NEW YORK. Every year, there’s a prestigious jewelry competition that many aspire to win. The contest is organized by the American Gem Trade Association, a group of like-minded and credible U.S.-based gemstone and pearl dealers, to promote the beauty of colored stones. The contest is called the AGTA Spectrum and Cutting Edge Awards, with the former division casting a spotlight on innovative uses of colored stones in finished jewelry and the latter celebrating expertly cut loose gems. Entries to both categories in the longstanding contest—it’s been happening for 33 years—end up in stores nationwide for sale to the public.
Doug Hucker, AGTA chief executive officer, told me at an editor’s preview day this week that entries numbered about 480 pieces. Among the trends: less Ethiopian opal and more black opal from Australia in Spectrum entries. “We had a lot of nice sapphires in all colors, spinel is still seeing a lot of play, and we still saw some big morganite,” Hucker explained. A surprise in Cutting Edge: no loose rubies. Still, overall entries and the level of talent evident make judging tough.
The judging process is rigorous (I know because I served as a judge several years ago) and is carried out by jewelry store owners, notable stone cutters, and designers. It takes place over an entire weekend because there are hundreds of entries. Opinions about the winning pieces are as abundant as the styles submitted, and everyone who sees the entries walks away with personal favorites, myself included. I saw the pieces up close and snapped photos of my favorites before they return to their makers. (To see a complete list of winners and honorable mentions, check out the AGTA website.) Enjoy!
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