Prime Cuts

The American Gem Society’s Cutting Edge competition honors the best of North American and international lapidary artists

The American Gem Trade Association’s annual Cutting Edge Competition is America’s premier showplace for exquisitely cut gemstones. This year’s judging – held in Dallas, Tex., on April 22, involved more than 200 entries.

Responsible for selecting the winners were three judges: David Brackna, gem cutter and winner of 11 previous Cutting Edge awards; Karen Davidson, owner of Cabochon Gems & Designs, a retail jewelry store in Milwaukee, Wis.;and Robert Weldon, senior editor of Jewelers’ Circular Keystone and a gem and jewelry photographer. While they come from varying backgrounds, the three are bound by a common love of gemstones.

That made their task all the harder. Entering a room bedecked with gemstones of every size, color and variety – most well qualified to be entered in such a competition – is enough to make the knees buckle a bit at the prospect of making selections. Specific judging criteria, well-explained to the judges, did help – although there was ample room for disagreement, re-evaluation and compromise. While the judges often saw things a bit differently, by the end of the process – which lasted almost a full day – they’d reached a consensus on the winnners.

The winners: AGTA’s Cutting Edge Competition includes two distinct divisions.

Division 1, the International Gemstone Showcase, accepts natural-origin gem entries from any cutter around the world. AGTA notes that “the primary objective is to celebrate the beauty and diversity of natural colored gemstones. Entries are evaluated on lapidary work, quality and rarity of gem material and the overall beauty of the piece. Winners from Division 1 form an outstanding collection of fine quality, well-cut gemstones from a variety of sources.”

Division 2, the North American Gem Design Competition, accepts gems of natural-origin fashioned only in North America by professional lapidary artists. AGTA points out that “gems from this division are evaluated on originality of design, quality of lapidary work, technique, quality and rarity of the material as well as overall beauty. Winners of Division 2 are innovative gemstone designs and objets d’art.”

A few winners dominated the categories this year. William H. Day of Day Co., Apache Junction, Ariz., received nine of the prizes. (AGTA notes that Day’s entries were submitted by various owners.) Michael Dyber of Rumney, N.H., received three awards, as did Don Clary of D.C. Enterprises, Irvine, Cal.