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Feature Stories, Diamonds, The Great Diamond Debate

Diamond Awards showcase brilliant design

The Diamond Guild Australia Jewellery Awards celebrated “exemplary workmanship and creative integrity of Australian jewellery design” at its Gala in October.

Finalists from six categories had their work showcased at the event with winners selected by the esteemed judging panel comprising interior designer Greg Natale, actress April Rose Pengilly, Good Design Australia general manager Rachel Wye and jewellery designer John Calleija.

Musson Jewellers designer Olivar Musson took out the Supreme Award, which is selected from winners of each category. His ‘Aella’ earrings featured 36 Forevermark Black Label ideal square cut diamonds, totalling more than 32 carats set in 18-carat white and rose gold.

No stranger to the Awards, Musson said he was pleased to take home his first Supreme win: “I was first a finalist in 2005 when I was a very young chap, I missed out on the win then. I have been a finalist quite a few times before but in the 2015 awards I was very fortunate to win two categories; I won fancy colour and fancy shape with two quite avant-garde pieces,” he said.

“This year I won the Red Carpet and the Supreme Award, so it was a nice big step up.”

Musson has been heavily involved with Diamond Guild Australia over the years and has sat as chairman for more than six years.

“What I love about the Diamond Guild Australia Jewellery Awards is they’re geared to promotion to the end consumer. So in previous years we’ve been aligned with Harpers Bazaar and Qantas, national publications with amazing coverage. This year saw us aligned with the Australian Financial Review. So the finalists were featured in a 14 page in the AFR, which is absolutely phenomenal,” Musson said.

“All of the finalists and winners will get promotion and credibility to the end consumer. And for retailers, that’s what everyone looks for. I mean it’s great to win an award and get a pat on the back from your peers, but to be able to get cut through to a consumer marketplace and hopefully get clients to come in the door is why we always enter.”

The Awards, established in 2005, were hosted in Melbourne for the first time with television host Jessica Rowe the master of ceremonies for the evening.

Ben Preston black, fancy colour winner
Ben Preston black, fancy colour winner
Olivar Musson, red carpet winner
Olivar Musson, red carpet winner
Brett Wood, diamonds for men winner
Brett Wood, diamonds for men winner

Hannah Alexander, emerging talent winner
Hannah Alexander, emerging talent winner
Matthew Staff, everyday wear winner
Matthew Staff, everyday wear winner
Niki Jackson
Niki Jackson's 'Hope will catch the tears' pendant

Winning designs

Ben Preston-Black of Creations Jewellers took home the Solitaire Award with his ‘Brilliant’ ring, a handmade platinum diamond set ring inspired by the shape of the round cut brilliant diamond.

Jeff Einstein from Jeff Einstein Jewellery and Athena X Levendi from Levendi were also finalists for the Solitaire Prize.

Black also won the Fancy Colour Award for “Fanciful” with Wisan Sarji. The sculptural ring “takes the eye on a visual journey across the swirls of metal interweaved with alluring colourful diamonds” and featured brilliant cut natural punk, white and champagne diamonds.

Jake Coughlan from Refraction Manufacturing Jewellers and Jewels of the Kimberley’s Jodi Penfold were recognised for their respective Fancy entries and were also named finalists in the category.

MJS Jewellery’s Matthew Staff took out The Diamonds for Everyday category with his ‘Flame’ drop earrings; pair of black rhodium and rose gold earrings with a single diamond in each. Miraj Jewellery’s Matthew Townsley and Creation’s Preston-Black and Sarji were recognised for their designs and were named finalists for the section.

Brett Wood of Brett’s Jewellers won the gong for the Diamonds For Men award with ‘Grill’ ring, a yellow gold and platinum grill design featuring a central baguette cut diamond creating a stylish balance of masculinity and extravagance.” J Farren-Price designer Niki Jackson was runner up for the award with her “Night and Day” necklace.

Wood’s entry was his first into the Awards and the Geelong jeweller said he was thrilled with his “100 per cent hit rate”.

“The inspiration came from the baguette cut diamond. I’d bought it a while ago and it appealed to me so much I had to have it,” he said.

“To win a category in this award thrills me to core. Being alongside some very inspirational jewellers is such an honour and in turn I hope I will be an inspiration to someone in return one day.”

The Emerging Talent prize recognised the work of up-and-coming young designers and showcased the work of MDT Design’s Leah Straughair and Stephen Dibb Jewellery’s Brock Hodgson. It was Jewels of the Kimberley’s Hannah Alexander who won the award with ‘Vogue’, a ring featuring coloured diamonds and pearls, encasing several small round cut brilliant diamonds “in a refined cocktail ring design.”

Alexander said the win was her first entry into the awards and “will definitely be doing so again in the future, although this year will be pretty hard to top.”

“This win means everything to me, it’s a reward and reassurance that all of the hard work, training and dedication over the past years has put me at the top of my field. It wasn’t just a win for me but also for my family, friends and most importantly my teacher, Jodi Penfold, who have all supported me throughout my journey in the jewellery industry,” Alexander said.

“It has been such a confidence booster and is affirmation that the sacrifices I have made to pursue my career path in the industry has all been worth it. I am still on cloud nine and can’t believe I won.”

The aforementioned ‘Aella’ earrings was awarded the Red Carpet prize which also celebrated the works of Rohan Milne from Rohan Jewellery and Levendi’s Mike Levendi and Burt Muller.

Musson’s prize-winning earrings were sold prior to the event and were displayed in Sydney for the weeks following. The designer said he was “heavily influenced by architecture and sculpture” in designing the shield-like earrings.

“The placement of the diamonds and the studs that fix them in place was inspired by a commercial building with massive oversized panels of glass fixed in their corners with heavy fixtures,” Musson said of the rose gold stud setting.

“The diamonds are very unique; they’re Forevermark Black Label ideal squares. This is a diamond brand and cutting style that we’ve been associated with for half a dozen years or so. They’re absolutely extraordinary and when I first saw this octagonal shaped diamond, I had heard about it but I hadn’t seen one, the brilliance of them is just incredible. To have Forevermark and the Black Label team to be able to put 32 carats for me is something I’m very thankful for.”

Diamonds bring hope

At the conclusion of the event, Diamond Guild Australia executive officer Melissa James announced the launch of a charitable project in support of mental health awareness.

The Hope Will Catch Our Tears Initiative will produce 100 specially created pendant necklaces, which will be sold by Guild members to raise funds for Beyond Blue Australia and advocate for mental health resources and support.

James unveiled the ‘Hope Will Catch the Tears’ pendant designed by Niki Jackson from J Farren- Price; $2,000 from every one sold will go directly to Beyond Blue.

“The pendant features a single pear-shaped diamond ‘tear drop’ below which two curved gold sections represent a pair of hands. This reflects the idea of being supported through depression and anxiety, the idea of acknowledging the difficulty for those who suffer from mental health challenges but also the importance of those around them that are their support network,” James announced at the Gala.

“We will be offering a limited edition of 100 of these pendants through our Guild members stores over the next 12 months and hope to generate a $200,000 donation Beyond Blue to support their much needed work, but also to honour the many individuals and families that have suffered the effects of depression and suicide.”

James Thredgold of James Thredgold Jeweller inspired the campaign through his mental health advocacy efforts. Thredgold lost his wife Holly to depression in 2016 at the age of 42 and said she was “amazing and wanted to be an advocate for mental health.”

“While I was on holidays my amazing kids, Melissa and the team had come up with the idea which almost brought me to tears,” he said.

Thredgold has been a long-time supporter of mental health resources and is a Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation ambassador where he gives presentations about destigmatising the conversation surrounding mental health and provides advice for seeking support based in his 15 years with Holly.

“I think if we see people talking about it in all different walks of life and they see that just like cancer or any other disease, it doesn’t choose people according to race colour or wealth, then we can raise funds to find triggers,” Thredgold said.

“One day I hope that we can at least help reduce the number of people who suffer form it. If we can raise awareness for mental health I think people will listen.”


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