Color Champions

November 30, 2022  |  Jennifer Heebner

This year’s AGTA Spectrum & Cutting Edge Awards featured top-notch jewelry talent and exquisite carvings.

It’s been 38 years since the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) first launched its Spectrum Awards for jewelry design, and 30 since it added the Cutting Edge division to celebrate masterfully cut loose stones and objects of art. Together, these two award programs make up one of the most prestigious competitions in the gem and jewelry industry today, and the winners of this year’s edition did not disappoint.

“The awards cast a spotlight on premiere design and cutting talent, and any professional jeweler — including retailers or designers who wholesale — or stone cutter with a US or Canadian office…may enter,” says AGTA CEO John Ford.

The event took place in Dallas, Texas, over the last weekend in October, with a new crew of top gemstone, pearl and jewelry experts serving as judges. First-time judge Derek Katzenbach of Katzenbach Designs declared the jewelry entries his favorites. “I loved seeing the workmanship of how each was made and the skill levels of the artists who entered,” he says.

AGTA itself was founded in 1981 to represent the interests and ethics of natural-gemstone and cultured-pearl sellers in North America, so starting a jewelry award competition seemed like a natural fit to help members promote their work. The judges’ criteria for choosing a winner include innovation, craftsmanship, artistry and quality. Some of the world’s best-known fine-jewelry designers and stone cutters have been AGTA award recipients, launching careers and earning media attention and accolades from peers.

Here are five of this year’s top winners.

Fashion Forward and 1st Place in Evening Wear

Jeffrey Bilgore
Ring by Jeffrey Bilgore in 18-karat yellow gold and black ceramic with a 4.03-carat, fancy-deep-yellow natural diamond and 0.17 carats of tsavorite garnets.

“That yellow-diamond ring was a perfect balance [of] wearability, quality manufacturing, and simplicity of design. And putting the diamond, ceramic and tsavorite together really made it fashion-forward.”

Mark Patterson

Mark Patterson Fine Jewelry

Best of Show and 1st Place in Carving

Dalan Hargrave, GemStarz Jewelry
A 210.55-carat ballerina carving in green beryl by Dalan Hargrave of GemStarz Jewelry.

“Although there were some magnificent pieces in the competition, the detail, design and quality of that carving stood out from everything. It’s an absolute masterpiece.”

Derek Katzenbach

Katzenbach Designs

Best Use of Color

Robert Galustian, Robert Guild Jewelry Corp.
Robert Guild Jewelry Corp. QEII earrings in 18-karat yellow gold with 21.54 carats of cushion-cut, mint-green tourmalines, two keystone-cut yellow sapphires, two calf-cut kornerupines, 72 round amethysts, 66 round diamonds, and 6 marquise-cut green tourmalines.

“The earrings that won Best of Use of Color provide a gradient effect and took real time and effort to make. There were 1-millimeter amethysts in little curls, and tiny diamonds set upside down. The bead work and curls were polished to perfection. I woke up thinking about those earrings the day after I saw them.”

Derek Katzenbach

Best Use of Pearls and 2nd Place in Evening Wear

Laurie Reid, LFR Studios
LFR Studios ring in 22-karat yellow gold with a 13.2-millimeter cultured golden South Sea pearl.

“[This ring] was so simple and well manufactured and executed. There are very few pieces I wish I had come up with, and that was one of them.”

Carter Malouf

Carter Malouf Private Jeweler

Bridal Wear, 1st Place

Gabriel Angulo, Pompos Jewelry Corporation
Pompos Jewelry Corporation platinum ring with a rectangular emerald-cut, 2.55-carat Colombian emerald, round emeralds and diamonds, and 2.77 carats of custom-cut baguette diamonds.

“The Bridal Wear category had some nice surprises — entrants were thinking outside the box. It was exciting to see bridal options that weren’t the traditional halo. Designers had fun and really used their imaginations.”

Susan Harrison

Jewelry Emporium

Images: Jeff Mason Photography


Color Champions

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