GIA Names Winner of New Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has awarded its first annual Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design—a new competition that recognizes artistic excellence—to GIA graduate Catherine Zheng.

The competition, which culminated with a Feb. 2 awards presentation at the annual GIA alumni event held during the AGTA GemFair in Tucson, Ariz., was open to students who successfully completed the GIA Jewelry Design course in 2017. The finalists were judged by a committee comprised of experts in jewelry design, manufacturing, retail, and media.

The Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation sponsored the award “as a way to inspire beginning jewelry designers and honor the work of the renowned jewelry design house’s founder, Gianmaria Buccellati,” according to a statement from the organization.

“We are thrilled to administer the competition for the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award,” said Elizabeth Brehmer, director of jewelry manufacturing arts operations for GIA, in the same statement. “This opportunity lets our jewelry design students showcase the hard work they’ve done throughout the program and highlights what they’ve learned.”

GIA Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award winning design
Recent GIA graduate Catherine Zheng’s winning art deco–inspired design (courtesy of Emily Lane/GIA)

Zheng nabbed the prize for her rendering of an art deco–inspired pendant necklace. The recent grad studied at GIA’s Carlsbad, Calif., location and received her GIA Jewelry Design certificate in 2017.

“This necklace is inspired by my favorite time period—art deco,” she said in the statement. “It has very iconic and identical geometric lines that create a clean and sharp look, but at the same time it is also very feminine. I think this piece captured a great balance between strength and elegance.”

Other finalists in the competition included designers from GIA’s schools in California, Hong Kong, India, New York, London, Taiwan, and Thailand. All the designs were original, hand-rendered works painted according to GIA’s Jewelry Design curriculum and completed during the course.

The pieces then went through several phases of judging and were ultimately evaluated by a panel of industry experts. The 2018 competition is already underway and open to students in GIA’s Jewelry Design course who meet the contest’s eligibility requirements.

(Top image: Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO; Catherine Zheng, Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award recipient; and Larry French, chief officer North American strategies, Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation; photo by Kevin Schumacher/courtesy of GIA)

JCK Magazine Editor