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JB columnist among 2019 Spectrum Awards honourees

The results are in for the 2019 American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Spectrum Awards, and a Jewellery Business contributor is among this year’s celebrated designers.

Llyn L. Strelau of Jewels by Design in Calgary received an honourable mention in the Objects of Art category. His piece, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat,’ was inspired by a baroque Chinese freshwater pearl that he picked up several years ago at the Tucson gem shows.

“It started with a pearl,” he says. “I looked at it and, for some reason, the first thing I saw was an owl, and then I turned [the stone] around and I saw a pussycat.”

From that visualization, Strelau created a piece inspired by the children’s poem by Edward Lear. The sculpture features the pearl as its main visual point: the owl is on one side, with eyes of black spinel and gold, a gold beak, and articulated white gold wings, while the other side features the pussycat, with cat’s eye chrysoberyl eyes, platinum whiskers, and a white gold tail.

The characters are positioned aboard a green-gold peapod boat, accented with tsavorite garnets, a white gold mast topped with a black south sea keshi pearl, a tiny diamond briolette dew drop, and a sail of hand-woven platinum. The boat is ‘afloat’ on a two-pound piece of chrysocolla.

“I was really pleased with how the piece turned out,” Strelau says.

Judging for this year’s awards proved to be as lively as ever, says AGTA CEO Douglas Hucker.

“The judging week for the AGTA Spectrum Awards continues to be an absolute highlight of our year,” he says. “When we see the entries coming into our office and those submitted during our New York City drop-off program, there’s always a lot of internal speculation about how the judges will respond to each piece.

“After all of these years, one thing is certain and that is that there is no way we can anticipate the dynamics that will develop within the panel, nor the pieces they will ultimately select after hours of contemplation and discourse.”

This year’s judges were John Carter (Jack Lewis Fine Jewelers), Paula Crevoshay (Mellika Company/CREVOSHAY), Myriam Galli (Gemveto Jewelry Company), Brett Kosnar (Kosnar Gem Co.), and Naomi Sarna (Naomi Sarna Designs). 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.

“The spirit of collaboration within our extremely professional and diverse panel resulted in a number of first-time winners,” Hucker adds. “Within all categories, the quality of materials entered was absolutely superb.”

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

Best of Show

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 30.19-carat untreated cushion-cut Tanzanian red spinel

Best Use of Colour

David White, Aucoin Hart Jewelers – 18-karat yellow and white gold cufflinks featuring sapphires (3.09 ctw) accented with diamonds (2.36 ctw) and tsavorite garnets (1.37 ctw)

Best Use of Pearls

Chris Faber, Stuller – 18-karat rose and white gold cufflinks featuring 12- to 15-mm South Sea cultured pearls, accented with black diamonds (5.69 ctw) and rubies

Best Use of Platinum and Colour

Roland Krainz, Krainz Creations – Platinum ‘Emergence’ bracelet featuring sapphires (9.23 ctw), emeralds (1.41 ctw), rubies (1.08 ctw), and diamonds (1.17 ctw), set on a stingray cuff

Best Use of Platinum Crown

Heena Shah, Valani – Platinum ‘Nova’ ring featuring 7.17-carat hexagon emerald, accented with kite-shaped emeralds (0.98 ctw) and diamonds (2.63 ctw)

Fashion Forward

Adam Neeley, Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry – Purple titanium, 14-karat white gold and green VeraGold ‘Aria’ earrings featuring indicolite tourmalines (41.45 ctw), accented with tsavorite garnets (3.34 ctw) and diamonds (2.42 ctw)

Bridal Wear

First Place

Bella Campbell, Campbellian Collection / BHI – 18-karat white gold bracelet featuring rainbow moonstones (20 ctw.), blue sapphires (2.0 ctw), and diamonds (2.51 ctw)

Business/Day Wear

First Place

Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. – 18-karat yellow gold ‘Karma Chameleon’ ring featuring a 15.27-carat barrel facet top tourmaline accented with sapphires (1.58 ctw), tsavorite garnets (1.46 ctw), rubies (0.28 ctw), and spessartite garnets (0.02 ctw)


First Place

Jeffrey Bilgore, Jeffrey Bilgore, LLC – Platinum bracelet featuring a three-carat Russian demantoid garnet accented with Russian demantoid garnets (12.20 ctw) and diamonds (4.18 ctw)

Evening Wear

First Place

Tanja Schuetz, DuftyWeis Opals – 18-karat white gold necklace featuring a 49.8-carat boulder opal, accented with blue sapphires (3.77 ctw), tsavorite garnets (3.11 ctw), and diamonds (1.12 ctw)

Men’s Wear

First Place

David White, Aucoin Hart Jewelers – 18-karat yellow and white gold cufflinks, featuring sapphires (3.09 ctw) accented with diamonds (2.36 ctw) and tsavorite garnets (1.37 ctw)

Cutting Edge

All Other Cut Gemstones

First Place

David Nassi, 100% Natural, Ltd. – 30.19-carat untreated cushion-cut Tanzanian red spinel


First Place

Meg Berry, Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society – ‘Himalaya Rose,’ featuring 69-carat carved rubellite tourmaline

Innovative Faceting

First Place

Mark Gronlund – 119.65-carat specialty-cut aquamarine, titled ‘Beyond’

Objects of Art

First Place

Logan Cutshall, Hunt Country Jewelers – 18-karat white, yellow, and rose gold ‘Treasure Hunt’ pendant featuring a 180-carat rough aquamarine, accented with heliodor, aquamarine, opals, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, spinels, and andalusite

Honourable Mention

Llyn L. Strelau, Jewels by Design – ‘The Owl and the Pussycat,’ featuring chrysocolla, freshwater pearl, cat’s eye chrysoberyl, spinels, tsavorite garnets, sapphires, rose quartz, and diamonds.

Pairs and Suites

First Place

Ben Kho, Kho International – suite of princess-cut multicoloured beryl (181.44 ctw)


First Place

John Ford, Lightning Ridge Collection by John Ford – 6.9-carat black opal, titled ‘Lucky #7’

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

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