DIVA award winners

Nina Basharova, an award-winning young Russian designer who emigrated to the U.S. in 2002, received first place in the 2006 DIVA competition. She created a “Heart to Heart” necklace design in 18k yellow gold with diamonds and a coral drop. She received a prize of $2,500 for her entry.

The theme of the 2006 competition was “Queen of Hearts.” The awards ceremony for the 10th annual event was held at V-Bar in the Venetian Hotel during the 2006 JCK Show ~ Las Vegas.

Basharova said she was inspired by images of traditional gold earrings of Fulani tribe in Mali, which are used as currency and heirlooms. “I tried to interpret an ordinary symbol of the heart into an extraordinary necklace made of noble gold and accented with sparking diamonds worthy of a queen,.” said Basharova, who lives in New Jersey. She has been recognized in several other recent design competitions, including MJSA’s American Vision Awards, the International Fair of Amber, and the 2006 Bench Jewelers Passion Award Design Competition.

Second place and the $1,000 prize went to Vista, Calif., designer Nadezda Zudina for her “Ruffled Queen’s Collar of Hearts.”—a white gold and diamond necklace inspired by the traditional costume of 14th and 15th century royalty.

Yoko Murakami of Brooklyn, N.Y., took Third place and the $500 prize with her “Crown Ring” that features an 18k yellow gold and diamond and ruby heart-shaped crown that acts as a cage to encase a black pearl.

Seven Honorable Mention Certificates were awarded to:

• Lauren Bergman of New York, who created a fanciful set of stick pins that shows the frog prince imploring the Queen of Hearts for the final, transforming kiss. The pins are created in 18k gold with enamel, diamonds, rubies and pearls.

• Asuka Miyao of Woodside, N.Y., for her Queen’s Guarded Heart earrings.

• Ruri Verducci of San Francisco for her reversible black and red heart arrow stickpin which was inspired by the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.

• Junko Samarjian of Glendale, Calif., created a necklace featuring a pavé ruby heart encased under a clear rock crystal cap. Black diamond pavé prongs hold it all together to embody.

• Jayne Schultz, La Mesa, Calif., for her Queen of Hearts gold stickpin with a royal purple heart and ruby crown that says “the woman who wears this deserves your reverence.”

• Natalia V. Trepchina-Worden of San Diego, an interior designer by trade, created gold arrow earrings that feature rubies.

•Mary Tanana of St. Petersberg, Fla., created a 14k rose gold and pink tourmaline bracelet accented with diamonds.

The 2006 DIVA Awards were sponsored by The Bell Group-Rio Grande; Brannon hair; Brown + Partners; Chronicle Books; Displays & More; Everything for Love; I Do Diamonds; Koch Records; Ron Saltiel Productions; Ultimate Electronics.

The annual WJA DIVA Competition is open to all women, regardless of experience, formal training or background in jewelry or jewelry design.  The competition is judged by a panel of industry experts who evaluate designs based on their originality, creativity, wearability, and interpretation of an annual theme.

More information about the DIVA Design Competition, including images of the winning designs can be found on the WJA website at www.womensjewelry.org.