This year’s gemstone is a beautiful 4.14 carat green tourmaline with a zig-zag cut, courtesy of Gem-A and world-renowned gem-cutter, John Dyer.
To be in with a chance of winning this stone for an incredible bespoke design, Design Gallery exhibitors are tasked with creating a hand-drawn of CAD render of a new piece that showcases the tourmaline in the most innovative and imaginative piece. A panel of judges, including Gem-A CEO Alan Hart and IJL marketing manager, Leigh Martinez, will choose the most impressive piece and present the designer behind it with the gemstone during IJL 2017.
Susan Blackler, jewellery designer at Norwich-based retailer, Sonkai Jewellers, was the winner of the 2016 Gem Empathy Award with her creative cuff (picture below). Here, she shares some insight and advice for those thinking of entering this year…
Q. What was it like to win Gem Empathy and what was the most exciting part of the process?
Winning was fantastic. As a self taught jewellery designer it is wonderful to receive validation from industry professionals. I think the best moment was actually the surprise of the Gem-A team arriving at our IJL stand – I really didn’t expect to win. After this the real work of making the piece kicked in!
Q. When creating your winning Gem Empathy design, did you start with CAD or on paper? When designing did you start with the gemstone or an idea?
My design process varies – although it does usually begin on CAD. I enjoy sketching and it’s often helpful to organise initial thoughts with some quick doodles, but I find that I can’t really get a feel for how a design is going to work until I start to play around in three dimensions.
As a bespoke designer I am sometimes presented with stones and other materials that must be used and at other times I have more free reign. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages! Ideally I prefer not to be constrained and to be able to source materials to suit my ideas, or to base my designs around a gem which is in itself inspirational – as in this case.
Q. Are you proud of your finished cuff?
I am very proud of the finished piece and it has been especially wonderful to work on such a large, flamboyant item, as I most often work on rings. It is fantastic to know that we can produce a real show-stopper when given the opportunity!
Q. What would be your advice to others entering Gem Empathy this year?
Go for it! Use it as an opportunity to do something different – especially if, like us, you work in a small team and you wouldn’t normally have the chance to work with large, unusual and valuable gemstones.
How to Enter Gem Empathy 2017
• The winner will receive the stone.
• A press release from Gem-A announcing the winning designer.
• An article in Gems&Jewellery magazine.
• A pride of place display for the finished piece at a Gem-A event between 2017-2018.
How to enter:
Send your design (hand drawn or CAD image) along with an accompanying paragraph describing the materials used and the inspiration behind the piece to firstname.lastname@example.org before August 14, 2017.
The dimensions of the stone are L:20.7 x W:5.0 x D:3.0mm, and its hardness is 7-7.5.
Our panel of judges, including Gem-A CEO Alan Hart and IJL Event Director, Sam Willoughby, will then choose the final winner and present their award at IJL from 3-5 September.