Last updateWed, 27 May 2020 11pm

Finalists and Judges announced for 2019 Saul Bell Design Award

Rio Grande, the organizer of the Saul Bell Design Award (www.saulbellaward.com), is pleased to announce the 45 finalists of the 2019 Saul Bell Design Award (SBDA) competition, as well as the two panels of experts tasked with judging the finalists’ work.

saul bell

Now in its 19th year, this international competition challenges designers to pick up their tools and seize the moment. Since launching in 2001, the Saul Bell Design Award has become one of the most sought-after honors for jewelers and metalsmiths worldwide. Finalists must produce art that is not only beautiful, but technically impeccable. It’s the skill of each designer that is truly on display.

The SBDA competition is unique for its intensive judging process. Two rounds are judged by a total of 10 jewelers and industry leaders who are masters of their craft. In the initial round, five judges look for originality of design, proposed use of materials, and aesthetics to select finalists. In the final round, a second panel of five judges examines completed finalist pieces up close, in the hand, and on model, looking for successful incorporation of materials, wearability (except in the Hollowware category) and quality of workmanship.

There are nine categories in the 2019 competition: Gold/Platinum, Silver/Argentium® Silver, Enamel, Hollowware/Art Objects, Alternative Metals/Materials, two categories of Jewelry Collection, and two categories of Emerging Jewelry Artist.

The two Jewelry Collection categories invite designers to create a cohesive set of wearable pieces (such as a coordinated necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings). Jewelers can compete in Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine, representing a line of luxury jewelry, or Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge, representing a line of trend-setting jewelry. The Emerging Jewelry Artist categories encompass two age ranges: 18 years old and younger (high school age), or 22 years old and younger (college age) as of October 25, 2018.

In this international competition, finalists were selected from hundreds of entries, hailing from 19 countries. Winners will be announced at an awards dinner to be held on May 19, 2019, in Albuquerque, NM. High-resolution photos of each entry are available at www.saulbellaward.com.

2019 Finalists


“The Mystic Fountain” by Garen Garibian (Los Angeles)

“Jellyfish Earrings” by Pavit Gujral (Chandigarh, India)

“Star Hen Galaxy Pendant” by Adam Neeley (Laguna Beach, CA)

“Moebius No.1” by Pierre-Yves Paquette (Saint-Jerome, QC, Canada)

“Queen Bee” by Llyn Strong (Greenville, SC)

Silver/Argentium® Silver

“Flowering” by Christine De Vogel (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

“Prospect Palace” by Mehrnoosh Ganji (Melbourne, Australia)

“Suftal Fidda” by Maja Houtman (Utrecht, Netherlands)

“Counterpoint” by Han-Yin Hsu (Tacoma, WA)

“An Elegant Disintegration” by Andi Terry (Liberty Hill, TX)


“The Endless Love” by Garen Garibian (Los Angeles)

“Collection of Thirteen Eyes” by Lillian Jones (Raleigh, NC)

“Spirit & Flame” by Sandra McEwen (Raleigh NC)

“Releasing Butterflies” by Sydney Scherr (Santa Fe, NM)

“Lineal Alchemy” by Debbie Sheezel (Melbourne, Australia)

Hollowware/Art Objects

“Cherry Blossom in Winter Snow” by Marilyn Bailey (Hendersonville, NC)

“The Echinacea Teapot” by Valerie Jo Coulson (Pequea, PA)

“Luminous Relic #1628” by David Huang (Sand Lake, MI)

“Well of Life” by Janet Huddie (Crownsville, MD)

“Agave Pitcher” by Preston Jones (New York City)

Alternative Metals/Materials

“Bear Bones” by Heidi Kummli (Nederland, CO)

“Eclipsim” by Kirk Lang (Seattle, WA)

“Torus Bracelet for an Astronaut” by Ezra Satok-Wolman (Caledon, ON, Canada)

“The Dweller of Unal” by Judicael Vales (Nevada City, CA)

“Light Two” by Ashley Warsaw-Fiorvanti (Hilton Head Island, SC)

Jewelry Collection Couture/Fine

“Sunshine and Shadow” by Valerie Jo Coulson (Pequea, PA)

“Christmas Tree Worm Collection” by Pavit Gujral (Chandigarh, India)

“HELICES” by Sophia Hu (Las Vegas, NV)

“Pablo Neruda Collection” by Eva Martin (Queensland, Australia)

“Illusion Collection” by Farzaneh Nozari (Savannah, GA)

Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge

“Kirigami Pearl Collection” by Karin Jacobson (Minneapolis, MN)

“Migration of Butterflies” by Wiwat Kamolpornwijit (Alexandria, VA)

“A Thousand Masks” by Zejia Lin; Dongguan GAFA Culture & Creativity Institute (Guangdong, China)

“Jupiter” by Liz Sabol (Pittsburgh, PA)

“Fusing and Freezing” by Mingshuai Sun; Dongguan GAFA Culture & Creativity Institute (Guangdong, China)

Emerging Jewelry Artist 18 Years of Age or Younger

“Heirloom” by Jade Adelman (Haverford, PA)

“Mokume Chainmail Choker” by Ethan Hansen (Salida, CO)

“Midnight” by Christopher Liu (Allen, TX)

“Howling Wolf” by Alexandra Ortiz (Fort Worth, TX)

“Seraphina” by Abby Schwab (Fort Atkinson, WI)

Emerging Jewelry Artist 22 Years of Age or Younger

“That Which Could Not Be Done” by James Betts (Christiana, PA)

“Flower of Life Amulet” by Tristan Dunn (Asheville, NC)

“Dinner Ring” by Nicholas Hesson (Holland, PA)

“Open Spiculum Cuff with Black Diamond” by Timo Krapf (Pittsford, NY)

“Splash” by Dillon McNamara (Longmont, CO)

2019 Judges

Judge bios and photos are available at www.saulbellaward.com.

First Round

Munya Avigail-Upin - jeweler, educator and co-owner of Alchemy 9.2.5. fine jewelry gallery

Ann Cahoon - jeweler, educator, writer and 2010 Saul Bell Design Award finalist

Jim Dailing - educator, metalsmith and custom bridal jeweler

Shane Hendren - award-winning jeweler, designer and Rio Grande Jewelry Tech Team member

Gloria Stewart - custom jeweler and designer

Final Round

Victoria Adams - award-winning jeweler and designer

Jason Marchiafava - master jeweler, engraver, educator/mentor at New Approach School for Jewelers

Claudio Pino - lapidary artist, jeweler, designer and Metal Arts Guild of Canada Master of all Metal

Emily Benoist Ruffin - 2002 Saul Bell Design Award-winning jeweler and designer

Marc Williams - goldsmith, production and custom jeweler and designer

ABout Rio Grande

Among the largest worldwide suppliers to the jewelry industry, Rio Grande was founded in 1944 by Saul Bell, a skilled bench jeweler, teacher and mentor who supported metalsmiths and jewelers throughout his life. Today, Rio Grande is a member of The Richline Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, and remains committed to supporting jewelers in every way possible.

For more information about the 2019 Saul Bell Design Award competition, please visit www.saulbellaward.com.