sapphires.

The artist crafted the design with a client from San Diego County, California, where spreading fires are a natural occurrence in the dry landscape. The client and her family had survived a devastating fire that threatened to engulf their home before they were all evacuated. The home survived and the ring celebrates a phoenix rising from the ashes to commemorate the family’s experience. The client wanted a bombe-shape ring with long sweeps of flame that would overlap at places and show airspace between them-much like the real flames of the fire. Renee thought it would be interesting to accent a few flames with a color progression of gems similar to the color progression in actual flames, with blue representing the hottest part of the flame.


1st Place-Ariel Alexandrou of University of Kansas, for her Pods ring.

2nd Place (TIE)-Youngjoo Yoo of University of Iowa, for her Laurel brooch.

2nd Place (TIE)-Bongsang Cho of Savannah College of Art & Design, for her Stellar Brooch #9.

The judges of this year’s competition were Michael Coan, Fashion Institute of Technology; Cindy Edelstein, Jeweler’s Resource Bureau; Sarah Graham, Sarah Graham Metalsmithing; Todd Reed, Todd Reed Inc.; Marlene Richey, Consultant; and Tina Snyder, MJSA.

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