Bonasso wins PJA design competition

The Pennsylvania Jewelers Association announced the winners of its Seventh Annual Jewelry Design Competition. All winners received a Keystone Award for Excellence in Design trophy and a cash prize.

The winners were announced at the 96th Annual PJA Convention at the Holiday Inn North Hills, Pittsburgh, Pa., on September 28. The announcement was made aboard Gateway Clipper Fleet’s Liberty Belle during the annual Gala Dinner celebration.

Owners, managers and employees of PJA member-retail stores are eligible for the competition. Entries are one-of-a-kind, and have been designed and crafted by the entrant. Judging criteria includes overall design and craftsmanship. PJA uses past winners and industry-respected jewelers as judges.

First Place

Joseph A. Bonasso, III

J.A.B. Jewelry, McMurray, Pa.

Bonasso’s first place winner was a ring featuring 1.11 ct., rectangular-cut Aquamarine and .48 total ct. weight of round diamonds set in white gold. The ring has a unique combination of brushed and polished finishes to the gold. This was his first entry in the PJA’s design competition.

Bonasso’s winning design piece will be entered into Jewelers of America’s National Affiliate Design Competition (NADC) to represent Pennsylvania. The NADC will be held in New York City in February 2003.

For eighteen years, Bonasso has been perfecting his skills in the jewelry industry. His interest in jewelry started while attending St. Clair High School. After graduating, he began as an apprentice with Maeno Jewelers in Pittsburgh and worked and learned there for five years. After one year of sub-contracting work from other retail jewelers, Bonasso opened his own store in 1989. J.A.B. Jewelry specializes in custom work. Bonasso has earned the title of Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America and is near completing the coursework for the prestigious Graduate Gemologist diploma. In addition, he has earned the status of Candidate Member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers.

Second Place

Brenda Emanuel

PA Freeman Jewelers, Allentown, Pa.

Emanuel’s entry was a yellow gold and platinum pendent featuring a 3.57-ct., rectangular-cut blue tourmaline. Additional gemstones accenting the piece were a .36-ct. trillion-cut rhodolite garnet, a .16-ct. round tsavorite, and .21 total ct. weight in round diamonds. This was her first entry in the PJA’s design competition.

Since at the age of 14, Emanuel has been involced in the jewelry industry. She began as an apprentice and attended the Gemological Institute of America at 17 where she received the Graduate Gemologist diploma from G.I.A. She has worked as an appraiser and a diamond buyer, but for the past six years has been a bench jeweler of PA Freeman Jewelers. Prior to entering the PJA’s design competition, Emanuel was a finalist in the 2000 Signity National Colored Gemstone Design Competition with a handcrafted, originally designed earring jacket.

Third Place

John Hughes

Gala Jewelers, White Oak, Pa.

Hughes’ third place winner was a unique pin/pendant piece, hand-fabricated using white, yellow, pink, and green gold. The piece featured diamonds and peridots. In 2000, Hughes received the Keystone Award for Excellence in Design—second place for his entry in the PJA’s Annual Jewelry Design Competition. Hughes has worked as a designer and craftsman for Gala Jewelers of White Oak since 1998. Hughes has more than 17 years experience in the jewelry industry.