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Here Are the Winners of the INDESIGN Awards (Colored Gemstone Jewelry Category)




The INDESIGN Awards competition recognizes the most creative jewelry of the year — and now, it’s time to reveal the winners!

More than 150 entries were received in eight categories, each piece more stunning than the last. In order to determine the very best of the best, we recruited seven judges – four top retailers and three important industry influencers – to vote on their favorites in a “blind voting” process. We also opened voting to retailers, and nearly 3,000 votes were cast to decide the “Retailer’s Choice” winner in each category.

And like last year, we wanted to recognize an up-and-coming designer who most embodied the inventive spirit so long encouraged by our colleague Cindy Edelstein, who passed away in January 2016 but not before helping us build this design competition.

Each weekday through June 1 we’ll bring you the winners from a different category, along with judges’ comments. Today’s category: Colored Gemstone Jewelry.

Also be sure to check out our photo gallery showing all of the entries from each category. From never-before-seen material combinations to unusual shapes and arrangements to “just right” color mixes, you’ll see where design is headed and, ultimately, where your clients are headed as well.




1ST PLACE (Colored Gemstone Jewelry Category)


One-of-a-kind, two-finger ring in 18K yellow gold with 1.55-carat mint-green grossular garnet from Tanzania, 5.50-carat spessartite garnet from Tanzania, 1.27-carat Mahenge spinel from Tanzania and eight diamond baguettes (0.47 TCW)

Price on request

The simple, stunning beauty of this ring by Wendy Brandes may not immediately conjure visions of hardscrabble African mines, but that’s precisely the inspiration behind it. The ring was produced in collaboration with ANZA Gems, founded by jewelry blogger Monica Stephenson of iDazzle, who personally sources rough in Tanzania and Kenya then brings it back to the U.S. to be cut and integrated into designs. 10 percent of the profits from sales of the finished pieces go back to schools in Africa.


“It’s a story about the ethical use of colored gems, and, to honor that, I wanted all the focus to be on the gems,” says Brandes. “The color of each individual gem in the ring is stunning, but when you put them together, the effect is electric.”

Brandes’ own line of jewelry is incredibly intricate, but for her ANZA collaborations, she chose to streamline her designs to allow the large gemstones to stand out. It’s an approach that’s paid off. Says Brandes: “Customers’ jaws literally drop when they see this ring in person. I’m not kidding!”


“The unusual color combination, specialty cut stones and sculptural design knock this ring out of the park. Would love to see how it looks on!” – Tara Silberberg

“The design is modern and fashion-forward, allowing the gemstones to be the focus.” – Jenny Luker

“Nice combination of colors and shapes. The baguettes add a dressy note.” – Paul Schneider


“Such unique stones in creative positions. This ring is extremely special.” – Nadine McCarthy Kahane

“The color combination of these ANZA gems is simply striking.  The design lets the gemstones shine and be the center of attention, and in this case, it’s a good thing!” – Danielle Miele

“I love how these stones appear to float between the wearer’s fingers. The bright and colorful stones are paired together in an almost unexpected way. The baguette diamonds are the perfect finishing touch.” – Amanda Gizzi


(Colored Gemstone Jewelry Category)

Margery Hirschey

22K gold earrings with emerald (14.75 TCW)



“I love everything about these earrings. I love the variation of stone shape, the asymmetrical design, the beauty of the emeralds and the movement the settings create.” – Amanda Gizzi

“Thoughtfully and beautifully constructed. These earrings are absolutely gorgeous!” – Tara Silberberg

“My kind of jewelry. Organic form with imperfect stones that move naturally.” – Paul Schneider

“These are amazing! I love the asymmetry and the overall lightness to the piece.” – Nadine McCarthy Kahane

“I’ve seen these in person and they’re pretty incredible!  I also like the fact that the gemstones are oriented differently.” – Danielle Miele


(Colored Gemstone Jewelry Category)

Martha Seely Design

Ceres Spiral earrings from the Inspiro collection featuring aquamarine “planets” surrounded with double rings of 14K yellow gold, each pavé set with 70 diamonds



“The rough appearance of the aquamarines are beautifully balanced by the fluidity of the yellow gold and diamond earrings.” – Amanda Gizzi

“Very cool, love detail of the organic pavé. Great combination of organic and stylized elements.” – Tara Silberberg

“They look like mobiles that sparkle. The uncut stones are a great juxtaposition.” – Paul Schneider

“Extremely graceful earrings. These would move beautifully as you walk!” – Nadine McCarthy Kahane

“Cool from every angle — love the length on these and the rough gem in the center. If it were faceted, it would totally have a different feel.” – Danielle Miele


(Colored Gemstone Jewelry Category)

Uneek Jewelry

From the Royal Blue Collection featuring 6.12-carat emerald-cut natural sapphire center with trapezoid-cut diamond side stones (0.94 TCW) and pavé double shank (approx. 0.27 TCW)


“This is what a jeweler dreams about! OMG, this is exquisite.” – Sheila Tompkins, Tompkins Jeweler, Ashland, VA




Gene the Jeweler

It Was Hawaii Day at Gene the Jeweler’s Store … Or Was It?

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene learns that it was Hawaii Day at his store. At least that’s what his employee, Jeremy, says. But Jeremy’s answers aren’t quite adding up. It’s hard to say what this “Hawaii Day” was really all about.

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Renowned Retailers to Judge INSTORE Design Awards

Nine distinguished retailers form the panel.



INSTORE ANNOUNCES THE JUDGES for its fourth annual design competition, the INSTORE Design Awards, which is accepting entries through February 22. Nine top retailers comprise the panel, which will determine 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each contest category (the contest will also have an online voting component wherein all retailers will be invited to cast their votes for Retailer’s Choice in each category).

The judges are:

Patricia Faber
Co-owner, Aaron Faber, New York

Patricia and her husband, Edward, co-own Aaron Faber, which was founded in 1974 and resides on Fifth Avenue in New York. The store is dedicated to the presentation of contemporary studio jewelry, boasting nearly 50 designer collections. Patricia is a graduate gemologist and a frequent lecturer in the field of studio jewelry.

Elizabeth Gibson
Owner, Eliza Page, Austin, TX

Elizabeth founded Eliza Page in 2004 to showcase select independent jewelry artists based in Austin and around the world. Now with two locations, Eliza Page has been featured in various industry publications including INSTORE. Elizabeth is also the president of the Austin chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association.

Lindy Kavanaugh
Owner, Lindy’s Jewelry, Fernandina Beach, FL

Lindy, a graduate gemologist, opened Lindy’s Jewelry in 2001 in her hometown: Fernandina Beach in the greater Jacksonville area. The store moved into a new downtown building in 2016, adding about a dozen designer lines.

Lauren Kulchinsky Levison
Chief Style Officer, Mayfair Rocks, East Hampton, NY

Lauren represents the fourth generation at Mayfair Rocks alongside her brother Justin Kulchinsky. The store delivers a high-end client experience while representing nearly 40 jewelry designer collections. Lauren was inducted into the NATIONAL JEWELER Hall of Fame in 2002.

Marcus Majors
Owner, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX

Marcus represents the fifth generation of Majors at Sam L. Majors and is a certified gemologist through AGS. Founded in 1898 by J.P. Majors, Sam L. Majors has been an authorized dealer for many high-end luxury jewelry and watch lines for over 40 years.

Sia Maravelias
Director, Quadrum Gallery, Chestnut Hill, MA

Sia considers her life “one big treasure hunt” as she is constantly seeking new jewelry artists to present to her clients at Quadrum, which is celebrating 40 years in business in the greater Boston area under owner Cynthia Kagan. Nearly 40 designer collections are currently on display in the gallery.

Orin and Tina Mazzoni
Owners, Orin Jewelers, Detroit

Orin and Tina represent the second generation of Orin Jewelers, which celebrates its 86th year in business this year. Orin is a graduate gemologist and a certified gemologist appraiser; he took over from his father as president and CEO in 1969. The store numbers nearly two dozen designer lines in its showcases.

Matthew Rosenheim
President, Tiny Jewel Box, Washington, DC

Matthew oversees the day-to-day operations of Tiny Jewel Box, named America’s Coolest Store in the Big Cool category in 2011. Matthew is the third generation of the Rosenheim family at Tiny Jewel Box, having joined the company in 1993. A graduate gemologist, Matthew is a founding member and serves on the Executive Board for Gen-Next Jewelers, serves on the Advisory Board of the Jewelry Information Center and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization.

Laurie Watt
Co-owner, EAT Gallery, Maysville, KY

Located in historic downtown Maysville, KY, EAT Gallery offers one-of-a-kind local art and breathtaking natural treasures from around the world, including many independent jewelry designer collections. The gallery launched in 2006.

These judges will choose winners in each of the following categories of jewelry: gold, platinum, silver, colored gemstones, diamonds, colored diamonds, alternative materials, pearls, men’s jewelry and engagement/wedding rings, as well as best bracelet, best earring, best necklace, best ring and best statement piece.

Additionally, all entries will be included in a Voting Guide shipped with the April issue of INSTORE, as well as displayed online at where jewelry retailers will be invited to vote and choose a “Retailer’s Choice” award in each category.

Winners will be featured in the June issue of INSTORE, which is distributed at JCK and Couture in Las Vegas, as well as online at Each winner will also receive a trophy commemorating their achievement. The grand prize winner will be featured on the front cover of the June issue.

Designers may enter at

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Big Survey

Big Survey: How Many Women Make More Than $150,000 in Retail Jewelry?

For the most part, men are the higher earners.




FOUR IN 10 independent jewelry stores in America are now run by women according to the 2018 Big Survey. However, for the most part, it is the men who continue to be the highest earners, with 80 percent of the jewelers making $150,000 or more a year being male.

A part of this discrepancy can be explained by the fact that many of the women owners and managers are relatively new to the industry and their stores have yet to reach the scale that rewards their owners so handsomely. In 2009, the first time we specifically asked about gender, the split between male and female owners was 65/35.

It’s also undeniable that women face bigger hurdles in business, whether it’s accessing credit, being accepted in business networks or just operating in a still male-dominated field.

Having said that, the women jewelers in our survey are doing well. Forty-three percent of the jewelers who said they’d had their best year ever since 2016 were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts.

As the Store Owner, What Did You Earn (Salary + Share of Profit) Last Year?

What Is It Your Gender?

COMMENT: The number of women owners or managers has been steadily rising since we started doing these surveys more than a decade ago. The first time we specifically asked about gender, in 2009, the split was 65/35. For the record, 43% of the thriving jewelers were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts. That said, it should be noted that male-owned stores overall tend to be older and thus the owners are often comparing those last two years against a historical record that goes back decades.

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Big Survey

Manmade Diamond Legal Quiz: Can You Do Better Than the Jewelers in the 2018 Big Survey?

Test your knowledge.



ON JULY 24, the Federal Trade Commission’s jewelry guidelines were revised to include laboratory-grown diamonds in the commission’s definition of diamonds.

The FTC’s previous definition of a diamond was: “A natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.”

The new listing does not include the word “natural.” “When the commission first used this definition in 1956, there was only one type of diamond product on the market — natural stones mined from the earth,” the FTC said. “Since then, technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.”

Which of the following terms are you allowed to use to describe laboratory-grown diamonds, according to the FTC. (The figures in parentheses reflect the answers of your fellow jewelers who took the Big Survey)



The descriptions in orange are fine, based on the FTC guidelines, while those in red are not. How did you do?

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