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AGTA Reveals Winners of 2017 Spectrum Awards

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‘Best of Show’ and other awards were announced.

(Press Release) NEW YORK, NY — The American Gem Trade Association has announced the winners of the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards. The competition was held in New York on Aug. 5 and 6. The judges for the competition this year were: Arun Bohra, Arunashi; Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers; Sherris Cottier Shank, Gemscapes; Alishan Halebian, Alishan; Holly Wesche, Wesche Jewelers.

“The entire staff was immediately impressed as the entries started coming in; it seemed that the quality and artistry of the pieces has ascended to a new level. The number of entries increased and clearly the caliber of entries was exceptional,” said Douglas K. Hucker, AGTA CEO. “It is evident that the entrants take this competition very seriously and that the AGTA Spectrum Awards and the AGTA Cutting Edge Awards continue to be the premier design competition in the world. Of course, this also makes the work of the judges demonstratively more difficult. We were blessed with an outstanding group of judges that were consummate professionals, that demonstrated an amazing level of synergy, and this is apparent in the selections that they made.”

Winners of the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards:

 

 


Best of Show: Mikola Kukharuk, Nomad’s – Pair of neon blue tourmalines (53.56 ctw.).


Best Use of Color: Naomi Sarna, Naomi Sarna Designs – 18K and 24K yellow and 18K white gold maple leaf earrings featuring multicolored diamonds, sapphires and garnets.

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Best Use of Pearls: Naomi Sarna, Naomi Sarna Designs – Freshwater cultured Pearls strung with sunstone beads with an 18K yellow gold and black rhodium clasp set with white, pink and green diamonds.


Best Use of Platinum and Color: Eddie Sakamoto, Somewhere in the Rainbow – Platinum “Dancing Waves” neck collar featuring a 57.0 ct. aquamarine accented with diamonds (8.0 ctw.).


Fashion Forward: Ardeshir Dabestani, Asha Gallery, Ltd. – 18K white and yellow gold “Solar Flare” back-drop necklace featuring a 436.0 ct. citrine accented with aquamarines (44.50 ctw.), yellow beryls (87.30 ctw.) and diamonds (23.54 ctw.).

 
 

Bridal Wear


Bridal Wear – 1st Place: Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. – 18K white gold and rhodium “Double the Love” ring featuring a 12.62 ct. heart-shaped blue zircon accented with a .75 ct. heart-shaped diamond and diamond pave (1.53 ctw.).

Bridal Wear – 2nd Place Bridal Wear and WJA Gem DIVA Award: Lindsay Jane, Lindsay Jane Designs – Platinum “Butterfly” earrings featuring detachable drops of boulder opal (39.92 ctw.) accented with zoisites (2.10 ctw.), diamonds (1.02 ctw.) and paraiba tourmalines (.10 ctw.).

Bridal Wear – 3rd Place: Judy Evans, Oliver & Espig Gallery of Fine Arts – Platinum and 18K yellow gold ring featuring a 15.3mm South Sea golden cultured pearl accented with white diamonds (1.17 ctw.) and yellow diamonds (1.12 ctw.).

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Bridal Wear – Honorable Mention: Zoltan David, Somewhere In The Rainbow – Knight steel, 18K and 24K yellow gold, platinum “Falling Waters” necklace featuring 1mm – 3.20mm keshi cultured pearls accented with diamonds (1.70 ctw.).

Bridal Wear – Manufacturing Honors: Randy Coffin, Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers – Platinum ring featuring a 4.42 ct. oval red spinel accented with round red spinels (1.41 ctw.) and diamonds (1.27 ctw.).

Bridal Wear – Entry Platinum Innovation: Leon Mege, Leon Mege Inc. – Platinum “Bellflower” ring featuring a 3.28 ct. blue sapphire cabochon accented with diamonds (.80 ctw.) and a blue sapphire (.03 ctw.).

Bridal Wear – Platinum Honors: Craig Slavens, Studio 247 Fine Jewelry – Platinum ring featuring a 4.15 ct. paraiba tourmaline accented with diamonds (1.25 ctw.).

 

Business/Day Wear


Business/Day Wear – 1st Place: Adam Neeley, Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry – 18K rose and 14K rose and white gold “Cosmos” pendant featuring a 24.06 ct. specialty-cut morganite accented with diamonds (3.14 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear – 2nd Place: Llyn Strong, llyn strong fine art jewelry – lapis lazuli necklace (155.0 ctw.) featuring an 18K yellow gold clasp and a 30.90 ct. boulder opal accented with black diamonds (.75 ctw.), tsavorite garnets (.20 ctw.), rubies (.12 ctw.) and sapphires (.07 ctw.).

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Business/Day Wear – 3rd Place: Mimi Favre, Mimi Favre Studio – Platinum “Waterdrop” earrings featuring detachable tanzanite drops (25.50 ctw.) on sapphire studs (1.75 ctw.) with white sapphires (.58 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear – Honorable Mention: Leon Mege, Leon Mege, Inc. – Platinum “La Petite” bracelet with nine ring charms featuring rubies, aquamarines, garnets, amethysts, sapphires, tourmalines and spinels.

Business/Day Wear – Honorable Mention: Omi Prive, Somewhere in The Rainbow – 18K rose gold “Le ‘Elegance'” ring featuring a red tourmaline accented with diamonds and tsavorite garnets.

Business/Day Wear – Manufacturing Honors: Gregore Morin, Gregore & Jennifer-Rabe Jewelers – 18K white gold and aluminum earrings featuring freshwater cultured pearls (32.10 ctw.) accented with purple garnets (12.98 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear – Platinum Honors: John Ford, Lightning Ridge Collection by John Ford – Platinum bracelet featuring black opals (24.02 ctw.) accented with diamonds (1.72 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear – Entry Platinum Innovation: Leon Mege, Leon Mege, Inc. – Platinum “La Petite” bracelet with nine ring charms featuring rubies, aquamarines, garnets, amethysts, sapphires, tourmalines and spinels.

Business/Day Wear – WJA Gem DIVA Award: Pam Harris, Lost Bird Designs – 14K pink gold bracelet featuring an 8x15mm peach moonstone, oval and marquise-cut coral, turquoise and black diamonds.

 

Classical


Classical – 1st Place: Allen Kleiman, A. Kleiman & Co. – Platinum and 18K pink gold earrings featuring unheated oval pink sapphires (36.65 ctw.) accented with diamonds (5.09 ctw.).

Classical – 2nd Place: Niveet Nagpal, Omi Prive – Platinum and black rhodium ring featuring a 20.03 ct. cushion-cut blue sapphire accented with blue sapphires (.76 ctw.), baguette diamonds (1.07 ctw.) and round diamonds (.63 ctw.).

Classical – 3rd Place: Oscar Heyman, Oscar Heyman – Platinum ring featuring a 32.30 ct. cat’s-eye chrysoberyl.

Classical – Honorable Mention: Varouj Tabakian, Jewellery by Varouj – 18K tricolored gold and platinum “Northern Lights” pendant featuring a 3.79 ct. specialty-cut rubellite tourmaline accented with baguette diamonds (.68 ctw.) and round diamonds (1.61 ctw.).

Classical – Honorable Mention: Oscar Heyman, Oscar Heyman – Platinum ring featuring a 19.40 ct. bicolored tourmaline accented with diamonds.

Classical – Manufacturing Honors: Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. – 18K yellow and rhodium “Blue Lagoon” ring featuring a 13.99 ct. cushion-cut blue zircon accented with diamond melee (1.32 ctw.).

Classical – Platinum Honors: Michael Endlich, Pave Fine Jewelry – Platinum “Deep Lagoon” ring featuring an 8.33 ct. tourmaline accented with diamonds (.46 ctw.).

 

Evening Wear


Evening Wear – 1st Place and Best Use of Platinum and Color: Eddie Sakamoto, Somewhere in the Rainbow – Platinum “Dancing Waves” neck collar featuring a 57.0 ct. aquamarine accented with diamonds (8.0 ctw.).

Evening Wear – 2nd Place and Best Use of Color: Naomi Sarna, Naomi Sarna Designs – 18K and 24K yellow and 18K white gold maple leaf earrings featuring multicolored diamonds, sapphires and garnets.

Evening Wear – 3rd Place: Caroline Chartouni, Caroline C – Platinum ring featuring an 8.09 ct. oval pink sapphire accented with round and pear pink sapphires (9.84 ctw.) and diamonds (8.67 ctw.).

Evening Wear – Honorable Mention: Victoria Tse, VTse Inc. – 18K white gold ring featuring a 33.41 ct. harlequin Australian black opal accented with baguette diamond pave (6.54 ctw.) and diamond melee (2.11 ctw.).

Evening Wear – Honorable Mention: Erica Courtney, Erica Courtney Inc. – 18K yellow gold “Genie” earrings featuring a pair of mint grossular garnets (5.22 ctw.) accented with diamonds (5.69 ctw.) and mint grossular garnets (1.90 ctw.).

Evening Wear – Manufacturing Honors: Zoltan David, Somewhere In The Rainbow – 24K yellow gold, palladium, purple steel and 18K yellow gold “Star Flower” necklace featuring a 28.14 ct. tourmaline accented with gray sapphires (.58 ctw.) and color-change garnets (.73 ctw.).

Evening Wear – Platinum Honors: John Ford, Lightning Ridge Collection by John Ford – Platinum earrings featuring oval black opals (11.70 ctw.) accented with diamonds (2.0 ctw.).

Evening Wear – WJA Gem DIVA Award: Dallas Prince, Dallas Prince Designs – 14K white gold “Pink Peony” ring featuring multi-shades of pink spinels (12.93 ctw.) accented with diamonds (1.45 ctw.).

 

Men’s Wear


Men’s Wear – 1st Place: Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. – 18K yellow gold with black rhodium “Estrella” ring featuring a 7.50 ct. starburst trapiche sapphire accented with black diamonds (.64 ctw.) and yellow sapphire melee (.52 ctw.).

Men’s Wear – 2nd Place: Peter Schmid, French Designer Jeweler – 18K rose gold and platinum ring featuring a 15.74 ct. garnet accented with a pink diamond, green diamond and white diamonds (.04 ctw.).

Men’s Wear – 3rd Place: Dawn Muscio, D. Muscio Designs – 18K yellow gold and stainless steel ring featuring a 4.39 ct. emerald-cut green tourmaline accented with amethysts (.06 ctw.) and diamonds (.05 ctw.).

Men’s Wear – Honorable Mention: Llyn L. Strelau, Jewels by Design – 18K yellow and 19K white gold “Man Cave” cufflinks featuring octahedrite meteorite carvings accented with blue sapphires (1.55 ctw.), yellow sapphires (1.46 ctw.) and yellow diamonds (.75 ctw.).

Men’s Wear – Honorable Mention and Platinum Honors: Randy Coffin, Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers – Platinum ring featuring an 8.52 ct. cushion-cut violet spinel accented with red spinels (1.48 ctw.) and diamonds (.27 ctw.) and inlaid with gibeon meteorite.

Men’s Wear – Manufacturing Honors: Niveet Nagpal, Omi Prive – 18K white gold with black rhodium ring featuring a 1.07 ct. emerald-cut alexandrite accented with diamonds (.60 ctw.) and alexandrites (.08 ctw.).

 

AGTA Cutting Edge Awards

 
All Other Faceted


All Other Faceted – 1st Place: Brett Kosnar, Beija Flor Wholesale – 24.26 ct. round, Portuguese-cut rhodochrosite.

All Other Faceted – 2nd Place: Ruben Bindra, B & B Fine Gems – 6.49 ct. square East African natural tsavorite garnet.

All Other Faceted – 3rd Place: Hemant Phophaliya, A G Color Inc. – 22.15 ct. fancy-shaped tanzanite, “Superman.”

All Other Faceted – Honorable Mention: Ruben Bindra, B & B Fine Gems – 5.06 ct. triangular-cut natural benitoite.


 
Carving


Carving – 1st Place: Meg Berry, Pala International – 625.0 ct. chyrsocolla with druzy quartz carving, titled “Metamorphosis.”

Carving – 2nd Place: Dalan Hargrave, GemStarz Jewelry – Freestyle carved sunstone chameleon named “Henry.”

Carving – 3rd Place: John Dyer, John Dyer & Co. – 115.71 ct. morganite carving, titled “Joyful Morganite.”

Carving – Honorable Mention: Bernie Benavidez, Master Jewelers – Opal freeform carving (72.07 ctw.), titled “Aussie Crystal Anenome.”

Carving – Honorable Mention: Larry Woods, Jewels From The Woods – 17.60 ct. black opal carving.


 
Classic Gemstone


Classic Gemstone – 1st Place: David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 15.30 ct. unheated ceylon pink sapphire.

Classic Gemstone – 2nd Place: Allen Kleiman, A. Kleiman & Co. – 38.48 ct. unheated oval Madagascan blue sapphire.

Classic Gemstone – 3rd Place: Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – 5.80 ct. untreated Colombian step-cut emerald.

Classic Gemstone – Honorable Mention: Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – 12.56 ct. unheated ceylon oval padparadscha sapphire.


 
Innovative Faceting


Innovative Faceting – 1st Place: Christopher Wolfsberg, Chris Wolfsberg – 32.75 ct. specialty-cut quartz with chrysoprase and opal.

Innovative Faceting – 2nd Place: John Dyer, John Dyer & Co. – 21.58 ct. red spinel hexagon.

Innovative Faceting – 3rd Place: John Dyer, John Dyer & Co. – 68.86 ct. specialty-cut tourmaline.

Innovative Faceting – Honorable Mention: Dalan Hargrave, Jewels From The Woods – 32.98 ct. specialty-cut kunzite.


 
Objects of Art


Objects of Art – 1st Place: Derek Katzenbach, Katzenbach Designs – “Colors of Maine” kaleidoscope featuring multicolored Maine tourmalines (71.74 ctw.) and Maine quartz lenses (24.92 ctw.) set in 18K yellow and white gold.

Objects of Art – 2nd Place: Susan Helmich, Somewhere in the Rainbow – “Straight on to Neverland” pendulum and brooch featuring a 14.01 ct. rubellite tourmaline, an 8.94 ct. rubellite tourmaline, a 4.08 ct. indicolite tourmaline, a 13.8mm golden cultured pearl and diamonds (5.24 ctw.) on a carved frosted quartz base.

Objects of Art – 3rd Place: Liam Powers, Liam Powers Jewelry, LLC – Sterling silver and multi-karat gold chalice featuring diamonds, alexandrites, sapphires, moldavites and phenakites.


 
Pairs & Suites


Pairs & Suites – 1st Place and Best of Show: Mikola Kukharuk, Nomad’s – Pair of neon blue tourmalines (53.56 ctw.).

Pairs & Suites – 2nd Place: Hemant Phophaliya, A G Color, Inc. – Pair of fancy pear-shaped tanzanites (49.38 ctw.).

Pairs & Suites – 3rd Place: Robyn Dufty, DuftyWeis Opals Inc. – Pair of black opals (17.61 ctw.), titled “Tears of the Gods.”

Pairs & Suites – Honorable Mention: Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – Pair of unheated pigeon blood Burmese oval rubies (4.08 ctw.).

Pairs & Suites – Honorable Mention: Phillip Youngman, Phillip Youngman – Suite of 36 specialty-cut zircons (140.27 ctw.).


 
Phenomenal


Phenomenal – 1st Place: Joel Price, Joel Price – 100.66 ct. harlequin pattern black opal.

Phenomenal – 2nd Place: Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – 7.31 ct. emerald-cut Brazilian alexandrite.

Phenomenal – 3rd Place: Robert Shapiro, Robert Shapiro – 7.60 ct. boulder opal.

Phenomenal – Honorable Mention: Ruben Bindra, B & B Fine Gems – 16.08 ct. round Sri Lankan unheated cat’s eye chrysoberyl.

Phenomenal – Honorable Mention: David Nassi, 100% Natural Ltd. – 21.56 ct. oval opal.

 

 

This year’s AGTA Spectrum Awards will be presented during the 2018 AGTA GemFair Tucson to be held Jan. 30 through Feb. 4 at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, AZ. Winning entries will be displayed during the show and the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards recipients will be recognized during the 2017 AGTA Spectrum AwardsTM Gala, on Saturday, Feb. 3. Tickets for the gala are $100 and cocktail attire is encouraged.

AGTA Spectrum Awards entries were judged on the basis of overall beauty and wearability, innovative design, effective use of materials, quality of gemstones, quality of workmanship, broad-based consumer appeal and potential to generate positive publicity for natural colored gemstones.

AGTA Cutting Edge Awards honor excellence and creativity in lapidary arts, including natural colored gemstones and cultured pearls, carvings and other gem materials.

The Knot sponsored the Bridal Wear division of the AGTA Spectrum Awards for the fifth year. As the #1 wedding network in the U.S., reaching 80% of brides, The Knot represents an opportunity for unprecedented exposure for Spectrum entrants.Whether gracing the bridesmaids or donning the bride herself, this category captures all looks coming down the aisle. Engagement rings, wedding bands, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and tiaras should be considered.

Platinum Honors, sponsored by Platinum Guild International, recognizes outstanding use of platinum in colored gemstone and/or pearl jewelry in the five Spectrum Awards categories and for the Best Use of Color and Platinum. Platinum Honors Entry Platinum Honors – Bridal Wear under $2,500 (semi-mount only), Platinum Honors Innovation – Classical under $3,500 and Platinum Honors Innovation – Day Wear under $2,000.

WJA Gem DIVA Awards celebrated its sixth year of association with the competition. WJA GEM DIVA Awards were presented in the Bridal Wear, Evening Wear, Classical and Business/Day Wear categories. All women who entered the AGTA Spectrum Awards competition were eligible for this category.

Manufacturing Honors recognizes outstanding use of colored gemstones and cultured pearls in jewelry appropriate to be manufactured in production quantities. All designs that qualify for judging in the AGTA Spectrum Awards competition will also automatically be qualified for Manufacturing Honors judging.

Fashion Forward Honors recognizes the outstanding use of colored gemstone and/or cultured pearl in artful, trend-setting jewelry. All necklaces, earrings, bracelets or other jewelry that qualified for judging in the AGTA Spectrum Awards competition automatically qualified for Fashion Forward Honors judging.

For further information regarding the 2017 AGTA GemFair Tucson or the AGTA Spectrum Awards Gala, call (800) 972-1162 or visit www.agta.org. For more information regarding the AGTA Spectrum Awards competition, contact Megan Whitmire at megan@agta.org or (800) 972-1162.

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GJEPC Announces Special Rate Benefits for IIJS Signature 2020 & IIJS Premiere 2020 for Exhibitors

This is to promote exports of diamond jewelry and gold jewelry from India.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MUMBAI — The Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has announced a series of measures to promote exports of diamond jewelry and gold jewelry from India. One of the latest being the special rate benefits for IIJS Signature 2020 & IIJS Premiere 2020 for exhibitors.

IIJS Signature 2020 & IIJS Premiere 2020 – In view of the current precarious state of the gem & jewelry industry, GJEPC has announced Rate Benefit to IIJS Signature and IIJS Premiere Participants as follows: Ordinary & Ordinary+ MSME Members: 15%; MSME Members: 10%; Associate Members: 5%. To avail this exclusive benefit, application with 50% advance for IIJS Signature 2020 and 10% Advance for IIJS Premiere 2020 should be applied by 20th November 2019.

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Mr. Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman, GJEPC, said, “Globally, there’s a low demand for gems and jewelry. There are other factors that have affected the business domestically including the rise in import duty of gold. Our move to give rate benefits to exhibitors of IIJS Signature and IIJS Premiere is with the aim to give relief to our member exporters as this industry has been resilient to such situations in the past. This time at IIJS Signature 2020, we are adding a new Hall for Machinery and 100 New Stalls for Jewelry to accommodate participants in waitlist of last year. Special Buyer Promotion Program will create personalized and better experience to visitors. GJEPC will conduct Roadshows / Door to Door, in 100 plus cities. It will facilitate International connect in important countries to grow exports.”

Mr. Colin Shah, vice chairman, GJEPC Said, “Our vision is to grow India’s gem and jewelry exports to USD 75 billion and create additional 2 million employment in the sector by 2025. Over the last couple of years, the industry has been facing challenges which has resulted in decline in exports. GJEPC has been taking initiatives to address this situation and we have joined hands with Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and contributing rupees 14.2 crores towards DPA-led promotion of diamond jewelry in USA, China and India. We have also allocated rupees 5 crores for the promotion of gold jewelry in the Middle East market. GJEPC has been undertaking a series of initiatives for the sustainable development of the industry. Setting up Common Facility Centers (CFCs), Jewelry Parks, gem & jewelry institutes and promotional activities would help the industry to get back on a growth trajectory. GJEPC has started an employee health insurance scheme called Swasthya Ratna. The total number of lives covered till date are 5,21,659 under Swasthya Ratna. We have also launched Parichay Card for the benefit of the workers and so far we have received requests for 2,60,950 Parichay Cards from craftsmen and workers from the gem & jewelry sector. Parichay card holders would be eligible for various benefits and schemes offered by GJEPC.”

GJEPC has announced the dates for the 13th Edition IIJS Signature 2020. The show will be held in Mumbai’s Bombay Exhibition Centre (Goregaon) from 13th–to-16th February 2020. IIJS Signature, sees participation from over 700+ exhibitors. The focus is on product – jewelry of the highest standards of design, craftsmanship and finish. Just what you need to revitalize your inventory for the coming year. The show is compact enough to fully explore sourcing opportunities and, with a large number of new participants, it is the ideal platform to develop additional contacts.

Mr. Mansukh Kothari, convener-National Exhibitions Sub-Committee, GJEPC Said, “Our aim is to make IIJS amongst the top gem and jewelry shows in the world. Every year, based on the feedback from the buyers and exhibitors, we have been making the show better each year by adding new features and facilities. IIJS Premiere sees participation from over 1,300 exhibitors with 40,000 plus visitors from across cities pan India and 80 countries. IIJS today is reckoned as one of the world’s most preferred Gem and Jewelry Show by the gem and jewelry trade fraternity. Over 8,000 visitors have already pre-registered to participate in this event. The show is also available with navigation on the GJEPC App. I hope the rate benefits would be a relief to our members in this tough time.”

“For ease of retailers – Online visitor registration is open with special rate benefits in early registrations + multi show registration facilities (one show, 2 and 5 shows),” added Mansukh Kothari.

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CPAA Announces U.S. Finalists in 10th Annual IPDC

Winners will be announced on Thursday, Oct. 31.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — The Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA) announces the finalists in the U.S. division of the 10th Annual International Pearl Design Competition (IPDC). Thirty-eight submissions were narrowed down to eighteen finalists after judges viewed images of all entries. The judges are Jean Francois Bibet, workshop and production director at Cartier; Nancy Schuring, owner of Devon Fine Jewelry (whose store will show and offer for sale the winning entries and the finalists of Schuring’s choice); Michelle Graff, editor in chief of NationalJeweler.com; and Hector Hassey, jewelry designer of his own same-name firm.

Finalists in the U.S. division are as follows. Winners will be announced on Thursday, Oct. 31, following a day of judging live pieces.

Chrysanthemum Fold Black Pearl earrings by Karin Jacobson

Pearl Empress earrings by Deborah Meyers of Deborah Meyers Experience

Black Diamond and Pearl earrings by Timo Krapf of TBK Jewelry

Polka Dots cuff by Alishan Halebian of Alishan

Glamorous Keshi Swing earrings by Dilly Kirby of Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls

Mandala ring by Paul Klecka of Paul Klecka Inspired Design

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Esther ring by Polly Baumgartner

Lydia Lighthouse Beacon ring by Lika Behar of Lika Behar Jewelry

Chimera pendant necklace by Brenda Smith of Brenda Smith Jewelry

Golden pearl strand with Wavy O interchangeable clasp by Llyn Strong of Llyn Strong Jewelry

The Kiss of the Spider Woman necklace by Martina Buck of Haute Metal

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Power of Pearl pendant by Kelly Charveaux of Scottsdale Bead Supply and Charveaux

South Sea Pearl Paisley ring by Assael

South Sea Pearl Fan earrings by Assael

Ocean Diva necklace by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Jewelry

Rocking Love ring by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Jewelry

Rocking Dandy lapel pin by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Jewelry

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GIA Commits $1.3M to Artisanal Mining Education Project

It’s a four-year commitment.

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(PRESS RELEASE) CARLSBAD, CA – Building on a successful pilot and feedback from small-scale colored gemstone miners in Tanzania, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) will expand distribution of its innovative gem guide for artisanal miners to other communities and countries in Africa. Speaking at the ICA Congress in Bangkok on Oct. 15, GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques announced a four-year, $1.3 million commitment, funded from the GIA endowment, to expand the program in Tanzania to Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia. Working withPact, a Washington D.C.-based international development nonprofit organization with expertise in the region, GIA plans to reach 10,000 miners with relevant information on how to evaluate the quality of the rough they mine.

“This is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to bring information directly to artisanal miners right at the beginning of the gem and jewelry supply chain,” said Jacques. “We know that this investment will bring an invaluable benefit to miners, their families and the communities in which they live.”

Robert Weldon, GIA director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Library and Information Center, pictured with an artisanal miner from Tunduru, Tanzania.

The gem guide project began shortly after GIA Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. James Shigley saw the difficult working conditions of artisanal miners during a 2008 trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Dr. Shigley and Dona Dirlam, then-director of the GIA library, working with GIA research and library staff, created the booklet, “Selecting Gem Rough: A Guide for Artisanal Miners.” First developed in English and later translated into Swahili, the photo-rich booklet has images of the gemstones found in East Africa and illustrations of how to examine and evaluate rough gems. The booklet is waterproof and comes with a durable plastic tray that can be used to sort gems and do basic gemological evaluations. GIA piloted the program in 2016, working with Pact.

“We found that for every dollar invested, there was a 12-fold social return that will last years into the future,” said Cristina M. Villegas, technical program manager for Pact’s Mines to Markets program. “With their new knowledge, miners improve their income, send their children to school, invest in their mines and their communities.”

GIA staff, including Robert Weldon, current director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center at GIA and a major contributor to the development and content of the guide, trained more than 1,000 artisanal miners on how to use the guide and tray during a two-week period earlier this year in Tanzania. GIA’s initial efforts to provide information to small scale, artisanal miners came full circle when the GIA team visited the Tanzanian Association of Women Miners (TAWOMA), who participated in the very first training session for the guide.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the reaction of the miners as they learn the material – you instantly see that you’ve positively made a change in someone’s life,” said Weldon. “These transcendent moments make us so proud that we can provide artisanal miners with a gem guide that gives them the confidence to know their value in the market.”

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