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Torontonian nabs Spectrum Award

A ring designed by Toronto’s Kathleen Kerr (FTJCo) received the WJA Gem Diva Award in the Bridal category at the AGTA’s Spectrum Awards. Photo courtesy AGTA
Toronto’s Kathleen Kerr (Fair Trade Jewellery Co. [FTJCo]) received the WJA Gem Diva Award in the Bridal category at the AGTA’s Spectrum Awards for her ring design.
Photo courtesy AGTA

The results are in for the 2020 American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Spectrum Awards, and a Canadian designer is among this year’s honourees.

Kathleen Kerr, lead designer at Fair Trade Jewellery Co. (FTJCo) in Toronto, took home the WJA Gem Diva Award in the Bridal category. Sponsored by the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA), the Diva Award recognizes outstanding designs by women.

Kerr’s winning submission, an 18-karat yellow and white gold halo ring, features a 1.49-carat bicoloured Australian sapphire, accented with multi-coloured sapphire melee (0.78 ctw) and diamonds (0.23 ctw).

Overall, this year’s competition saw a 20 per cent increase in entries, AGTA says, as well as many first-time entrants.

The event also included two new categories: North American Mined Gemstones (in the ‘Cutting Edge’ competition) and ‘Best of Single Entries,’ chosen from applicants who submitted only one piece in the competition.

“This year’s event was a little different than the past few years,” says AGTA’s chief executive officer, Douglas K. Hucker. “A few months ago, we had to decide if we could make Spectrum happen. We made many personal phone calls to past entrants to gauge interest, and they overwhelmingly wanted to participate.”

“The foundation of this industry is creativity, even during these trying times,” he adds. “It’s a privilege to be able to provide an outlet for that creativity.”

The competition, which was held on Oct. 24 and 25, was moved to Dallas, Tex., due to travel restrictions. This year’s judges were Michael Johnson (Eiseman Jewels), Monica Kitt (Arkenstone, Ltd.), Clare Adams Kittle (Clare Adams Kittle Company), Chris Pampillonia (Pampillonia Designs), and Ray Zajicek (Equatorian Imports). The panel evaluated each of the submissions based on beauty and wearability, innovation, material use, consumer appeal, and quality of gemstones and workmanship. The pieces’ ability to positively represent natural coloured gemstones was also considered.

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“We were incredibly lucky to have these outstanding judges dedicate their time to us, especially in light of COVID restrictions,” Hucker says. “We had separate rooms for each of the categories and PPE procedures in place, but still had an amazing collaboration amongst the judges.”

Read on for a list of this year’s top winners.

Best of Show

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – Pair of pear-shaped spessartite Garnets (90.48 ctw)

Best Use of Colour

Rosa Van Parys, Rosa Van Parys Jewelry – 18-karat yellow gold ‘Links’ necklace, featuring a 14.9-mm black Tahitian cultured Pearl, accented with multi-coloured sapphires, tsavorite garnets, aquamarines, multi-coloured diamonds, and amethysts

Best Use of Pearls

Brenda Smith, Brenda Smith Jewelry – 18-karat rose gold ‘Black Lace’ ring, featuring a 16.5-mm cultured pearl accented with pink and lavender sapphires (2.86 ctw) and diamonds (0.06 ctw)

Best of Single Entries (Spectrum)

Sean Olufson, Olufson Designs – Platinum pendant featuring a 3.39-carat oval pink sapphire, surrounded by matched pear-shaped alexandrites (3.36 ctw), accented with diamonds (0.54 ctw)

Best of Single Entries (Cutting Edge)

Afshin and David Hackman, Intercolor USA – 7.04-carat oval ruby

Best Use of Platinum and Colour

Adam Neeley, Somewhere In The Rainbow – Platinum and 18-karat yellow gold ‘Dark Knight’ ring, featuring a 9.81-carat black opal, accented with blue sapphires (5.06 ctw), tsavorite garnets (2.56 ctw), and diamonds (0.28 ctw)

Best Use of Platinum Crown

Kathrin Schoenke, KNS Platinum Solutions – Platinum ring featuring an 18.65-carat cushion-cut indicolite tourmaline, accented with blue and pink sapphires

Fashion Forward

Peter Schmid, French Designer Jeweler – 22- and 18-karat yellow gold ‘Lady Gaga Metropolitan Gala’ earrings, featuring pear-shaped rubellite tourmalines (10.10 ctw) and aquamarines (2.31 ctw), accented with diamonds

Bridal Wear

First Place

Niveet Nagpal, Omi Prive – Platinum ring featuring a 3.38-carat oval emerald, accented with diamond epaulets (1.00 ctw)

WJA Gem Diva Award

Kathleen Kerr, FTJCo (Fair Trade Jewellery Co.) – 18-karat yellow and white gold halo ring, featuring a 1.49-carat bicoloured Australian sapphire, accented with multi-coloured sapphire melee (0.78 ctw) and diamonds (0.23 ctw)

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Business/Day Wear

First Place

Nikki Swift, Nicole Mera LLC – Platinum ring, featuring pink and lavender pear-shaped spinels (2.49 ctw) accented with diamonds (1.26 ctw)


First Place

Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – Platinum ring, featuring a 14.28-carat oval blue Sri Lankan sapphire, accented with diamonds

Evening Wear

First Place

Michael Tope, Raintree, LLC – 18-karat yellow and rose gold and platinum ‘Casatheia’ ring, featuring an 8.40-carat rubellite tourmaline, paired with a 2.33-carat blue sapphire, accented with chrysoprase, Montana sapphires (1.68 ctw), diamonds (0.40 ctw), and a pear-cut turquoise

Men’s Wear

First Place

Jeremy Dunn, Dunn & Co. – Platinum cufflinks, featuring Asscher-cut pyrope/spessartite garnets (5.83 ctw) and blue sapphire melee (1.35 ctw)

Cutting Edge

All Other Cut Gemstones

First Place

Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp. – 21.81-carat brilliant-cut pear-shaped Paraiba tourmaline


First Place

Yanqing Zhang Asdurian, Yanqing Asdurian – Jadeite snail carving

Classic Gemstone

First Place

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 12.99-carat untreated vibrant pink Ceylon sapphire

Innovative Faceting

First Place

Thomas Trozzo, Trozzo – 70-carat freeform faceted and carved ametrine

North American Mined Gemstones

First place (TIE)

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 0.80-carat shield-shaped untreated red beryl from Utah

Edward Wilsek, Wilsek & Co – 35.43-carat oval-faceted spessartite garnet from Virginia

Objects of Art

First Place

Paula Crevoshay, Mellika Company, Inc./ Crevoshay – ‘Garden of Delight Mystery Box’ made of lapis lazuli, opal, Sugilite, malachite, turquoise, and more. The hummingbirds, branch, and columbine feature multi-coloured sapphires, amethysts, spinels, tsavorite garnets, opal, and diamonds.

Pairs and Suites

First Place

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – Pair of pear-shaped spessartite Garnets (90.48 ctw)


First Place

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 16.06-carat untreated Vietnamese star ruby cabochon

For a complete list of this year’s winners, click here.

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