Jewelers of America recently announced the winners of its Jewel Award Design Competition, open to JA New York show exhibitors. The 74 entries were judged on the basis of originality, beauty, wearability, and workmanship.

Awards were given in two categories: women’s jewelry design and men’s jewelry design. First-place winners in both categories received Steuben glass trophies. Runners-up received plaques.

In the women’s jewelry design category, Avi Raz and Peggy Croft of A&Z Pearls, Los Angeles, took first place for a handcrafted pearl and 18k yellow gold brooch in the form of a ballerina. The brooch is fashioned from a freshwater cultured pearl and accented with 18 round pink diamonds, .45 ct. t.w., and 78 round white diamonds, .75 ct. t.w. Irina Pantaeva of Irina Inc., New York, received the second-place award for an 18k white gold snowflake necklace set with aquamarines. Paul Dangler of Dangler Studio, Sarasota, Fla., received a third-place award for an 18k yellow and white gold bracelet.

In the men’s jewelry design category, Sonja Valasek of Valasek USA, Oxford, Conn., took first place for 18k white gold cufflinks pavé-set with 242 diamonds, 2.19 cts. t.w. Jeannette Fossas, San Juan, Puerto Rico, garnered the second-place award for a two-piece, interlocking ring in platinum and 18k gold. The platinum segment of the ring is set with a .10-ct. baguette diamond. William Richey, Camden, Maine, received the third-place award for cufflinks in 18k pink and yellow gold set with .20 ct. t.w. of princess-cut diamonds. The cufflinks feature hand-fabricated findings.


The Gemological Institute of America recently announced the winners of its 23rd annual George A. Schuetz Jewelry Design Contest for men’s jewelry and accessories.

Sophie Gardner, G.G., was awarded first place for a platinum bracelet featuring princess-cut diamonds. She will receive $500 and a plaque. Gardner, who won the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America’s American Vision Jewelry Design Competition last spring as a GIA student, now works for B. Sholdt Designs in Seattle and is starting her own company, Seattle-based Ruby Slipper Design.

Aya Tanahashi, G.G., of Saitama, Japan, received the second-place plaque for a platinum pin featuring three diamonds. Michelle Tsai, G.J., of Tainan, Taiwan, received the third-place plaque for an 18k yellow and white gold tie tack in the form of a light bulb featuring a Tahitian pearl. Tsai previously won the Perle Utopia contest in Italy, the Australian Jewelry Design Award, and the GIA Genesis Award.

The winners were chosen from among more than 80 entries, which were judged on the basis of overall design, wearability, suitability for manufacture, and appeal. In a change from previous years, each contestant was permitted to submit only one rendering, and the judges considered only original color depictions.