2017 Bench Jeweler Workshop Wrap-Up
This past weekend, Stuller opened its doors to over 200 jewelers for its Bench Jeweler Workshop. Attendees sat through a multitude of classes touching topics from stone grading and identification, digital technology, product demonstrations and training, and all things in between. Factory tours throughout the weekend gave a glimpse of the facility’s operations and all that Stuller offers. But the main attraction was the 2nd annual Battle of the Benches® competition. Four exceptional bench jewelers exhibited their skill at the bench in an exciting design contest as onlookers watched the competition unfold.
Meet the Contestants
Day 1: Design
The first challenge centered on creative ideation and CAD design. After given a profile of Crystal Pearl, a fictional client and Hollywood actress searching for the perfect piece to don on the red carpet, participants were asked to design, model, and render a fitting piece of jewelry. Paired with a simple black dress, contestants decided whether to create a ring, necklace or bracelet for their award-winning client. Her stylish inspiration stemmed from New York City, her energetic hometown.
Each contestant took a unique approach to the design. David Adamson used RhinoGold while the other three competitors used Matrix® to tackle the task. The outcome was spectacular! All four jewelers designed red carpet worthy necklaces for Hollywood’s newest starlet.
And the winner is.. Jonathon Smiddy
His structurally inspired pendant design perfectly reflected the New York City skyline. The marvelously, intricate design incorporated architecture.
Day 2: Parts & Pieces Challenge
Contestants found an array of materials laid out on the showroom floor. They could choose their materials and use any tools on the demo floor to create a piece of their choosing — no limits. Equipment ranged from fully stocked model benches, laser welders, engravers, plating units — everything they could possibly need. Contestants were hard to track down as they whisked about the demo floor completing their tasks.
Each engineered a unique project, from David Adamson’s ring with airy scrollwork to Jonathan Smiddy’s dazzling three-stone pendant with bezel set gemstones.
And the winner is.. Jyothi Forman
Her concave brooch featured a rose gold background offset with an asymmetrical flower that could spin on its rivet. The blooming centerpiece included bezel-set spring colored gemstones. “I wanted to create a really warm and inviting piece to represent how I feel about Lafayette,” she explained. “So I created this piece out of rose and white gold with the flower that spins on a rivet.”
Day 3: The Finish Line
Upon entering the Battle of the Benches competition, all contestants submitted a CAD design entry piece. Cast in-house, contestants had to assemble, set, prep and polish to perfection their original entries. Working against the clock, three contestants fashioned highly detailed pendants while Jyothi Forman completed a spectacular sapphire cocktail ring.
And the winner is.. Jyothi Forman
Jyothi’s unique angle earned her the victory in the final round. The split shank cocktail ring featured dazzling engraving, a beautifully faceted sapphire, and a sculpted flower on the bottom of the band. Jyothi explained, “I took my time. My piece is quite simple, so I wanted to get everything perfect and clean it up beautifully. From the top, it’s quite a simple piece but then looking at the side you see all the beadwork, the engraving, and the detailed flower at the bottom of the ring.”
Grand Champion: Jyothi Forman
Crowned the overall winner of the Battle of the Benches®, our Australian entrant landed in the top spot through her consistent bench performance and her unique, expert approach. “What an honor. It was such fun, I had a really good time here, and that’s what I wanted. Winning is just a bonus,” she gushed. And when asked about the idea of returning next year to defend her title, Jyothi replied, ”That’d be amazing, I’ve had such a good time here, it’s awesome!”
We’re indebted to this year’s alternate in the Battle of the Benches competition, Marty Collins. When an exhibitor had to back out at the last minute, Marty filled the spot by assembling his CAD entry right on the demo floor. His skillful demonstration made an exceptional addition to the workshop experience — hats off to him!
The Judges are in Town
A very special thanks to our brilliant panel of judges in this year’s competition. “We had difficulty coming to a true consensus in grading the pieces,” Matthew Tratner explained. “Trying to pick a winner from the work in front of us was amazing .” To decide the weekend’s big winner, our judges faced challenging deliberations.
Pictured left to right:
• Adrienne Keleher, Stuller’s own Findings Senior Product Manager
• Sharie Fogarty, Executive Administration Manager of Jewelers of America
• Matthew Tratner, Director of Membership & Sales of Jewelers of America and Publisher of National Jeweler
• Peggy Jo Donahue of Donahue Communications
Did you attend Bench Jeweler Workshop this year? Which seminar was your favorite? How was the experience overall? Tell us in the comment section below.
For more on Bench Jeweler Workshop 2017 and live videos of the event, visit Stuller.com/workshoplive.