RioPro Newsletter
September 2017
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The Saul Bell Design Award Introduces Two New Categories for Jewelry Collections in the 2018 Call for Entries

For the last 15 years, the Saul Bell Design Award competition has challenged jewelry makers and designers to create one-of-a-kind pieces that showcase their talents, make them reach for greater heights in creativity and push the boundaries of what is possible in jewelry design and metal work.

The 2016 Saul Bell Design Awards

Trophies Lined up at the 2016 Saul Bell Design Award Ceremony.

This year, the competition has expanded its scope with two new categories designed for jewelers who make fine and fashion jewelry collections designed to be worn every day and sold in galleries and retail stores across the country.

The two new collection categories—Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine and Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge—ask jewelers to show a small, cohesive body of work designed with production in mind.

“Raised in a family of "makers" and spending my entire career surrounded by and serving "makers" has been truly formative in my life,” says Molly Bell, the Executive Vice President at Rio Grande, which organizes the event. “I treasure the beautiful arts and crafts that have found a place in my life—including wearable and objets d’art. Some are one-of-a-kind, others are limited editions or part of a collection made by an artist/craftsman. Most all the jewelry I wear was made by someone I know or feel connected to, and I adore pieces or suites that I can match or mix for different looks. The idea of introducing a category embracing jewelers whose passion and specialty is creating collections, really resonated. I hope others will find it exciting to hear that the Saul Bell Design Award competition has added these two categories.”

Attendees admire 2016 Saul Bell Design Award winning pieces

Ceremony Guests Admire Winning Pieces

There are a rising number of jewelers whose livelihood is centered around the design and creation of jewelry collections. The organizers of the competition saw more and more talented jewelers creating design-forward collections of couture/fine and fashion/bridge jewelry that didn’t quite fit into the current structure of the Saul Bell Design Award. They wanted to find a way to include this type of jeweler and honor the importance of their work in the competition. The result was the two new collection categories.

Instead of submitting a single, custom piece of jewelry, a designer or maker can now submit several pieces from a production line for consideration.

The Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine category asks jewelers to submit a luxury collection that uses a repeated element, theme or design. The collection should be cohesive and consistent in its presentation, materials and voice/style. This body of work should be designed to be produced and sold repeatedly. Each piece in the collection must be wearable jewelry. Materials can include but are not limited to: gold, platinum, diamonds, precious gemstones, pearls, and parts made in silver. Items can be cast, fabricated, forged, assembled or created with any combination of techniques.

Alternative Materials Finalist, Kathleen Nowak Tucci

Alternative Materials Finalist, Kathleen Nowak Tucci's Secret Garden Necklace

The Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge category asks jewelers to submit a trend-setting collection that uses a repeated element, theme or design. The collection should be cohesive and consistent in its presentation, materials and voice/style. This body of work should be designed to be produced and sold repeatedly. Each piece in the collection must be wearable jewelry. Materials can include but are not limited to: silver, base metals, plastic, wood, semi-precious gemstones and beads. Items can be cast, fabricated, forged, assembled or created with any combination of techniques.

Designers should submit more than one piece when entering one of the new collection categories. However, outside of that limitation, it is up to entrants to decide the number of pieces that best represent their collection.

The collection can be a combination of jewelry types, such as a necklace, a ring, a bracelet and a pair of earrings, or it can consist of all one type, such as a group of three rings. The defining characteristic of the new categories is that each piece works together around a single theme or idea—as a collection.

Each year the Saul Bell Design Award competition is judged by some of the most respected voices in the industry—designers, makers, editors and leaders who examine pieces for their design, as well as their technical craftsmanship. It is an opportunity for jewelers of all types to put their work out there for a panel of their peers and make their mark.

Do you have a question about what kind of work you can submit in these categories? Email us at editor@riogrande.com. We’d love to hear from you.



A piece from Ashley Vick's collection

Profile: Ashley Vick of Filomena Demarco

By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

Ashley Vick, owner of Filomena Demarco Jewelry

Ashley Vick, owner of Filomena Demarco Jewelry.

Ashley Vick’s line, dubbed Filomena Demarco Jewelry, is eclectic and edgy. Having graduated with a BFA in Metalsmithing from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2006, Ashley launched her business in 2009 and named it after her great-grandmother. Filomena Demarco "was a massive source of inspiration and a fearless female entrepreneur at the turn of the last century,” the jeweler says. Following her namesake's enterprising spirit, Ashley hopes to establish a brick-and-mortar retail workshop within the next handful of years. In the meantime, Ashley creates all of her handmade jewelry from her bright and airy studio in Somerville, MA, where she took the time to answer a few of our questions.

Where did you get your start in the jewelry industry?
I grew up in Providence, RI, which happens to have a wealth of jewelry-related resources. In my formative years, I spent most of my time exploring those places—jobs at jewelry manufacturing companies and classes at RISD really "lit my fire," so it was inevitable that I'd end up in art school. After earning my BFA in Metalsmithing, I was fortunate enough to land a job with jewelry designer Ananda Khalsa. I established a studio of my own during that period and simultaneously began developing my craft and concepts, which grew into Filomena Demarco Jewelry.

Ashley working away in her studio at Joy Street Studios in Somerville, MA.

Ashley working away in her studio at Joy Street Studios in Somerville, MA.

What is your biggest challenge as a jeweler?
Wow, there are so many challenges! Sometimes it seems as if everything has already been done—I think my biggest challenge as a designer is taking an idea or a motif and making it my own. It's important to evolve, to research and to keep it fresh!

What is your creative process? Do you sketch or make models? How do you plan your work?
[laughing] I NEVER sketch! My teachers in college would always get so mad that I never kept a sketchbook. My brain never shuts off, I’m always thinking and creating. I am a huge fan of natural, rough stones and am very material-driven, so my process starts with them. I find my inspiration in each stone I hand pick and take my cues from there. My eclectic personal style is mirrored by icons like Stevie Nicks and Iris Apfel. Jewelry is my accessory of choice. Whether I am working in my studio, shopping or going out, you will always catch me covered in jewels. My edgy yet wearable pieces are big and bold! You'll find they are conversation starters and have many stories to tell.

Ashley Vick, owner of Filomena Demarco Jewelry

Pendant made from sterling silver, crystal quartz, azurite and tourmaline.

What are some of the challenges of running your own business?
I love running my business—it's my heart and soul! My least favorite thing is the clerical end—taking pictures, updating my website and getting sucked into email-land. I'm much happier at the bench, sawing and setting stones.

What is your most successful sales channel?
Craftshows. I love the whole experience—the ritual of setting up and breaking down, traveling to so many different places, engaging with new customers and seeing my super fantastic die-hard fans. They're really inspiring and keep me motivated to keep making. Someday that may change, but until that day comes, you'll find me on the road!

Ashley keeps her tools organized and easy to reach

Ashley keeps her tools organized and easy to reach.

Talk about teaching jewelry-making in addition to working full-time as a jeweler.

I teach metalsmithing to teens and adults at a nonprofit in Brookline, MA. Brookline Arts Center. It has been such a rewarding experience and has helped me sow the seeds of inspiration for the next gen of metalsmiths.

You can see more of Ashley's work at filomenademarcajewelry.com and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram.



Bezel Forming Stakes with Bill Fretz

Tech Tip: Bezel Forming Stakes with Bill Fretz

Jewelry tool designer Bill Fretz demonstrates how to create bezels to tailor-fit a wide variety of stone shapes using his line of miniature stakes in this short video.

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