Cutting-Edge Design at AGTA

This past October, in Dallas, Texas, marked the 21st annual installment of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Spectrum Awards. The competition recognizes original jewelry and lapidary arts that possess stellar innovation and design set in various metals and using natural colored gemstones, pearls, and cultured pearls.

The two arms of the 2005 AGTA Spectrum Awards are Spectrum, honoring aesthetics, design, innovation, wearability, quality of stones and manufacturing, and overall publicity potential; and Cutting Edge, honoring creative achievement in the lapidary arts. Anonymous judging takes place in five fashion categories for Spectrum: Evening Wear (the largest entry category, at 35 percent), Business/Day Wear (20 percent), Casual Wear (15 percent), Bridal Wear (6 percent), and Men’s Wear (5 percent); and in eight Cutting Edge categories: Open Category Classic Gemstone (2 percent), Open Category All Other Faceted (2 percent), Open Category Phenomenal Gemstones (1 percent), Pairs & Suites (2 percent), Faceting (4 percent), Carving (3 percent), Combination (3 percent), and Objects of Art (2 percent).

All entrants are also automatically considered for the Best of Show award in both the Spectrum and Cutting Edge sectors; the Best Use of Color award in Spectrum; and the Manufacturing Honors, celebrating excellence in colored-gemstone and cultured-pearl jewelry that can be manufactured at higher production rates, awarded within all subsets of both Spectrum and Cutting Edge. Additionally, automatic consideration is given to pieces that conform to the parameters of the Platinum Honors, bestowed in each of the Spectrum subsets upon pieces that use as their metal 75 percent to 100 percent of either 90 percent or 95 percent platinum.

The five judges were gem-cutting innovator Mark Gronlund of Mark Gronlund; Alice Keller, editor-in-chief of Gems & Gemology; Mark Mann of Visual Communications Inc.; jewelry design firm and gallery owner William Richey of Richey Gallery; and jeweler and store owner Eric Wright of Village Goldsmith.

The 2005 AGTA Spectrum Awards drew 417 entries, with the percentage of entries splitting roughly at 80 percent in Spectrum and 20 percent in Cutting Edge. More specifically, Spectrum’s items by type saw increases in percentages from last year’s competition in almost all categories, and divided at: 31 percent rings; 15 percent pendants; 11 percent necklaces; 8 percent earrings; 6 percent pins/brooches; 3 percent bracelets; 2 percent other; and 0-1 percent each of bangles, cuff/links, formal sets, medallions, necklace and earring sets, pins/pendants, slides, and tiaras. The Cutting Edge items by type included: 19 percent gemstone(s) (down from last year’s 29 percent), and 1 percent other.

This year again, the largest percentage of gemstone entries were blue (17 percent, down from last year’s 21 percent). That preponderance was followed by green (16 percent, down from last year’s 19 percent); yellow (11 percent, up from 7 percent); multicolored (11 percent, up from 10 percent); pink (10 percent, down from 11 percent); red (10 percent, up from 6 percent); orange (7 percent, as last year); purple (6 percent, down from 7 percent); white (6 percent, as last year); black (5 percent, up from 0 percent); and brown (1 percent, down from 2 percent).