The 2016 Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Championships (JDMC) returned for its second year at the International Jewellery Fair (IJF).
The initiative – arranged by the Young Jewellers Group (YJG), with the support of fair organiser Expertise Events – asked jewellers to demonstrate several manufacturing techniques across three categories: jeweller, jewellery apprentice and hand engraver.
Competitors were required to follow a brief issued on the first day of the fair and had 11 hours across two days to complete their pieces.
Winners were announced at a presentation ceremony on the last day of the trade show.
In the jeweller and jewellery apprentice categories, contestants had to design and manufacture a piece incorporating 18-carat yellow gold, 14-carat white gold, boulder opal and a minimum of two coloured stones.
Yianni Lambropoulos, of Giannis Manufacturing Jewellers, finished in first place for the jeweller category.
Lambpropoulos, who was runner-up at the inaugural event in 2015, said he felt “great personal satisfaction” competing with other jewellers.
“It was an experience whereby one pushes oneself to your limits in order to try and succeed in your chosen profession that you absolutely love,” he said, adding, “The event is growing and rightly so as it brings jewellers together and is worthy of international exposure.”
In the engraver category, contestants were required to etch a pattern on a square domed plate as well as make a repeating pattern on a 10 mm-wide silver ring.
Winner Chris O'Neill, a jeweller also known as Chris O’Neill Piecemaker, said the competition gave competitors a chance to meet likeminded manufacturers and showcase their skills to potential customers and jewellery industry members who may not otherwise get to see them at work.
“Numerous people mentioned to me that they were not aware that there was a new generation of engravers continuing the traditional art form,” O’Neill said.
Katie Law, an apprentice at Jason Ree Design, won the jewellery apprentice category, which was a new feature of this year’s competition.
YJG co-founder Ewen Ryley said the feedback from this year’s event was “overwhelming” and several suppliers had already expressed interest in sponsoring next year’s competition.
“A lot of the fair attendees that we spoke to primarily came to the fair because of the JDMC, which shows that manufacturing has a place at industry based fairs,” Ryley commented. “The quality of product that was produced blew the judges away and all the competitors conducted themselves in a highly professional manner.”
He added a live Facebook feed conducted during the competition opened it to a much wider audience, attracting thousands of views.
Ryley said he was confident the social media engagement would translate into more competitors at next year’s contest.
One of the judges at this year’s event was Ben Preston-Black who won the jeweller category in the first JDMC.
Preston-Black said he “jumped” at the chance to judge and was also looking to enter again next year.
“It was great to see a competition from the other side and see how the judging system worked,” he explained.
“I really enjoy being a part of a group that promotes and supports the industry, from apprentices right up to the experienced in all aspects of jewellery manufacturing.
“The standard was extremely high this year, a very tough field. All with very different styles, but all highly skilled hand makers. I wouldn’t have liked to be up against them this time round.”
The other judges were YJG co-founder Brett Low and administrator Samantha Smith.
The IJF was held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island from 27 August to 29 August.
The 2016 Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Championships
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