The 1999 AGTA Spectrum Awards: Structural Integrity

As many a maturing Baby Boomer has discovered, it’s good to have a little structure in your life. This year, the Spectrum Award judges have indicated that it’s also good to have structure in your jewelry. A highly architectural tourmaline brooch was named Best of Show in the annual jewelry-design competition sponsored by the Dallas-based American Gem Trade Association.

The sharp-angled brooch, designed by Maria Christin Canale of Krementz Gemstones, Newark, N.J., features 34.51 cts. t.w. rectangular-cut green tourmalines and .70 ct. t.w. princess-cut diamonds, set in platinum with a center of 22k gold. “The architectural lines were a big reason for giving it the award,” says AGTA Spectrum judge Linda McGill, owner of Jewelsmith Inc., a retail American Gem Society store in Durham, N.C., specializing in custom-designed jewelry.

Canale’s piece was designed around the unusually shaped tourmalines, which had been sitting for a long time in Richard Krementz’s collection until Canale was inspired to use them in a creation styled “like a Mondrian painting,” she says. “The stones themselves are so geometric – they were screaming to me, ‘square, rectangular.’ ” The brooch, which also took first-place honors in the Spectrum competition’s Division I (over $10,000 retail value), impressed judges with its woven-gold center, which will be an integral part of Krementz jewelry designs later in 1999, Canale says. “This is the first piece out of the box.”

Another architectural design – a 14k white and yellow gold pendant featuring a 4.4-ct. Mexican fire opal, a 3.5-ct. green tourmaline, and a 7.5-mm Tahitian black cultured pearl, by William Richey of Camden, Maine – received the Spectrum competition’s Best Use of Color award and first place in Division II ($5,001 to $10,000 retail value). The pendant is “an illusion piece,” the designer explains. The fire opal, which has a portion cut out of it, is set over a highly polished white gold cup that reflects up to the viewer. When seen from straight ahead, the stone seems completely round; only when the pendant is turned to the side is the cutout apparent. In addition, the Tahitian pearl is reflected in a highly polished white gold plate; when viewed straight on, it seems as if there are multiple pearls. “He took the gem elements of the piece and multiplied them; you see all sides of them,” says judge McGill, citing “the movement in the piece” as one of its winning attributes.

Richey, who created the pendant using gems from “a box of great stones” that he had in his shop, studied architecture as well as sculpture and graphic design in art school. “Most everything that I do is simple, with clean lines,” he says.

A new award; a new division. This year, AGTA created a new award honoring Best Use of Cut. The trailblazing winner is Gloria Stewart of Gloria Fine Jewelry in Scottsdale, Ariz., who also took first place in Division III ($2,501 to $5,000 retail value) for her platinum and 18k red gold reversible pendant with a .65-ct. cabochon pink tourmaline, .60-ct. t.w. pink spinels, 6-ct. opposed “bar beam” cut amethyst, and 5-ct. opposed “bar beam” cut peridot.

Unlike Canale and Richey, Stewart designed her piece before obtaining the stones. She collaborated with stone-cutter AiVan Pham, who cut the gems according to her design. Working with a cutter enables her to overcome limitations, Stewart explains: “I can make the gem work to enhance the design; I come up with these wild ideas and take them over to him.”

Her Spectrum Award-winning “wild idea” came about with “a little bit of input from my husband,” whose vision of shooting laser beams inspired the effect of “colored lights streaking through” the pendant.

This year’s Spectrum competition also introduced a whole new division, Manufacturing Honors, recognizing outstanding use of colored gemstones in pieces intended to be manufactured in production quantities. A category that debuted in 1998, the International Division, was continued this year, honoring the work of designers based outside North America. The Platinum Guild International USA also awarded Platinum Honors, recognizing innovative designs incorporating platinum and natural colored gemstones. The 116 Platinum Honors entries were evaluated by a separate set of judges.

The 330 entries in this year’s competition represent a 7.6% increase over the number of entries received for the 1998 Spectrum Awards. Sapphire was the most frequently used stone, and tourmaline – last year’s favorite – was second in popularity. Cultured pearl and garnet were the next two most-used gemstones.

Judges saw many pieces with mixed, vibrant colors, notably green, purple, and orange. Mixed metals abounded, too, including combinations of yellow, white, rose, green, and red gold. Platinum was used in 34% of Spectrum entries.

Rings were submitted by 43% of contest entrants; pendants were the second most popular jewelry entry. The most frequently entered category was Division III ($2,500 to $5,000 suggested retail).

Spectrum Award Winners

Division I (over $10,000 retail value): First place – Maria Christin Canale, Krementz Gemstones, for tourmaline brooch. Second place – Robert Pelliccia, J.R. Dunn Jewelers, Lighthouse Point, Fla., for aquamarine ring. Third place – David Trout, Coffin & Trout Jewelers, Mesa, Ariz., for tourmaline and Tahitian pearl earrings.

Division II ($5,001 to $10,000 retail value): First place – William Richey, for fire opal, tourmaline, and Tahitian pearl pendant. Second place – Taft, Justice Jewelers, Springfield, Mo., for malaya garnet gentleman’s ring, titled “Checkers.” Third place – Aaron Henry Furlong, Aaron Henry Designs, Los Angeles, for freshwater cultured pearl necklace titled “The Grapevine Necklace.”

Division III ($2,501 to $5,000 retail value): First place – Gloria Stewart, Gloria Fine Jewelry, for tourmaline, pink spinel, amethyst, and peridot pendant. Second place – Stephen G. Wright, Wright Jewelers, Indianapolis, for beryl, peridot, amethyst, and spinel bracelet. Third place – Ellie Thompson, Ellie Thompson & Co., Chicago, for tourmaline and blue sapphire earrings.

Division IV ($1,001 to $2,500 retail value): First place – Sondra Francis and Tim Torell, Art Gems, Reno, Nev., for hematite, peridot, and South Seas cultured pearl pendant. Second place – Cornelis Hollander, Cornelis Hollander Designs, Scottsdale, Ariz., for rubellite tourmaline pendant. Third place – Mark T. Cartwright, Underwoods Jewelers, Fayetteville, Ark., for aquamarine enchancer/pendant.

Division V (up to $1,000 retail value): First place – Gary Dulac, Gary Dulac Goldsmith Inc., Vero Beach, Fla., for garnet, citrine, peridot, topaz, tourmaline, and amethyst pendant. Second place – Elyse Fradkin, Elyse Fradkin Designs, New York, for topaz ring. Third place – Richard Palermo, Color Craft, New York, for rhodolite garnet pendant.

International Division: First place – Karin Stirnemann, Noble Click, Zurich, Switzerland, for tanzanite ring/pendant.

Honorable Mentions: Division I – Alishan Halibian, Alishan, Irvine, Calif., for citrine, tsavorite garnet, and Tahitian cultured pearl brooch entitled “Black Widow Spider.” Division III – Llyn Strelau, Jewels by Design, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, for black South Seas cultured pearl, keshi cultured pearl, and drusy quartz octopus brooch entitled “At Arms Length”; Bayot Heer, Jewels by Design, for sapphire ring entitled “Sunrise at the Oasis.” Division IV – Lee Charles Buckingham, Lee Charles Buckingham Goldsmith, Santa Barbara, Calif., for tourmaline and chalcedony ring entitled “Cinderella’s Carriage.”

Manufacturing Honors: Division II ($5,001 to $10,000 retail value) – Doris Panos, Doris Panos Designs, New York, for tourmaline ring. Division III ($2,501 to $5,000 retail value) – Gene Davidov, Rare Gems Gallery, Richmond, Va., for spinel slide; Stephen G. Wright, for beryl, peridot, amethyst, and spinel bracelet. Division IV ($1,001 to $2,500 retail value) – Jane Bohan, New York, for amethyst and freshwater cultured pearl earrings; Fareed M. Abdulky, F.M. Abdulky Inc., Ithaca, N.Y., for spinel, tourmaline, tanzanite, and intarsia pendant from Temple 1 series, entitled “Being in Balance”; Steven Lee, Steven Lee Designs, Aiea, Hawaii, for Tahitian cultured pearl and rubellite pin; Cornelis Hollander, for rubellite tourmaline pendant. Division V (up to $1,000 retail value) – Mark Loren, Mark Loren Designs, Fort Myers, Fla., for apatite ring; Burdett A. Milkins, BAM Designs, Monroe, Mich., for fire opal pendant; Robert Wander, Winc Creations, Honolulu, for peridot ring.

Platinum Honors: Division I (over $10,000 retail value) – Mark Schneider, Schneider Design Studio, Long Beach, Calif., for tanzanite and platinum ring; Gordon Aatlo, Norma Jewelers, San Carlos, Calif., for tanzanite and platinum pendant; David Trout, for tourmaline, Tahitian pearl, and platinum earrings. Division II ($5,001 to $10,000 retail value) – Marie Somos, Somos Creations, Valley Cottage, N.Y, for tourmaline, cultured pearl, and platinum pin; Cathleen Bunt, Cathleen Bunt Fine Art Jewelry, Kihei, Hawaii, for aquamarine, moonstone, blue cultured Tahitian pearl, and platinum earrings. Division III ($2,500 to $5,000 retail value) – Jack Demerjian, J. Demere Designs, Livonia, Mich., for black Tahitian cultured pearl and platinum necklace; Jason Baskin, The Gem Vault, Flemington, N.J., for malaya garnet and platinum ring; Elizabeth and Marek Beyms, Beyms Studio, Dallas, for sapphire and platinum ring; Ellie Thompson, for tourmaline, sapphire, and platinum earrings. Division IV ($1,001 to $2,500 retail value) – Joseph Bevacqua, J.A. Bevacqua Designs, Stone Ridge, N.Y., for amethyst and platinum ring; Terese Millman, Cabochon Gems & Design, Milwaukee, for grossular garnet and platinum ring. Division V (up to $1,000 retail value) – Mark Loren, for apatite and platinum ring; Anthony J. Vela, A. James Ltd., Glendora, Calif., for amethyst and platinum earrings; Stephen G. Wright, for peridot, sapphire, and platinum ring.

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