By Jacquie De Almeida
Nobody likes tension, but when it comes to jewellery, it is sometimes a necessary requirement.
When Vancouver designer Andrew Costen decided he would make a claspless bracelet set with gemstones along a platinum wire, he knew creating the right amount of tension would be the biggest challenge. Too much of it and the wire would not be flexible enough to allow the bracelet to be put on. Too little tension and it would not spring back properly and fit tight on the wrist.
“I really enjoyed figuring out how it was going to work,” says Costen, co-owner of Costen Catbalue. “Knowing exactly what size rod to start with and finish with was the tough bit.”
Entitled ‘Symphony of Colour,’ the bracelet took home Best Use of Platinum and Colour at the 2016 American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Spectrum Awards and earned Costen his fifth win at the competition. The piece features a 3.85-carat green tourmaline, 4.88-carat yellow zircon, 4.68-carat indicolite tourmaline, 3.52-carat rubellite tourmaline, and diamonds (.70 ctw). The design is based on a previous commission for a male client who wanted a skull bracelet without a clasp. For the competition, Costen modified the idea, spacing bezel-set stones along the wire, rather than skulls.
“I started playing around with shapes and colours of stones I had in the safe,” he says. “I used mostly tourmalines because they looked great together and when I added the yellow zircon, the piece really popped. I knew that if I made the bracelet in platinum, it would be that much more special because the metal is so white against the stones.”
Now in its 32nd year, the Spectrum Awards celebrate the use of gemstones in several categories, including Bridal, Business/Day Wear, and Classical. Entries are judged on the basis of overall beauty and wearability, innovative design, and effective use of materials. The quality of gemstones and workmanship, consumer appeal, and the ability to create a positive impression of natural coloured gemstones are also part of the judging process.
Jewellery Business bench tips columnist Llyn Strelau won his 17th Spectrum Award, this time taking second place in the Men’s Wear category. Entitled ‘Paddle Your Own Canoe,’ the reversible cufflinks feature carved black onyx and rock crystal accented with black and white South Sea keshi pearls and diamonds (.24 ctw).
Creating the 18-karat yellow and 19-karat white gold cufflinks set Strelau on something of a treasure hunt in Tucson.
“I spent a long time trying to find suitable 3- to 4-mm pearls—two white and two black—that were as close to perfectly round as possible so they could roll freely back and forth in the agate canoes,” he says.
With his mission accomplished, his next task was to figure out how to keep the pearls from falling out. For that, he turned to gold wire, creating rails that added another precious element to the design.
This year, designers submitted 492 entries for the judges’ consideration, among the largest number ever, says AGTA’s CEO, Douglas K. Hucker.
“Clearly, the level of sophistication amongst the design community with respect to colour is constantly evolving and the willingness of our designers to push boundaries was evident in this competition,” he adds. “We had a virtual whirlwind of inspiring colours, colour combinations, shapes, and textures.”
Click through for a look at the winning pieces.