The first annual Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewellery Design was presented on 2 February 2018 to GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graduate Catherine Zheng. The competition - open to students who successfully completed the GIA Jewelry Design course in 2017 - recognises artistic excellence in jewellery design. Zheng was one of 12 finalists from seven GIA schools whose hand-rendered designs were judged by a committee comprised of known industry design, manufacturing, jewellery retail and jewellery publication experts. The Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation sponsored the award as a way to inspire beginning jewellery designers and honour the work of the renowned jewellery design house's founder, Gianmaria Buccellati.

"We are thrilled to administer the competition for the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award. This opportunity lets our Jewelry Design students showcase the hard work that they have done throughout the program and highlight what they have learned," said Elizabeth Brehmer, director of Jewelry Manufacturing Arts operations.

GIA graduate Catherine Zheng was the recipient of the 2017 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design. She was honoured with the award for her rendering of an art deco inspired pendant necklace. Zheng, who studied at GIA's Carlsbad school, received her GIA Jewelry Design certificate in 2017.

"This necklace is inspired by my favorite time period - Art Deco. It has very iconic and identical geometric lines to create a clean and sharp look. But at the same time it is also very feminine," said Zheng. "I think this piece captured a great balance between strength and elegance. It makes this piece stand out by combining elements that are both masculine and feminine."

This year's contestants included students from GIA's Carlsbad, Hong Kong, India, New York, London, Taiwan and Thailand schools. The designs were original, hand-rendered works painted according to GIA's Jewelry Design curriculum and completed during the course. The pieces then went through several phases of judging and were ultimately evaluated by a panel of industry experts. The finalists' designs were on display and the recipient of the award was announced at the annual GIA alumni event held during the AGTA Gem Fair in Tucson, AZ.

The 2018 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design competition is underway and open to students in GIA's Jewelry Design course who meet the eligibility requirements.

The Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation is a non-profit organisation created in 2008 that aims to conserve and celebrate the extraordinary artistic and cultural legacy of Gianmaria Buccellati and his father Mario. Gianmaria's work has been honoured with major awards from both the Italian and the French governments. He has been featured in exhibitions around the world and his work is in the collections of the Smithsonian, The Kremlin and the Pitti Palace museums. The foundation, in addition to supporting young aspiring designers and goldsmiths, also publishes books and continues to present exhibitions of Gianmaria's work around the world.

Jewellery design by Catherine Zheng of an Art Deco-inspired necklace featuring blue sapphire, tanzanite, diamonds and enamel. An ornate pendant hangs from a chain with stations of embellished links in between the chain. Photo by Emily Lane/GIA.

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Tags: Gemstones