Saul Bell Design Award Introduces Two New Categories for Jewelry Collections

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.

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.

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This collection by Sophia Hu was submitted in the Alternative Materials/Metals category in the 2017 competition. The 2018 competition has two categories for jewelry collections.

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 objet’s de 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.”

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 awards dinner for the 2016 Saul Bell Design Award competition.

The awards dinner for the 2016 Saul Bell Design Award competition.

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.

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.

Dinner

All of the winning and finalist pieces are on display during the awards ceremony for the Saul Bell Design Award.

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.

The second-round judges of the 2017 Saul Bell Design Award competition were

The second-round judges of the 2017 Saul Bell Design Award competition were Mike Mann, Kent Raible, Michael Good, Kaminer Haislip and Debbie Sheezel.

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? Let us know in the comments.