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These Are the Winners of the 2021 Platinum DNA Awards


The winners of the inaugural Platinum DNA Awards, a competition born of the partnership between Pratt Institute’s jewelry design program and Platinum Guild International (PGI) USA, were announced recently. Three Pratt students were honored for their outstanding earring designs.

In first place: a pair of hexagonal ear climbers (at top) designed by Celine Dussaud. The completed earrings, which mix various inspirations from flowers to honeycombs to a spinal column, will feature pearls, and, as is required of the contest entries, will be crafted in platinum.

Jo Sabavala second place
The second-place earrings by Jo Sabavala

In second place, Jo Sabavala designed a pair of dangling earrings called Budding, in which platinum wires lend the effect of a growing botanical complete with roots. The earrings span from an over-the-ear cuff element at top to the moving roots that dangle below the lobe.

Maria Baquerizo third place
Maria Baquerizo’s third-place earring design

And in third, designed by Maria Baquerizo, a pair of fiercely floral earrings inspired by lianas, climbing vines from the designer’s home country of Ecuador. A platinum tangle of flowers dangles from emeralds at the top, the gemstone chosen for its popularity in the country as well.

Next up for the winners: an opportunity to work with New York–based manufacturer Paul Catania of PCAT Custom to produce their designs.

Our Emili Vesilind first shared news of the contest back in November, when it was first open for entry. The winners were decided by a panel of judges including Professor David Butler, Professor Russell Jones, Professor Patricia Madeja, and Professor Katrin Zimmermann, all of Pratt Institute, as well as members of the jewelry industry at large, including Zoltan David of Zoltan David; Marion Fasel of The Adventurine; Deirdre Featherstone of Featherstone Designs; Michelle Graff of National Jeweler; Patricia Gumuchian of Gumuchian; Michael Pollak, former CEO and cofounder of Hyde Park Jewelers; and John Carter of Jack Lewis Jewellers. Panelists judged the entered works on originality, creativity, manufacturing viability and engineering, and commercial appeal.

“Material exploration is a central tenet of our jewelry education at Pratt Institute,” said Professor Katrin Zimmermann in a statement. “Introducing our students to the most precious of materials, platinum, through this amazing collaboration with Platinum Guild International is a meaningful and important expansion of our teaching. The impact on the students has been immediate, positive, and measurable.”

All three award-winning designs, in addition to the rest of the competition’s entries, can be viewed on CritiART’s website, The finished pieces will be featured at the Pratt Design Show, which is currently scheduled for the spring.

Top: First-place winners in the inaugural Platinum DNA Awards by Celine Dussaud (all photos courtesy of Pratt Institute)

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By: Brittany Siminitz

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