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Rio Grande Announces Winners of 2018 Saul Bell Design Award Competition (PHOTOS)




(press release) At a celebration dinner held on May 20, during the Santa Fe Symposium in Albuquerque, NM, Rio Grande announced the winners of the 18th annual Saul Bell Design Award competition. In this international competition, finalists were selected from hundreds of entries, submitted by designers from countries around the world. The work in these pieces epitomizes the best of the jewelry industry in creativity, design and fabrication. From this work, through two rounds of rigorous judging, experts drawn from across the jewelry industry chose a best-of-show and first- and second-place winners from designs submitted in nine competitive categories. Prizes, awards and congratulations were presented to each winning designer at a gala dinner and celebration event.

The winning designs, as well as all finalist pieces, are featured online at

“In the 17 years I’ve been with Rio Grande, it’s been an honor to see so many talented designers rise to the challenge of creating awe-inspiring pieces and to hear their stories of creation,” said Rio Grande Creative Director Jamie Gros.

Since launching in 2001, the Saul Bell Design Award has become one of the most sought-after prizes for jewelers and metalsmiths worldwide. For information about the 2018 Saul Bell Design Award competition, designers are invited to visit, email or call 800-952-6222.

Rio Grande thanks the dedicated judges — and all the jewelry makers who put their designs in front of these industry experts to be seen, evaluated and recognized — and congratulates each of the winners and finalists.

The 2018 Saul Bell Design Award Competition Winners:

Best of Show:


Sophia Hu
“Origami – Window with a View Collection”
Las Vegas, NV, USA

Gold/Platinum Category:

First Place 
Garen Garibian
“Mata Hari”
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Second Place 

Rosario Garcia
Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

Silver/Argentium Silver Category: 


First Place 
Matthieu Cheminée
Montreal, QC, Canada

Second Place 
Caroline Rivière
Longueuil, QC, Canada 

Enamel Category:

First Place 
Carina Wong
“Leaping Tree Frog”
Hong Kong

Second Place 
Sinork Agdere
“The Dragonfly”
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Hollowware/Art Objects Category:


First Place 
Jason Baide
“Cheap Thrills”
Bozeman, MT, USA

Second Place 
Leonardo Maldonado
“Fantasy Coach”
Delray Beach, FL, USA

Alternative Metals/Materials Category:

First Place
Gabri Schumacher
“Head in the Clouds”
Schoonhoven, The Netherlands

Second Place 
E. Douglas Wunder
“Orchid Neckpiece”
Kutztown, PA, USA

Jewelry Collection – Couture/Fine Category:

First Place
Wolfgang Vaatz
“Rocky Mountains Memories”
Rio Rico, AZ, USA

Second Place 
Zoltan David
Bee Cave, TX, USA

Jewelry Collection – Fashion/Bridge Category:

First Place
Kwabena Abeney
“The Wave Collection”
Burnaby, BC, Canada 

Second Place 
Liz Sabol
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Emerging Jewelry Artist – 22 Years of Age and Younger Category:

First Place
Hoi Yi Lai
Toronto, ON, Canada 

Second Place 
Taron Rueger
Lake George, CO, USA

Emerging Jewelry Artist – 18 Years of Age and Younger Category:

First Place
Peyton Rogers
Fort Worth, TX, USA

Second Place 
Caroline Senyszyn
“Fairy Necklace”
Fort Worth, TX, USA

2018 Finalists


  • “Lotus in the Pond (Renaissance)” by Kajal Naina SherchanRai (Hong Kong)
  • “Meteor Engagement Ring Set” by Greg Neeley (Georgetown, TX, USA)
  • “Irony” by Ruben Zhitnik (Mayfield Heights, OH, USA)

Silver/Argentium Silver

  • “Venus of Willendorf” by Paul Bundarin (Jackson Heights, NY, USA)
  • “Khephir” by Travis Martin (Milwaukie, OR, USA)
  • “Worldview” by Allison Ice (Chesterfield, MO, USA)


  • “North American Owls” by Jill Tower (Irvine, CA, USA)
  • “The Wisteria Bower” by Kelly Morgen (San Rafael, CA, USA)
  • “Testa” by Gill Cordiner (Perth, Western Australia, Australia)

Hollowware/Art Objects 

  • “A Little Nonsense” by Janet Huddie (Crownsville, MD, USA)
  • “Fan Club” by Susan Coddon (Atlanta, GA, USA)
  • “Soumbedioune” by Matthieu Cheminée (Montreal, QC, Canada)
  • Alternative Metals/Materials 
  • “Ipomoea” by Elysha Roberts (Vineyard Haven, MA, USA)
  • “Green Dragon” by Ricardo Basta (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
  • “Art D’Eco—Motif Pendant” by David Alvarado (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
  • Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine
  • “Art D’Eco (Decoratif d’ Ecologie)–Decorative Ecological Art” by David Alvarado (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
  • “Precious Time” by Kate Hubley (Montreal, QC, Canada)
  • “The White Daisy Set” by Pavit Gujral (Chandigarh, India)

Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge

  • “Vortex” by Leonid Krykhtin & Meng Zhang (London, UK)
  • “Lava Pearl Series” by Dawn Teasdale (Winnipeg, MB, Canada)
  • Emerging Jewelry Artist – 22 Years of Age or Younger
  • “The Unseen Seen” by Cecilia Zhu (Providence, RI, USA)
  • “We Must Carry the Weight” by Tyler Kane (Brooklyn, NY, USA)
  • “Balance” by Cassidy Terry (New York, NY, USA) 

Emerging Jewelry Artist – 18 Years of Age or Younger 

  • “Discrete Extravagance” by Gregory Augustin (Beau Bassin, Plaine Wilhems, Mauritius)
  • “Think About It” by Rowan Zinn (Fort Worth, TX, USA)
  • “Tangential Rings” by Emma Petrovich (Wellesley, MA, USA)

The 2018 Saul Bell Design Award Competition Judges:

(Judge bios and photos are available at

About the Saul Bell Award judges, Rio Grande could not have said it better than Sophia Hu, 2018 Best of Show winner: “I really appreciated the two rounds of judges in the competition, since they have the eyes and taste to see deeper, to identify and appreciate all the design efforts I put into each design in this collection.”

Final Round

  • Jeanette Caines—goldsmith, educator and owner of Jewelry Arts Inc.
  • Paula Crevoshay— Saul Bell Design Award-winning designer and owner of Crevoshay
  • Jose Hess—master goldsmith, gemologist, designer and educator
  • Lee Krombholz—third-generation designer and owner of Krombholz Jewelers
  • Alan Revere—goldsmith and founder of Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts

First Round

  • Mark Guerin—jeweler and co-owner of Harris Jewelers & Gemologists
  • Elizabeth M. Kirk—jeweler and designer
  • Rémy Rotenier—designer and renowned jewelry illustrator
  • John Sartin—jeweler, designer and Rio Grande Jewelry Tech Team member
  • Robin Waynee—Saul Bell Design Award-winning jeweler and designer


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