Excellence Honored At JA Show

Excellence in jewelry design was the focus of many events held during the July Jewelers of America Show in New York.

Robert Lee Morris, a well-known artisan in fashion circles but a relative newcomer to the fine jewelry industry, was the Grand Prize winner of the Platinum Passion Design Competition, sponsored by the Platinum Guild International USA. Morris’s entry was a reversible diamond, pearl, and platinum bib featuring his signature soft, organic round forms linked together with platinum wire. He and the other winners were fêted at a breakfast reception at the Millennium Broadway Hotel.

PGI’s special President’s Award, for a piece selected by president Laurie Hudson, was presented to Heike Panitz of Franz Panitz OHG. Fifty other winners were chosen from three categories: Everyday Platinum, which included necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings, and rings for work and play; Precious Commitments, which included engagement rings and anniversary and wedding bands; and Statement Makers, which encompassed trend-setting works of wearable art.

The American Jewelry Design Council’s biannual Benne Award was presented to journalist Ettagale Blauer at a cocktail reception held at the American Craft Museum. The award, named for the great Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, is presented to an individual who has made a lasting contribution to the development of American jewelry design. AJDC president George Sawyer said, “Ettagale discovered and wrote about designer jewelry long before this was the commonly accepted name for our work.”

Blauer, a former fashion editor for JCK, is the author of Contemporary American Jewelry Design (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991). She is a contributing editor to Art & Auction and Lapidary Journal and a guest lecturer at New York University.

In other AJDC news, the group’s annual creative project, “The Key,” was unveiled at the museum reception. This project challenges members to create a design based on the inspiration of the contest theme. The word “key” resulted in wide-ranging projects, including sculpture and shadow boxes as well as a key piercing a compact disc.

On the show floor, AJDC’s annual Mort Abelson New Talent Award, which is presented to one designer each year, went to Burdett Milkins of BAM Designs, Monroe, Mich. He received a one-of-a-kind sculpture created by designer Michael Good, and a free booth as one of 12 new designers in the New Designer Gallery at the July JA show.

Winners are selected by a committee of AJDC members on the basis of originality, craftsmanship, innovation, marketability, and cohesiveness of design. Applications for the 1999 award must be received by Dec. 1, 1998. For more information, contact Alan Revere at the Revere Academy, 760 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102.

Congratulations also go to Avi Raz and Peggy Croft of A&Z Pearls, Los Angeles, whose piece received the Jewelers of America 1998 Jewel Award. The piece is a one-of-a-kind brooch featuring a fancy-shaped fresh-water pearl rose with Keshi pearl leaves and platinum and diamond accents. The 1998 annual JA New Designer of the Year award went to Wilhardt & King of Eugene, Ore. Partners Liesl Karin Wilhardt and Edward King were honored for their collection of rich gold and colored gemstone designs.

Finally, Italian luxury jeweler Damiani invited a select group of retailers and industry VIP’s to meet Italian film star and company spokeswoman Isabella Rossellini at a reception at the New York Public Library.

Design Finds Manhattan Transfer

Designer Barbara Terrell Pujol, who hails from the Little Apple of Manhattan, Kan., uses finely detailed textures in gold and sterling silver. Terrell Pujol, trained in all aspects of metalsmithing and jewelry design at Kansas State University, is inspired by pattern and texture – the intricate patterns of sea life, the earth’s rugged terrain, and the sumptuousness of fine fabrics.

“I tend to treat metal as I would treat fabric,” Terrell Pujol says. She also loves to sew and finds her enjoyment of sewing exerts a strong influence on the way she works with gold and silver.

“The techniques of folding, pleating, hemming, and forming in fashion quite naturally overflowed to the process of metals,” she says. Her jewelry is made using a variety of hammers to pleat and hem the metal; a roll mill to create a number of intricate patterns; and the process of reticulation, which results in one-of-a-kind surface treatments. She also likes to play with subtle colors, using silver and various karatages of gold or white and yellow gold to achieve a more interesting look.

All pieces are handmade, and each one differs slightly from the others. Her collection includes earrings, pendants, cuff bracelets, and necklaces that retail from around $200 up to $2,000. Most are sold in jewelry stores and galleries.

Unlike many other designers, who want to expand their production to include large markets, Terrell Pujol says she loves designing and producing each piece in her home workshop. “There is something so satisfying about making a piece completely by hand that I have never contemplated moving into mass production.”

Other concerns, gleaned from her sewing, are perfect fit and comfort of wear, making sure that earrings are not too heavy or that a necklace lies beautifully on the body. “Jewelry should be so comfortable and feel so natural that you can forget that you are wearing it.”

Barbara Terrell Pujol, 2002 Rockhill Circle, Manhattan, KS 66502;

(785) 537-0904.

Soul Sisters: Slane & Slane

Heath and Landon Slane are one design team that doesn’t let a little thing like 3,000 miles interfere with its work – Heath is based in Los Angeles and Landon in New York. The sisters started their business because they have always loved the cool elegance of sterling silver but couldn’t find the quality and craftsmanship they wanted in silver jewelry. Most sterling stuff on the market was either too trendy or not up to their exacting standards, they say.

What to do? Create their own line of sterling silver jewelry, of course! They began with a simple concept: to create a line of high-end, elegant, classically influenced sterling silver jewelry that would be as wearable with blue jeans at a barbecue as with black tie at the opera. Using clean lines, bold dimensions, and a style influenced by architecture, the sisters created a line of chain-link necklaces in a variety of patterns and lengths as well as bracelets, large rings, cufflinks, and earrings. The craftsmanship of these pieces is impeccable, the quality normally dedicated to gold or platinum.

According to the sisters, the pieces are dramatic, yet at the same time warm and feminine, with different shapes and textures meant to be interchanged to highlight each collector’s individual taste. Retailing from $200 to $1,250, their four-theme silver collection is aimed at better department and specialty stores and fine jewelers. Recently, the sisters also expanded their signature style to 18k gold, appealing to women who prefer yellow metal to white.

Slane & Slane, 27 W. 20th St., Suite 503, New York, NY 10011; (212) 645-9007.

Latitude with Attitude

Like French women, French jewelers know how to get attention and make a strong fashion point at the same time. New from Christian Bernard Diffusion is a collection called Latitudes, a series of earrings, rings, pendants, and bracelets intended to give a woman the option of dress or casual wear. There are two parts to the collection: Stellaire, of celestial and star-like motifs with diamonds and sapphires in white and yellow gold; and Telluride, all yellow gold with rough and polished textures, some pieces accented with sapphires and diamonds.

Christian Bernard Diffusion, Courtabouef, France; tel.: (33 1) 69 86 50 56.

Fashionably Secure

Vintage Creations offers a new sterling silver whistle pendant, a fully functional whistle available with either black onyx or white mother of pearl, accented with prong-set marcasites and an amethyst center stone. Each whistle comes on a 24-in. sterling mesh chain, enhanced with two marcasite beads. Suggested retail, $146. Vintage Creations, 22 Throckmorton St., Freehold, NJ 07728; (212) 889-3894.