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Rio Grande Announces Winners of 2019 Saul Bell Design Award Competition

Finalists were selected from hundreds of entries submitted by designers from around the world.

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(PRESS RELEASE) At a celebration dinner held on May 19 in Albuquerque, NM, Rio Grande announced the winners of the 19th annual Saul Bell Design Award competition. In this international competition, finalists were selected from hundreds of entries submitted by designers from around the world. The pieces epitomize the very best of the jewelry industry in creativity, design and fabrication. Through two rounds of rigorous judging, experts drawn from across the jewelry industry chose first- and second-place winners, as well as a single best-of-show recipient, from designs submitted in nine competitive categories. Prizes, awards and congratulations were presented to each winning designer at the gala dinner and celebration event, which coincided with the Santa Fe Symposium jewelry technology conference.

The winning designs, as well as all finalist pieces, are featured online at saulbellaward.com with high-resolution photos of each entry.

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 2020 Saul Bell Design Award competition, designers are invited to visit saulbellaward.com, email events@riogrande.com or call 800.952.6222.

Rio Grande thanks all of the artists who submitted their work, as well as the judges who carefully evaluated their submissions. And we congratulate each of the winners and finalists, whose work rose to a level of craftsmanship and creativity that, as always, is breathtaking.

2019 Saul Bell Design Award Competition Winners

Best of Show
“Lineal Alchemy” by Debbie Sheezel (Melbourne, Australia)

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Enamel
First Place: “Spirit & Flame” by Sandra McEwen (Raleigh, NC)
Second Place: “The Endless Love” by Garen Garibian (Los Angeles, CA)

Gold/Platinum
First Place: “Moebius No.1” by Pierre-Yves Paquette (Saint-Jerome, QC, Canada)
Second Place: “Star Hen Galaxy Pendant” by Adam Neeley (Laguna Beach, CA)

Silver/Argentium Silver
First Place: “Prospect Palace” by Mehrnoosh Ganji (Melbourne, Australia)
Second Place: “Suftal Fidda” by Maja Houtman (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Alternative Metals/Materials
First Place: “Eclipsim” by Kirk Lang (Seattle, WA)
Second Place: “Torus Bracelet for an Astronaut” by Ezra Satok-Wolman (Caledon, ON, Canada)

Hollowware/Art Objects
First Place: “Luminous Relic #1628” by David Huang (Sand Lake, MI)
Second Place: “The Echinacea Teapot” by Valerie Jo Coulson (Pequea, PA)

Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge
First Place: “Kirigami Pearl Collection” by Karin Jacobson (Minneapolis, MN)
Second Place: “Jupiter” by Liz Sabol (Pittsburgh, PA)

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Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine
First Place: “HELICES” by Sophia Hu (Las Vegas, NV)
Second Place: “Sunshine and Shadow” by Valerie Jo Coulson (Pequea, PA)

Emerging Jewelry Artist 18 Years of Age and Younger
First Place: “Midnight” by Christopher Liu (Allen, TX)
Second Place: “Mokume Chainmail Choker” by Ethan Hansen (Salida, CO)

Emerging Jewelry Artist 22 Years of Age and Younger
First Place: “Open Spiculum Cuff with Black Diamond” by Timo Krapf (Pittsford, NY)
Second Place: “Flower of Life Amulet” by Tristan Dunn (Asheville, NC)

2019 Finalists

Enamel
“Collection of Thirteen Eyes” by Lillian Jones (Raleigh, NC)
“Releasing Butterflies” by Sydney Scherr (Santa Fe, NM)

Gold/Platinum
“The Mystic Fountain” by Garen Garibian (Los Angeles, CA)
“Jellyfish Earrings” by Pavit Gujral (Chandigarh, India)
“Queen Bee” by Llyn Strong (Greenville, SC)

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Silver/Argentium Silver
“Flowering” by Christine De Vogel (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
“Counterpoint” by Han-Yin Hsu (Tacoma, WA)
“An Elegant Disintegration” by Andi Terry (Liberty Hill, TX)
Alternative Metals/Materials
“Bear Bones” by Heidi Kummli (Nederland, CO)
“The Dweller of Unal” by Judicael Vales (Nevada City, CA)
“Light Two” by Ashley Warsaw-Fiorvanti (Hilton Head Island, SC)

Hollowware/Art Objects
“Cherry Blossom in Winter Snow” by Marilyn Bailey (Hendersonville, NC)
“Well of Life” by Janet Huddie (Crownsville, MD)
“Agave Pitcher” by Preston Jones (New York, NY)

Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge
“Migration of Butterflies” by Wiwat Kamolpornwijit (Alexandria, VA)
“A Thousand Masks” by Zejia Lin; Dongguan GAFA Culture & Creativity Institute (Guangdong, China)
“Fusing and Freezing” by Mingshuai Sun; Dongguan GAFA Culture & Creativity Institute (Guangdong, China)

Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine
“Christmas Tree Worm Collection” by Pavit Gujral (Chandigarh, India)
“Pablo Neruda Collection” by Eva Martin (Queensland, Australia)
“Illusion Collection” by Farzaneh Nozari (Savannah, GA)

Emerging Jewelry Artist 18 Years of Age or Younger
“Heirloom” by Jade Adelman (Haverford, PA)
“Howling Wolf” by Alexandra Ortiz (Fort Worth, TX)
“Seraphina” by Abby Schwab (Fort Atkinson, WI)

Emerging Jewelry Artist 22 Years of Age or Younger
“That Which Could Not Be Done” by James Betts (Christiana, PA)
“Dinner Ring” by Nicholas Hesson (Holland, PA)
“Splash” by Dillon McNamara (Longmont, CO)

2019 Saul Bell Design Award Competition Judges

Describing the Saul Bell Award judges, jeweler Sophia Hu (2017 Finalist, 2018 Best of Show, 2019 First Place in Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine) says, “I really appreciated the two rounds of judges in the competition. 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.” Judge bios and photos are available at saulbellaward.com.

Final Round
Victoria Adams—award-winning jeweler and designer
Jason Marchiafava—master jeweler, engraver, educator/mentor at New Approach School for Jewelers
Claudio Pino—lapidary artist, jeweler, designer and Metal Arts Guild of Canada Master of all Metal
Emily Benoist Ruffin—2002 Saul Bell Design Award-winning jeweler and designer
Marc Williams—goldsmith, production and custom jeweler and designer

First Round
Munya Avigail-Upin—jeweler, educator and co-owner of ALCHEMY 9.2.5. fine jewelry gallery
Ann Cahoon—jeweler, educator, writer and 2010 Saul Bell Design Award finalist
Jim Dailing—educator, metalsmith and custom bridal jeweler
Shane Hendren—award-winning jeweler, designer and Rio Grande Jewelry Tech Team member
Gloria Stewart—custom jeweler and designer

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Bharat Diamond Bourse Welcomes Joint Diamond Trading Events

Each company that wins the right to display at the Bharat Diamond Week is entitled to one booth only.

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President of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE) Lin Qiang will be the guest of honor at the 2019 Bharat Diamond Week.

(PRESS RELEASE) MUMBAI, INDIA – The Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) in Mumbai has welcomed the announcement from the Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) that it will be holding a specially organized buyer-seller meeting at around the same time as the third edition of the Bharat Diamond Week (BDW) which takes place at the bourse from 14 to16 October.

The GJEPC will be holding its 3rd India Diamond Week Buyer-Seller Meet in Mumbai from October 15-17.

“I am delighted that the GJEPC event will be taking during the time of the Bharat Diamond Week,” said Bharat Diamond Bourse Vice-President Mehul Shah, who heads the BDW. “It is critical for the Indian diamond industry that we have these two special events taking place. The fact that they are taking place at more or less the same time creates a great deal of excitement and many business opportunities. We are delighted to welcome all visitors to the GJEPC event to take part in the Bharat Diamond Week where their entry will be smoothly organized.”

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BDB President Anoop Mehta is also upbeat about the two large events taking place in Mumbai. “The Bharat Diamond Bourse and the Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council are the two largest and most important organizations representing our trade in India and promoting it abroad. I am very happy that these two events will be taking place during the same week as it helps us create a critical mass of attendees. We welcome all visitors and buyers to the Bharat Diamond Bourse.”

Registration for the BDW opened at the end of last month, with scores of companies from India and across the world already registered. The 2019 BDW follows the first two such diamond fairs held last year, and will host delegations of buyers from China, Australia, and various Asian countries, which will greatly increase the number of visitors and buyers taking part, the organizers said.

The second edition of the Bharat Diamond Week last October hosted more than 1,000 visitors from India and across the world who did business with 150 Indian exhibitors of polished goods.

Mr Shah said: “We will be hosting delegations of foreign buyers as well as buyers from Israel, Dubai, some European countries and India. Our guest of honor will be the president of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE) Lin Qiang who is also the vice president of WFDB. He will be leading a delegation of members from the SDE, and he will open the fair. I believe this is another step in broadening our links with the Shanghai Diamond Exchange which is an important part of the global diamond family.”

He added that, as with the two previous shows, the Bharat Diamond Bourse will provide selected buyers with complimentary hotel accommodation. “The Bharat Diamond Week provides members of the BDB with the opportunity to show the world the very large range of diamonds it can supply. We want to connect buyers and suppliers in a comfortable and relaxed environment in order to save them time and money. We will be allocating around 150 complementary hotel rooms for foreign buyers, so I would suggest that members of the diamond industry in India and worldwide register straight away. Priority will be given to visitors who are members of bourses affiliated to the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), but all members of the diamond trade across the world are welcome to participate.”

Each Indian company that wins the right to display at the Bharat Diamond Week is entitled to one booth only. Trading of synthetic or lab-grown diamonds is banned in the BDB, so there will not be any such diamonds traded at the BDW.

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U.S. Buyers Increasingly Turn to Handcrafted Gem-Set Thai Jewelry, Showcased at JCK Las Vegas 2019

Handcrafted silver and custom cut gem-set jewelry were highlighted in the show.

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(PRESS RELEASE) LAS VEGAS — Thailand’s showcase at JCK Las Vegas highlighted handcrafted silver and custom cut gem-set jewelry that is becoming increasingly sought-after in the U.S. market.

Thailand, with the support of the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), presented a pavilion at JCK Las Vegas, from May 31 to June 3, showing off the best of handcrafted Thai jewelry, notably custom cut gemstones.

Many of Thailand’s leading jewelry suppliers will exhibit at the 64th edition of the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, which will take place from September 10-14, 2019, celebrating the theme “Thailand’s Magic Hands: The Spirit of Jewelry Making”.

Kwanapa Phivnil, executive director of Thai Trade Center, Los Angeles reveals that US market looks for jewelry that is outstanding both in quality and uniqueness and jewelry from Thailand can meet this expectation. “As we can see from the Thailand Pavilion at JCK Las Vegas this year, we have received high attention from the buyers, especially in the part of silver jewelry created by Thai craftsmen as well colored gemstone jewelry.”

“In addition, smart jewelry or jewelry that has technology combined are more interesting in US market. Thai craftsmen are already renowned for their sophistication and outstanding production skills. If they are able to combine beauty design with functionality into unique jewelry, it would make Thai jewelry brands more interesting and they could meet more needs of modern consumers,” she adds.

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Extreme Craftsmanship

The manufacturers exhibiting in the Thailand showcase at JCK Las Vegas all had their own handcrafted specialities.

“We cut mother-of-pearl piece by piece and we do intricate mosaic and inlay work,” said Katapon Lervisit, a director of Nida Factory, a Bangkok-based manufacturer of silver and pearl jewelry at JCK Las Vegas.

“For us craftsmanship is the most important thing: we do everything by hand. Our U.S. buyers look for great value and exceptional quality. Many types of buyers come to us, from department stores, shops and TV shopping channels.”

Silver jewelry from Thailand is a major U.S. import, accounting for $553 million by value in 2018, up 9.3 percent from the previous year.

Another Thai exhibitor at JCK Las Vegas was Formica (Th) Co, which supplies silver jewelry and a wide variety of synthetic stones.

“Because of Thailand’s reputation for craftsmanship, a lot of stones come to Thailand,” said Alexander Lee, Formica sales executive. We get a lot of interest from buyers who are jewelry manufacturers located across the Americas wishing to produce color variety.”

Bangkok-based Bella Jewelry Factory produces custom cut gemstones, crafted by around 15 artisans, set in gold and silver jewelry that is greatly in demand by U.S. jewelry designers.

“We work closely and very well with designers. We adapt to their requirements. Some 60 percent of Bella’s production is sold to the United States,” said Director Chaiyanan Suwanamas.

Key Gems, another JCK exhibitor, which prides itself on cutting gemstones by hand, is seeing buoyant U.S. demand for its 18-carat gold jewelry set with rubies and sapphires, said sales executive Sally Choksoontornlert.

Thailand is the number 1 source of polished rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other gemstones to the U.S. market, accounting for $303 million by value in 2018, up 24.57 percent from the previous year.

Vatana has consistently sold its contemporary fine custom cut gem-set jewelry to the U.S. market, having exhibited at JCK every year for the past two decades, said company owner Theeravat Kanokkul.

He said he can supply gold jewelry, depending on a customer’s requirements, in 18-, 14-, or 10-carat.

Plan your business and leisure time when you visit Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair during September 10-14, 2019 at bkkgems.com.

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Edge Retail Academy Announces First Winner of William (Wag) Wagner Award

Roman jewelers are honored for business excellence.

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(PRESS RELEASE) The Edge Retail Academy (ERA), the leading retail jewelry business advising company, announced that Sophie Shor and Lucy Zimmerman of Roman Jewelers have been awarded the first annual William (Wag) Wagner Business Excellence Award.

Roman Jewelers of Bridgewater Township, New Jersey is a family-owned retailer of more than 30 years with a passion for designing custom jewelry across 4 generations.

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Sherry Smith, ERA director of business development and business advisor, has worked with Roman Jewelers for 2 years. Sherry commented “Sophie and Lucy were very open-minded to implement industry best practices. They focused extensively on improving the margins of their sales team through a new compensation plan.”

Roman Jewelers found gross profit increased 16% in one year with the new plan.

Sophie Shor was excited to learn about winning the award. “My daughter Lucy and I never would have believed we were capable of accomplishing our margin goals without the guidance of Sherry and the Edge Retail Academy. They have made a measurable impact to our business.”

This is the first year that Edge Retail Academy has presented the William (Wag) Wagner Business Excellence Award. The award will be presented annually.

“The Award has two goals: (1) to acknowledge business excellence from independent retailers and (2) to honor the memory of long serving ERA Advisor William (Wag) Wagner whose service, loyalty and advice went well beyond the expectations of our clients, his work colleagues and our company,” said David Brown, President of ERA. “We honor Wag’s enormous integrity, sense of fair play and friendship.”

Wag passed away in September, 2018.

Edge Retail Academy presented Sophie and Lucy with the award and a check for $1000.

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