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International Pearl Design Competition Opens with New Retail Initiative




(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – The Cultured Pearl Association of America kicked off its Ninth Annual International Pearl Design Competition complete with design category updates, new pricing, and exciting new collaborations with prominent retailers to showcase winning designs.

The CPAA celebrates pearls of all varieties, so it encourages seasoned and award-winning artists and beginners alike to compete in the IPDC. The goal: to create compelling new pearl jewelry designs worthy of recognition, media exposure, and other potential rewards.

Two divisions—international and domestic—are new for this year. Those who live outside the U.S. compete by submitting renderings and sketches only, while those who live within the U.S. will compete in two stages with finished jewels.

The first stage for U.S. contest entrants is submitting professional photographs of completed pieces in one to three different angles (artist’s choice), while the second step will be for three finalists in each awards category except The President’s Trophy (there will only be one winner here). Finalists will be notified and required to mail in their live pieces of finished jewelry for final judging in New York City. Finalists in all categories except The President’s Trophy will then be ranked as First-, Second-, and Third-place winners, while remaining finalist pieces not given a numerical placement will be dubbed commendation recipients and receive certificates. (The President’s Trophy goes to one outstanding design.) All winning pieces will be announced on Nov. 1 and will immediately go on a retail store tour beginning at the Clay Pot in New York City and then traveling to Max’s in Minneapolis, and possibly one other store. Pieces will be for sale at each location. Items that remain unsold move on to the next destination, and all unsold items at the end of the tour will be returned to their makers.

“I am very excited to have the winning designs from this year’s IPDC contest visit Max’s later this year,” says Ellen Hertz, owner of Max’s. “This will be a great opportunity to introduce our customers to some spectacular pieces that we wouldn’t normally have.”

Awards categories are similar to those of years past, with a few minor edits to enhance their relevance. Two new categories also have been added. The Spotlight Award highlights one variety of pearl (akoya this year) and aims to drive attention to the beauty and uniqueness of the different types of pearls available. The Popularity Award will allow CPAA followers on Instagram at @PearlsCPAA to choose their favorite pieces from all the U.S. entries before a final vote online defines the First-, Second-, and Third-Place Winners.


The cost to enter is now $175 for first entry and $150 for each additional entry.

In its 10 years of operation, the IPDC has attracted thousands of entries from more than 40 countries. The contest runs through Sept. 22, 2018. Winners will be announced on Nov. 1, with a cocktail reception occurring that night at the Clay Pot’s Nolita-based shop in Manhattan. Tara Silberberg, the Clay Pot’s owner, will also serve as one of this year’s judges. (Other judges’ names will be released later this year.)

“We see endless possibilities for innovative pearl jewelry designs to inspire a new affinity for cultured pearls,” says Kathy Grenier, marketing manager.

“I’m so pleased to help continue this great tradition of the IPDC and to further elevate it by connecting winning pieces with retailers who appreciate great design,” adds Jennifer Heebner, CPAA executive director.

For awards categories, entry instructions, and complete contest details, log onto




When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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