The competition recognizes the most creative tools, technologies, and processes introduced during the previous year.
Four products were honored this year; all were featured in the December 2006 issue of the MJSA Journal. The event also featured the first MJSA Innovation Award for Lifetime Achievement, awarded posthumously to Steven Kretchmer, the noted designer and metallurgist who was killed in a motorcycle accident in July 2006. Over the course of his 37-year career, Kretchmer secured patents for several breakthrough products and alloys, including blue and purple golds, tension settings, and, most recently, a permanently-magnetic platinum alloy he named Polarium.
The four product winners were:
* Freeman Wax’s HiDef Patterns, a liquid photopolymer that is light-cured inside a transparent silicone RTV mold. Designed to produce detailed, high-resolution patterns for lost-wax casting, the material is suitable for designs with undercuts or filigree. The material is flexible and can be removed from a mold without mold-release agents.
* Indutherm’s VC 600 V casting machine, designed to decrease porosity, failed castings, and post-processing work. The device is a pressure-over-vacuum casting machine featuring a patent-pending vibration casting technology, which uses vibration to improve material flow and form filling. It can be used with any jewelry metal, including steel.
*Nventa Inc.’s Firescoff, a spray ceramic coating that prevents oxidation and firescale, acts as a flux, and is easily removed with water. It also protects gemstones from heat-oxidation and allows multiple soldering operations without waiting.
*Stuller’s Preform ring sizing system, a patent-pending system designed to save time in ring sizing using a unique half-moon dovetail process and pre-curved, pre-cut pieces of metal. Preform also improves the quality of the joint compared to traditional sizing methods.
Judges were James Binnion, James Binnion Metal Arts LLC, Bellingham, Wash., Michael Coan, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Dr. Christopher W. Corti, World Gold Council, London, Linus Drogs, Au Enterprises, Berkley, Mich., Dr. Jorg Fischer-Buhner, Forschungsinstitut fur Edelmetalle und Metallchemi (FEM), Shwabish, Gmund, Germany, Charles Letwon-Brain, goldsmith, author, educator, and inventor of fold-forming, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jurgen J. Maerz, Platinum Guild International USA, South Coast Metro, Calif., Gay Penfold, Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC), University of Central England, Birmingham, U.K., and Tino Volpe, Tiffany & Co., Cumberland, R.I.