In 2009, to mark the 25th anniversary of Golden Artistry Jewelry Design—and to position his La Mesa, Calif., store for future success—Terry Whyte decided to reach out to his youngest customers. So he unveiled a jewelry design competition for local high school students. Celebrating a quarter of a century of business “was significant,” says Whyte, “but I wanted to do something for the community.”
Whyte is now in the midst of his third annual contest, and he’s certain his efforts will continue to evolve and help his store prosper—along with the fledgling artists he’s helping promote.
The Delicate Flame necklace in 14k gold with pearls, produced by Golden Artistry Jewelry Design’s Terry Whyte
He invites about 20,000 students from 12 area high schools to submit a line drawing, color rendering, or CAD file of a pin, pendant, or earring. In 2010 and 2011, entries numbered roughly 300, double the first year’s total. This year’s winner will be named on May 5.
Whyte—plus fellow Golden Artistry goldsmiths and a GIA design teacher—judges submissions on creativity, visual appeal, inspiration, wearability, and most important, reproducibility. He creates three pieces of the winning design—one for the store, one for the designer, and one to auction at the awards ceremony, held at a nearby community center. (Proceeds are donated to the Friends of East County Arts, which supports local art, drama, and music programs.) In 2010, Whyte spent 25 hours creating the winning piece, the Delicate Flame pendant, with 8 grams of 14k gold and three peach-colored pearls.
The winning designer also gets an internship at Golden Artistry Jewelry Design. “By having students interning, they can see that a creative career is sustainable and fun,” Whyte says. Last year’s winner, 17-year-old Danica T., was initially aiming for a career in forensic science, but Whyte says her time at the store inspired her to go into fashion design. “Being here changed her course, and I think it’s fantastic.”
Though Whyte spends about $5,500 annually to sponsor the event—local businesses help defray costs by donating food and wine for the awards ceremony—he plans to continue the tradition mostly because of the connections he makes with the students: “I’ve got an extended family now.”
Life Is Beautiful
Launched last year by Italian jeweler Pasquale Bruni, his Le Joli Monde collection now features “fairytale touches” such as shooting stars and crescent moons. According to Bruni, the whimsical line is “for the woman who adores playing with jewelry with childlike enthusiasm.” Really…is there any other kind? (Sautoir in 18k gold; $2,750; Pasquale Bruni, Valenza, Italy; 39-13-192-2511; pasqualebruni.com)