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MJSA Announces the Winners of the 2018 Vision Awards Design Competition




(PRESS RELEASE) MJSA, the U.S. trade association dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, honored 10 outstanding designs in its 2018 MJSA Vision Awards competition. Celebrating creativity, craftsmanship, and technological prowess, the awards recognized both professional and student achievements in seven categories.

The 2018 winners are:

  • First Place, Professional Excellence, 4+ Years in Business:
    Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry in Laguna Beach, California, for his Ombré Pendant featuring a rare 25.39 carat blue-green tourmaline cut by Stephen Avery. Hand-fabricated in yellow and white color-gradient Spectra Gold, it’s adorned with complementary pavé-set canary diamonds that fade into white diamonds. 
  • Second Place, Professional Excellence, 4+ Years in Business:
    Rachael Mitchell of Stuller Inc. in Lafayette, Louisiana, for her Fire Teardrop Pendant Necklace featuring a 20.77-carat pear-shaped topaz with yellow, burnt-orange, and garnet-red diamonds set in an 18k yellow pendant (with a hybrid semi-bezel/tension setting). The necklace is completed by a 14k yellow chain.
  • First Place, Professional Excellence, 1-3 Years in Business:
    Xuehui Liu of Grace•Hui Jewelry Studios in San Jose, California, for her Eternity of the Plant Kingdom Set that symbolizes “a flower that was never discovered by humans.” The enamel-colored 18k earrings and brooch feature nine Mexican fire opals, two spessartines, 10 cabochon rubies, and 1,020 diamond pieces. 
  • Second Place, Professional Excellence, 1-3 Years in Business:
    Julie Lamb of Julie Lamb New York in Hastings on Hudson, New York, for her statement ring The Entrepreneur, which “encourages you to be balanced.” It features an 18k yellow gold bar of five channel-set baguettes that sit east/west across the top of the ring in a ‘see-saw’ bar that can be raised and tilted. Five diamonds are set in azures along each side of the shank.
  • CAD/CAM Distinction:
    Andrew Bugher of Andrew Bugher Design in St. Paul, Minnesota, for his 14k yellow-and-white-gold Peridot Scroll Ring with diamond accents. It features a 9.53 carat faceted oval peridot sourced from Pakistan, as well as nearly six dozen 1.2 mm round, ideal-cut diamonds.
  • Laser Distinction:
    Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry in Laguna Beach, California, for his Ombré Pendant. The joints of the piece were laser welded with the same color tone of Spectra Gold at each junction, ensuring the perfect color match and preserving the color gradient without any visible seams.
  • Custom Design Distinction:
    Victor Hararuk of V. Hararuk JDS in Kylv, Ukraine, Rico, for his Atmosphere cocktail ring. Designed for a client who wanted to reflect her love of sky, air, and ocean, the ring features a chalcedony center stone that calls to mind all three elements.  It also contains 106 diamonds and 202 blue/green sapphires.
  • Responsible Practices Distinction:
    Wolfgang Vaatz of Earth Terra Erde Inc. in Rio Rico, Arizona, for his hand-fabricated and oxidized At the Creek Pendant featuring placer gold particles and nuggets, as well as Argentium silver. Fused gold and added texture result in the organic, painterly look of a serene creekside scene. The environmental impact of placer gold mining in California is so minimal that when mining season is over, there is very little trace that mining has happened, and any traces are mostly gone with the next spring flood. 
  • First Place, Future of the Industry Award (for students):
    Angely Martinez of Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, for her La Inspiración de una Mariposa Necklace in sterling silver, featuring synthetic rubies. This modular necklace is based on the glass-wing butterfly.
  • Second Place, Future of the Industry Award:
    Hsinyu Chu of Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad, California, for her CAD-rendered Interlock Ring, made from 14k and featuring a yellow sapphire center stone. The piece was inspired by the designer’s favorite childhood toy—the intricate spirograph.

In addition to cash awards, gift certificates for tools and supplies, and (for the students) scholarship funds, the winners will be profiled in the August issue of MJSA Journal and promoted through ads in both Instore, Metalsmith, and The Retail Jeweler (the competition’s media sponsors). All of the winning entries will be on display at the 2019 MJSA Expo at the Javits Center in New York City.

This year’s Vision Awards judges were Alan Revere; Klaus Kutter, A Jour Jewelry; Michelle Graff, National Jeweler; Jim Grahl, J. Grahl Design; and Michael Coan, Fashion Institute of Technology.

The 2018 Vision Awards sponsors were Century Casting (Custom Design Distinction), EnvisionTec(CAD/CAM Distinction), LaserStar Technologies (Laser Distinction), Rio Grande (General Sponsor), Richline Group (Responsible Practices Distinction), the MJSA Education Foundation (Future of the Industry Award), and Instore, The Retail Jeweler, and Metalsmith magazines (Media Sponsors).

For more information and to view the winning pieces, as well as the six honorable mentions, go here




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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