The Spectrum Awards is considered the finest jewelry and gemstone competition in the world. The judging panel changes each year and consists of experts from different disciplines within the jewelry industry. Entries are judged on a solid criterion which includes overall beauty and wearability, innovative design, effective use of materials, quality of gemstones, quality of workmanship, broad-base consumer appeal and potential to generate positive publicity for natural colored gemstones. Each piece is examined by hand with an eye for craftsmanship and quality of the materials used. Judging will occur during the month of October.
The American Gem Trade Association is pleased to announce its panel of judges for the 2013 AGTA Spectrum Awards™. Each year AGTA assembles an expert panel from different facets of the industry to judge the Spectrum Awards jewelry design and gemstone competition, and this year is no exception. The judges are:
Candace Edelman, Sales Manager/ Color Stone Stylist, Alex Sepkus, Inc.
Candace Edelman, Sales Manager at Alex Sepkus Inc., is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in Design. Her training in design, color and form, along with her strong sense of style and eye for the uniquely creative, proved to be a valuable skill set as she began her career in the fine jewelry industry. In 1997, Candace became a Manager, Buyer and Merchandiser for Chepita in Aspen, Colorado. It was there that she met Jeffrey Feero and Alex Sepkus, eventually joining them in 2002 as Sales Manager.
Since then, her role has expanded greatly as has her contribution to the growth of the company. Candace is now responsible for sourcing and purchasing stones, and developing the color mixes that have become a trademark of the brand. She serves as the resident stylist assisting customers in building collections for their stores. Candace manages the sales and customer relations of the business, and is responsible for trade show activities as well as trunk show appearances.
Candace Edelman recently completed her Graduate Diamond Grading Degree and is currently working towards her Graduate Gemology Degree, both from the Gemological Institute of America.
Jennifer Heebner, Senior Editor, JCK Magazine
Jennifer Heebner has been covering the fine jewelry industry for JCK for more than 14 years. She started out as a staff writer for JCK’s niche publication, High-Volume Jeweler, eventually writing for a number of other brand titles, including JCK Luxury, Facets, and of course, JCK, for which she currently writes about style and designs as they apply to the retail jeweler. Most recently, she’s taken ownership of the Style 360 blog on jckonline.com, posting gorgeous jewels, designer interviews, and other fun, topical jewelry-specific news and product details multiple times a week. Jennifer applies her own entrepreneurial savvy—she ran her own antique furniture store and spearheaded fundraising initiatives as a founding board member of WJA’s Mid-Atlantic chapter—to her unique and entertaining style of jewelry-business reporting, and supplements her writing with the occasional jewelry-education course to better tell the stories of those she reports on. She can be found scouring the aisles of most major jewelry shows looking for new designs and talent to share with her readers.
Abby Huhtanen, Fine Jewelry Buyer, Bergdorf Goodman
Abby Huhtanen is a highly successful Fine Jewelry Executive with extensive experience in product development, merchandising, and buying. Her expertise is in brand conception, merchandising, business analysis, and global resourcing, with major emphasis on high-end product. She is a dynamic leader who delivers business strategies and develops and manages a team to perform at high levels. She is an excellent negotiator with strong diplomatic skills and has traveled extensively to overseas markets for sourcing and manufacturing.
She is currently responsible for successfully growing the Fine Jewelry business at Bergdorf Goodman to $36M, which resulted in superior growth + $24,500,00 in sales. Success was driven by re-focusing assortments and designers into a clear and distinctive direction to maximize the needs of the Bergdorf Goodman customer.
Prior to Bergdorf Goodman Abby worked with other big players in the jewelry world. She started out with Chanel and managed the Eastern region of the U.S with the launch of the J12 watch. In 1997 she moved to John Hardy where she was a key player in the sales/merchandising team as ownership of the business shifted from distributor to owner/John Hardy. Prior years, under previous owners, were focused on growing sales with hands-on involvement with the Bali operation and production teams in order to develop market-appropriate product for the United States. At Robert Lee Morris she planned and successfully implemented new merchandising and brand strategy, by working directly with the Designer/Owner and the design team. She re-positioned business into a high – low model which was trend-driven with more focus on controlled inventories, while meeting the diverse needs of both a QVC business and better specialty stores.
Kiwon Jang, Cutter, President of KLM Technology, Inc.
Kiwon Jang is an inventor and master gem cutter from New Brunswick, New Jersey. He successfully created the fully automatic facet machines, the Jang 1440, 1024 and 801, each with its own capabilities and production styles. His abilities and knowledge in technology, gem cutting, computer skills, mathematics and engineering are unprecedented and made this feat possible.
Kiwon graduated high school in 1973 and started his own company in Korea cutting the new synthetic stone, cubic zirconia. As a pioneer in this field he earned a national award from the Korean government for the 4th most influential person in Korea for his technological skills in gem cutting. He immigrated to the United States in 1985 to open the Paramount Gems Trading, Inc, a manual gem cutting production business in New York, where he began to develop ideas for his automatic gem cutting machines. In 1989, he opened Stonex Company in Warsaw, Poland where he taught how to facet gemstones for a year and returned back to New York a year later in 1990 to continue his work with Paramount and the developing of the automatic facet machines. Finally, in 1997 the Jang 1024 was born. 7 days a week for 10 years Kiwon worked hard at developing the computer software, over 21,000 lines of data and taught himself the knowledge in robotic engineering. It earned him an article that year in Colored Stone Magazine for his abilities and skills in working with robots.
In 2002, he established KLM Technology, Inc, which led him to join the AGTA and MJSA in 2003. As a new member he won first, second and third place in the AGTA Cutting Edge Awards competition with his cut gemstones. That same year he opened his own gem cutting company in Bangkok, Thailand and worked as a lapidary professor for a few years. At the 2012 AGTA GemFair™ Tucson show, he was recognized by GIA for his accomplishments and contributions in the gem business.
Kimberly McDonald, Designer, Kimberly McDonald Fine Jewelry
For Kimberly McDonald, the seeds of fine jewelry design were sown early in life, underscored by a deep appreciation for Earth’s natural beauty. Childhood memories of rock collecting at her home in North Carolina were the catalyst that in later years led McDonald on a quest to find natural gemstones and transform them into exquisite, wearable pieces. Some practical advice imparted by her Southern mother, with her mantra: “Never leave home without your earrings,” helped as well. With a design sensibility for unique composition and a perceptive eye for color and quality, McDonald has acquired a following of accessory lovers worldwide.
Understanding that (for most) buying jewelry is an emotional purchase; Kimberly set out to create a stunning collection of unique fine jewelry that her clients could connect with. In early 2007, she started her own line, launched at Bergdorf Goodman, Kimberly McDonald Fine Jewelry, which exemplifies the esoteric nature of her personal vision and accentuates appreciation for rare and unique materials. The collection embodies the designer’s natural and luxurious style and allows McDonald to channel her fascination with Earth’s precious gems.
Extending her appreciation for the world around her McDonald has created two capsule collections in collaboration with Conservation International with a percentage of the retail going towards raising awareness and funds for the plight of endangered animals.
As the brand continued to grow, highly esteemed luxury retailers in addition to Bergdorf Goodman, such as select Neiman Marcus, Browns in London and a handful of the country’s finest boutique retailers have taken notice of Kimberly’s exciting take on what is traditionally considered fine jewelry.
In 2010, Kimberly was recognized by her peers by being inducted into the CFDA (The Council of Fashion Designers of America). Most recently, Kimberly’s earrings were seen on Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention.
The AGTA Spectrum Awards is the world’s premier colored gemstone and pearl jewelry design competition. It has, for almost thirty years, served as the benchmark for jewelry designers. The competition is open to U.S. and Canadian designers and cutters.