Giving Pearls Pizzazz

In this year’s Vision Award pearl jewelry design competition, leading designers from around the world used American pearls to create elegant, whimsical, and sometimes fantastical pieces of freeform jewelry. The winners included a dolphin, a “phrog,” and a dragonfly, but the mighty mollusk reigned supreme.

The fifth annual contest, held in New York in May, drew 76 entries featuring American cultured or natural pearls, and the judges recognized a dozen unique creations. Pieces priced at $1,000 or more wholesale qualified for the Inspiration Division, and those valued at less than $1,000 wholesale were featured in the Discovery Division. Winning entries were displayed at The JCK Show in Las Vegas in June.

Curt Parker took grand-prize honors in the Inspiration Division with his “Supernova” pendant. Second place went to Elizabeth Gualtieri’s “Oceana” brooch, and third place was shared by Glen J. Engelbrecht for his “Phantom Phrog” brooch and Taft for a pair of earrings called “A Gift to the Queen.” Awards of excellence, all for brooches, went to Takeshi Kita (“Wing in the Wind”), Ziad H. Noshie (“The Kite”), and Kyriakos Somos (“Dancing Dolphin”).

Brooches swept the Discovery Division, with the grand prize going to Leigh Wulle for “Waterlily.” Arkady Khasin won second prize for “Fantasailing,” and Stephan Ninich and Chris DeCapri took third for “Paresseux Jour” (Lazy Day). Timothy Grant (“I Scream Cone”) and Alishan Halebian (“Dragon Fly”) won awards of excellence.

The competition is sponsored by the American Pearl Co. of Nashville, Tenn. “We really enjoy doing it. It’s a great opportunity for us to see what our designers are doing,” says sales manager Renée Latendresse. “It’s kind of fun for us, and it gives them a chance to express themselves in unusual ways.”