People’s Choice Awards

Lightning Ridge Opal sponsored the second “People’s Choice Award” at the Gem Galleria Gem Art Show at the Manning House Mansion during this year’s Tucson gem shows. The competition is designed to recognize and reward gem artists.

John Ternus of Lightning Ridge Opal donated not only cash prizes but also large pieces of his prized opal rough to the winners in each of two categories. Ternus, an artist who works under the name “J. Houston Designs,” hopes to continually evolve these competitions to include gem artists from around the world.

This is the first Tucson gem show competition to award prize money ($500 each) and working materials to the winners and the first to seek input from buyers. All of the pieces entered into competition were submitted to the scrutiny and vote of the attendees of the Gem Art Show at the Manning House.

This year’s award in the gem art division went to Michael Christie for one of his trademark perfume bottles, “Ambrosia.” This is the second year Christie has won first place in this category. He designs and facets each piece, which also disassembles to be used as jewelry. Christie’s wife, gem artist Susan Allen, does the internal carvings.

Helen Serras-Herman won first prize in the jewelry art category with her stunning necklace of Colombian emeralds and opal, titled “Echoes.”