The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) this year celebrates the 20th edition of its annual design competition. Founded in 1984 to recognize outstanding design and innovation in jewelry using natural colored gemstones, the AGTA Spectrum Awards have grown to be one of the industry’s foremost design competitions. The 2004 AGTA Spectrum Awards comprise five fashion categories: Bridal, Business/Day, Casual, Evening, and Men’s. Included within the Spectrum competition is the AGTA Cutting Edge division to recognize outstanding lapidary skills. The Cutting Edge segment of the competition is divided into the following categories: Classic Gemstones, All Other Faceted Gemstones & Phenomenal Gemstones, Pairs & Suites, Faceting, Carving, Combination, and Objects of Art. The Spectrum Awards competition drew 71% of the entries, with 29% for the Cutting Edge competition. Of the Spectrum entries, 35% were for evening wear, 16% for business/day wear, 15% for casual wear, 4% for men’s wear, and 1% for bridal wear.
Additionally, certain qualifying jewelry designs were also judged in two other divisions—Manufacturing Honors and Platinum Honors. Manufacturing Honors recognize pieces that incorporate natural colored gemstones in a design that would be attractive to mainstream production manufacturers, and Platinum Honors (a segment of the competition sponsored by the Platinum Guild International) recognize pieces whose metal composition is at least 75% platinum.
AGTA’s annual judging panels are composed of retailers, manufacturers, designers, gem dealers, and fashion editors. This year’s judges included manufacturer and designer Alan Friedman of Alan Friedman Co., Beverly Hills; conceptual gem artist John Hatleberg of Big Gems, New York; gallery owner Michael Ridding of Silverhorn, Santa Barbara, Calif.; designer Mark Schneider of Schneider Design Studio, Long Beach, Calif.; and Carrie Soucy, senior editor of JCK magazine, fashion director of JCK‘s FACETS, and editor of JCK‘s Luxury International.
This year, 50% of the entries were set in yellow gold, 24% were primarily platinum, 19% were white gold, 2% each were set in green gold and sterling silver, and 1% each were set in stainless steel, rose gold, or “other.” Twenty-nine percent of the entries were gemstone/s (for Cutting Edge), 28% were rings, 14% were pendants, 9% were necklaces, 6% were earrings or pendant/earring suites, 4% were brooches, 3% were brooch/pendant combinations, and the remainder of the entries comprised bangles, bracelets, cufflinks, formal sets, hair sticks, necklace and earring sets, suites, or “other.”
By color, the biggest percentage (21%) of entries were blue, 19% of entries were green, 11% were pink, 10% were multicolored, 7% each were orange, purple, or yellow, 6% each were red or white, and 2% were brown.
In recognition of the Spectrum Awards’ 20th anniversary, this year’s competition was moved to New York from its original venue in Dallas. Separately, a special cocktail event was held Oct. 30 at 5th and Sunset Studios in New York. The event, held immediately before the competition judging began, allowed participating entrants an opportunity to debut their work to the fashion community, including stylists, society columnists, and trade and consumer press fashion editors.