Jewelry Designers, Master Gem Carvers Compete For Prestigious Colored Gem Awards

The most interesting thing about this year’s AGTA Spectrum Awards was the selection of the “Best Of Show” winner. It was an emerald mounted on a platinum ring with diamond accents not distinguished in the cut of the gem or the design of the jewel. But even after evaluating more than 400 entries a day earlier, the five judges—jewelry designers, retailers and lapidary artists who specialize in colored gems—circled the ring in admiration. While the judges made their individual decisions, they were learning for the first time the overall results.

It was the 7.16-carat emerald they were admiring. It was from the Ural Mountains in Russia with an intense, saturated, vivid green color and tone with no indication of being treated—so all of its attributes are natural. They agreed that the size, color, the gem’s source and its natural state makes it one of the rarest emeralds in the world.

Best of Show – Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. Platinum and 18K yellow gold ring featuring a 7.16-carat untreated Russian emeraldAGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

Pieter Hye, Pieter Andries Jewelers, a retail store in Southlake, Texas, said he became emotional seeing it for the first time. “It’s so rare I may never see anything like it again.”

The emerald ring belongs to Joseph Ambalu of Amba Gem Corp., who wasn’t in attendance for the media day presentation in early August. But most of the judges knew him and half-jokingly were saying they should ask him if they could design a jewel worthy of this gem.

Best Use of Color – Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. – 18K yellow gold “Phoenix Rising” necklace featuring Mandarin garnets accented with Paraiba tourmalines, sapphires, rubies, fire opals, tsavorites and turquoise.AGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

This is rare case in the AGTA Spectrum Awards that the gem overcame an average design for a jewel to become an overall winner. In its 34th year, the international gem awards program sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association is the world’s  largest and most respected jewelry and gem competition using colored gems and pearls. It’s also a showcase for jewelry designers and lapidary artists (master gem carvers and engravers) to present their best work using extraordinary materials.

Among the other 17 categories, the awards followed a more predictable pattern. However, upon seeing all the entries laid out on tables in an unadorned, sunlit room on the top floor of a former industrial building, it was again obvious that the judges had their work cut out for them.

Best Use of Pearls – Avi Raz, A & Z Pearls, Inc. – Necklace featuring 15-18mm multicolored natural baroque freshwater Pearls accented with 14k rose, yellow and rhodium gold beads.AGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

There were many familiar names among the winning designs and there’s a reason for this. It takes years to learn the artisan and creative skills needed to make an exceptional jewel or sculpt a raw gem into an object of art. But there were many young designers in the mix as well with new takes on traditional designs.

“We had a wave of new designers and first-time entrants – young people with fresh perspectives that were willing to embrace creative risk in their work. Over a dozen of our awards will be presented to first time winners, said Douglas K. Hucker, AGTA CEO. “We saw an increase in loose gemstones in all of the categories in the Cutting Edge Division and that diversity was evidenced in the absolute cornucopia of color and variety in the jewelry divisions.”

Best Use of Platinum and Color – Deirdre Featherstone, Featherstone Design – Platinum “Wonder Woman” cuff featuring aquamarines, tanzanites, blue zircons, lavender spinels, tourmalines and star-set diamonds.AGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

The overall and first place winners are as follows:

Best of Show

Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – Platinum and 18k yellow gold ring featuring a 7.16-carat untreated Russian emerald accented with diamonds.

Best Use of Color

Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. – 18k yellow gold “Phoenix Rising” necklace featuring Mandarin garnets (28.04 ctw.) accented with Paraiba tourmalines (1.55 ctw.), sapphires (4.68 ctw.), rubies (3.17 ctw.), fire opals (1.35 ctw.), tsavorite garnets (.02 ctw.) and a .77 carat turquoise.

Best Use of Pearls

Avi Raz, A & Z Pearls, Inc. – Necklace featuring 15-18mm multicolored natural baroque freshwater Pearls accented with 14k rose, yellow and rhodium gold beads.

Best Use of Platinum and Color

Deirdre Featherstone, Featherstone Design – Platinum “Wonder Woman” cuff featuring Aquamarines (4.54 ctw.), tanzanites (2.44 ctw.), blue zircons (1.60 ctw.), lavender spinels (.46 ctw.), tourmalines (.68 ctw.) and star-set diamonds (2.64 ctw.).

Best Use of Platinum and Crown – John Haynes, Schmitt Jewelers – platinum “Solar Blossom” ringAGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

Best Use of Platinum Crown

John Haynes, Schmitt Jewelers – Platinum “Solar Blossom” ring featuring a 14.73-carat orange zircon accented with tsavorite garnets (.67 ctw.) and diamonds (.65 ctw.).

Fashion Forward

Patrick King, Jewelsmith, Inc. – 14k white and rose gold pendant featuring a 13.31-carat sapphire accented with sapphires (.98 ctw.) and diamonds (2.91 ctw.).

Editor’s Choice Award

Caroline Chartouni, Caroline C – 18k white gold ring featuring a 4.50-carat blue spinel accented with diamonds (2.98 ctw.).

AGTA Spectrum Awards:

Bridal Wear – 1st Place

Zoltan David, Zoltan David – 22k and 18k rose gold necklace featuring a 46.12-carat opal accented with a 3.60-carat round opal and blue sapphires (2.40 ctw.).

Erica Courtney, Erica Courtney, Inc. – 18k yellow gold “Emerald City” necklaceAGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

Business/Day Wear – 1st Place

Erica Courtney, Erica Courtney, Inc. – 18k yellow gold “Emerald City” necklace featuring a 105.99-carat pear-shaped emerald accented with diamonds (4.42 ctw.).

Niveet Nagpal, Omi Prive – Platinum ring featuring a 10.23-carat cuprian tourmaline accented with diamonds, Paraiba tourmalines and alexandrite.AGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

Classical – 1st Place

Niveet Nagpal, Omi Prive – Platinum ring featuring a 10.23-carat cuprian tourmaline accented with diamonds (2.57 ctw.), Paraiba tourmalines (1.54 ctw.) and a .01-carat alexandrite.

Evening Wear – 1st Place

Gross & Currens, David Gross Group – Platinum ring featuring a 20.26-carat cushion-cut unheated yellow Sapphire accented with Diamonds (3.60 ctw.).

Men’s Wear – 1st Place

Zoltan David, Zoltan David – Steel and 24k gold ring featuring a 25.53-carat blue zircon.

AGTA Cutting Edge Awards:

All Other Faceted – 1st Place

Mikola Kukharuk, Nomad’s – 80.25-carat oval tsavorite garnet.

Dalan Hargrave, GemStarz Jewelry – “Frog Prince”AGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

Carving – 1st Place

Dalan Hargrave, GemStarz Jewelry – “Frog Prince” featuring Sunstone (160 ctw.) accented with sapphires, diamonds, opals, black jade, green jade, chalcedony, calcite and 14k yellow gold.

Classic Gemstone – 1st Place

Kenneth Blount, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 91.36-carat unheated yellow Ceylon sapphire.

Innovative Faceting – 1st Place

Mark Gronlund, Mark Gronlund – 96.30-carat round spiral brilliant-cut blue topaz.

Nicolai Medvedev, Impressions in StoneAGTA SPECTRUM AWARDS

Objects of Art – 1st Place

Nicolai Medvedev, Impressions in Stone – Intarsia box with vaulted lid. Materials include: malachite, turquoise, malachite/azurite, sugelite, lapis lazuli, opal, cultured pearl, emeralds and diamonds.

Pairs & Suites – 1st Place

Stephen M. Avery, Stephen M. Avery – Pair of indicolite tourmalines (41.45 ctw.).

Phenomenal – 1st Place

Joel Price, Joel Price – 34.63-carat oval harlequin opal.

Anthony DeMarco is a freelance writer and founder of Jewelry News Network. Please join me on Facebook, [email protected] and Instagram @JewelryNewsNetwork.

[“Source-forbes”]