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

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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)

WENDY BRANDES

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.

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“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!”

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

“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

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“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

 
 
 

2ND PLACE
(Colored Gemstone Jewelry Category)

Margery Hirschey

22K gold earrings with emerald (14.75 TCW)

$15,400

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

“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

 
 
 

3RD PLACE
(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

$8,385

WHAT THE JUDGES SAY

“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

 

RETAILER’S CHOICE
(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)

$85,750

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

 

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Big Survey

Jewelers Studied These Topics In-Depth … And Decided They Weren’t Worth It

They’d rather spend their time pursuing other things.

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ONE QUESTION WE asked in Big Survey 2019 was this: “In recent years, is there anything that you studied deeply and decided wasn’t worth pursuing?”

In-house CAD/CAM capabilities were the overwhelming winner here, as many jewelers studied it but decided that outsourcing was a better option for them.

Interestingly, e-commerce was next-most mentioned (tied with “new lines of product”). Most experts and top jewelry stores have concluded that e-commerce is a must-have for selling to today’s consumer, who likes to shop via mobile device.

  • CAD/CAM (19)
  • E-commerce (12)
  • New lines of product (12)
  • Laser welder/engraver (9)
  • Lab-grown diamonds (7)
  • Pandora (7)

Some other interesting answers included buying rough diamonds, joint ventures, hiring an IT person, cloud-based appraisals, and “cutting debt.”

Many of our readers have researched, and then decided against, doing things that may seem valuable to other jewelry stores. Here were some of the things that just didn’t work for them.

  • We have tried a few “new and exciting” lines over the past few years, only to find that they were overhyped and complete duds!
  • CAD design … too long to get proficient.
  • Researched Pandora and charm jewelry and decided against it.
  • Buying a 3D printer. Just pay for the file instead.
  • Laser welder. I have wanted one for years, but have realized that at 60-plus, I simply do not have the TIME during the day, week or year to learn this new skill to the level that I would require of myself.
  • Brand name lies and fads. Our market is just too small.
  • Several online review subscription services, those that would help to build reviews. Most are overpriced and inefficient.
  • Photography of jewelry … I have had to delegate it.
  • Manmade diamonds; I learned a lot, but my clients want “real” ones.
  • CAD/CAM in-house. I spent time and money into something that I can now outsource much more cost effectively. The more CAD/CAM business that comes online, the less expensive the services become. My time is better spent designing than going through the mechanics of computer operation.
  • Online marketing: You buy these expensive websites with the hopes of boosting your bottom line as a mom-and-pop shop. Customers may look online before they buy, but still do the touchy-feely in the store.
  • Constantly looking at new small US designer lines and knowing with our weak dollar, it won’t sell at a profit.
  • Geo-fencing … actually pursued it and found it to be a total waste of money and time.
  • But our favorite answer was this one:
  • I don’t believe anything you study isn’t worth a try.
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Big Survey

The Big Survey 2019: Big Data

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THE BIG SURVEY 2019

Big Data

Gabriel & Co. is king. Earnings for many jewelers have flat-lined. And customers — and almost as often staff — are still confounding. Those are some of the broad takeaways of the 2019 Big Survey. Dig in and enjoy our analysis of data provided by 802 North American jewelers.

Utah’s jewelers were most concerned about the impact of social media on their personal lives: 75% said it had been negative. In a possible related finding, Utah’s jewelers also checked review sites most regularly, doing it daily or every few days. Jewelers in Maine were the least likely to check what people were saying about them online.
California had the highest number of multiple-store owners: 23% had two stores and 3% had three or more.
Arizona led the way in e-ccommerce with 71% saying it contributed a moderate or substantial portion of their sales (meaning more than 10%).
Texas contributed the highest portion of big city stores to our survey (23%) among U.S. stores. (Canada actually had the most in North America at 29%.)
Wisconsin could possibly change its moniker to the Surprise State: Only 15% of its jewelers said their performance this year was in line with expectations. The rest were either doing better or worse than expected.
Jewelers in Iowa were most excited about lab-grown diamonds (63%), while jewelers in New York were most alarmed by their emergence (48%).
Canadian jewelers are most likely to be asked about a diamond’s origins (83% say it happens regularly) while in the U.S. it was California that holds that distinction (70%).
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1. How well is your business performing in 2019 compared to your expectations going into the year?

Far below expectations
2%
Below expectations
23%
In line with expectations
46%
Above expectations
24%
Way above expectations
5%

2. How many stores do you operate?

3. Where is your store located by region?

Northeast
17%
Mid Atlantic

 

5%
Midwest
31%
Southeast
21%
Southwest
9%
Mountain (Rocky Mountains)
4%
Northwest
(including Alaska)
3%
West (including Hawaii)
5%
Canada
5%
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4. Is your (main) store located:

On a downtown street
33%
In its own free-standing building

 

27%
In a strip mall
24%
In a lifestyle center
5%
Office building/Business park
5%
In a mall
3%
Home studio
2%
On the Internet
1%
Other
1%
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Big Survey

These Are the Tech Innovations That Jewelers Find Most Useful

They make a big difference for time-starved business owners.

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ONE QUESTION WE asked in The Big Survey 2019 was this: “What tech innovation or app has had the biggest positive impact on your life as a time-starved business owner?”

Here were the top 10 most valuable tech innovations to jewelers in our survey.

Unsurprisingly, mobile and remote technology captured seven of the 10 spots, as they allow business owners to accomplish tasks from wherever they may be, in speedy fashion.

Here’s what some of our readers had to say about why they chose particular technologies as most valuable.

  • Email on my phone and text messaging. While it can be too much and annoying, I sell more stuff to friends and customers via text than I ever dreamed I would. Guys don’t like to shop, and if you know their significant other, they love it if you can do it for them.
  • The smartphone. We put it off for years before we got one; now I don’t know how we can do business without it.
  • The innovations of The Edge software system in letting you know “where you are” with your business very quickly.
  • Texting and emailing customers estimates and information instead of phone calls. I can do these in the evening and not during those precious working hours.
  • Wax printing. Even though I am a very competent sculptor, there is much to be said for getting the wax printer to make things while you barbeque some dinner.
  • The ability to order/reorder from vendors online to keep best sellers in inventory.
  • Alexa. I love that I can tell her what song I am feeling like and it plays right then.
  • Bank innovations that allow me to pay online, transfer money, set up auto-pay. I used to write a lot of checks!
  • Podium. The ability to directly communicate with our customers in a non-spam way has changed a lot of the way we do business, especially custom and repairs. It is expensive, but in our minds, it has been worth it.
  • Online grocery ordering apps that let you place the order for a particular time, drive in, and have it delivered to your car. No more walking through the grocery store with a list. love it.
  • My iPhone. Everything is at my fingertips. This is especially important now that I find that as I get older, I can’t spell anymore.
  • Ipevo camera at each employee’s desk, so every inventory item has a photo. Inexpensive and high quality.
  • GoToMyPC to access my computer and server from anywhere in the world.
  • iPad Pro! It has revolutionized our custom process. I can either draw up a design from scratch, or for custom shadow bands, I take a photo of their existing piece and then draw right on the photo digitally for a great visual. I do it right in front of the clients and they are always wowed by the technology.
  • Grubhub for sure. I love getting home and having a hot meal made by someone else ready to eat.
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