MJSA – Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America Inc. – is a jewelry trade association representing over 1400 member companies, employing over 60,000 skilled workers, from the jewelry industry and trade in the United States, and includes jewelry designers, artisans/manufacturers and retailers engaged in jewelry design, manufacture, sale and repair of jewelry, from small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) to larger companies, including tool and equipment suppliers to the industry. MJSA is dedicated to the development of the jewelry manufacturing industry by supporting professional excellence in jewelry making and design, marketing and promotion, industry education etc. objectives that are achieved by various annual events sponsored by the organization, such as the annual Expo New York Trade show, the annual Vision Awards Competition, created to recognize outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, and sale of jewelry and the publication of the MJSA Journal, the monthly publication that gives the latest technical insights, bench tips, fashion trends, business and marketing insights in the jewelry manufacturing industry and trade.
The annual MJSA Vision Awards Competition is held with a view of celebrating and highlighting outstanding and exceptional talent in the field of jewelry design, the use of modern technology such as laser and CAD/CAM technologies in jewelry designing, and awards that recognize Custom Design, Digital Marketing, and the Future of the Industry that recognizes the work of students in jewelry designing with exceptional talent and creativity. Since the winning designers represent the future of the jewelry manufacturing industry, MJSA has taken upon itself the all important task of boosting their careers by showcasing their creativity and publicizing their triumph, not only through articles in the MJSA Journal and in press releases distributed throughout the trade, but also by taking out special full-page ads in such leading trade publications as “Instore” and “Metalsmith” magazines, featuring their winning designs. Further exposure is given to their finely crafted pieces by displaying them at the annual MJSA Expo New York Trade show and publishing them in the MJSA website, accessible throughout the year. Among some of the prominent jewelry designers who had received MJSA vision awards previously in their career are Todd Reed, Mark Schneider, Steve Midgett and Lisa Krikawa.
The MJSA Vision Awards Competition is held under seven categories, providing designers with several opportunities, to enter the competition. The seven Vision Award Categories can be listed as follows :-
1) Professional Design Excellence – Open to jewelers in business for 4 or more years. Honors designs that exhibit exceptional creativity, craftsmanship, and marketability.
2) Professional Design Excellence – Open to jewelers in business from 1-3 years. Honors designs that exhibit exceptional creativity, craftsmanship, and marketability.
3) Laser Distinction – Award Sponsored by LaserStar Technologies. Honors entries in which the design relied upon the use of laser technology and any technical challenges that were overcome to take the piece from concept to completion.
4) CAD/CAM Distinction – Sponsored by EnvisionTEC. Honors designs that were created with the use of CAD/CAM technologies and the challenges that were overcome to take the piece from concept to completion.
5) Custom Design Distinction – Sponsored by Century Casting Co. Inc. Honors designs that met a client’s request and the challenges encountered during the design process and how they were overcome.
6) Digital Marketing Distinction – Sponsored by StrategyWerx. Honors a business that has created a digital marketing program (website, social media, blogging, etc.).
7) Future of the Industry Award – Sponsored by the MJSA Education Foundation. This award recognizes the work of students in jewelry-related programs who exhibit exceptional design talent and creativity.
In a press release dated May 19, 2015, MJSA has announced the winners of its 2015 Vision Awards Competition. The 2015 Vision Awards have been won by eight designers in the seven categories. The list of the 2015 winners are as follows :-
1) Adam Neeley – First Place, Professional Design Excellence (4+ Years), and Laser Distinction.
2) Annie Koenig – Second Place, Professionsl Design Excellence (4+ Years), and CAD/CAM Distinction.
3) Baiyang Qiu – First Place, Professional Design Excellence (1-3 Years)
4) Hisano Shepherd – Second Place, Professional Design Excellence (1-3 Years)
5) Krista Robertson – Custom Design Distinction
6) Llyn Strong – Digital Marketing Distinction
7) Diana Telesheva – First Place, Future of Design
8) Eunhwa Son – Second Place, Future of Design
The first two competitors in the above list have won two awards each under two different categories.
The winner under the first category Professional Design Excellence (4+ Years) is Adam Neeley, who also won the award for Laser Distinction. Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry of Laguna Beach, California, won his award for his “Oceana Pendant.” The pendant features a 32.86 carat aquamarine, cut by Stephen Avery as centerpiece, and “Spectra” gold that transforms seamlessly and gradually through seven shades, from rich yellow to cool white. The pendant’s form is the result of hand forging and shaping curved layers of gold, then laser-welding them together. To protect the Spectra gold’s hardness and finish, torch assembly was not an option; laser welding was absolutely necessary. The laser welder was also instrumental in fixing the already-set aquamarine to the center of the pendant. The diamond sections feature a fade of diamonds, from canary to white, pavé set in 14 karat white gold. Thus for the same creative and unique design, the “Oceana Pendant,” Adam Neeley was awarded the first place for Professional Design Excellence (4+ Years) as well as the Award for Laser Distinction, as Neeley was compelled to use laser technology in putting the piece together from concept to completion. Neeley was awarded a $500 gift certificate from industry supplier Rio Grande, Albuquerque, New Mexico for the first place in PDE and a $750 cash award courtesy of LaserStar Technologies, Riverside, Rhode Island for his Laser Distinction Award.
The second place under the Professional Design Excellence (4+ Years) category was won by Annie Koenig of Annie K Jewelry, of Louisville, Kentucky, for her Diamond Wave earrings, which feature curved strips of 14k yellow and white gold that naturally rotate as they are worn. Koenig received a full library of MJSA Press publications. She also won the Vision Award for CAD/CAM Distinction as she made use of the CAD/CAM technology in designing her award winning Diamond Wave earrings. Koenig received a $750 cash award, courtesy of EnvisionTEC, Dearborn, Michigan, for her CAD/CAM Distinction award.
First place in the Professional Design Excellence (1-3 years) category was won by Baiyang Qiu of BQ Jewelry, Milpitas, California, for a pair of hand-fabricated earrings made of 18k yellow-gold wire, bezel-set with a 4 mm ruby in each earring. Qiu received a $500 gift certificate from Rio Grande, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The second place in the Professional Design Excellence (1-3 years) category was won by Hisano Shepherd of little h, Los Angeles, for a pair of earrings made from a freshwater soufflé pearl cut in half and affixed with yellow and pink sapphires. Shepherd received a full library of MJSA Press publications.