Meet Brittany Pata: The 2021 March Bridal Madness Champion

The 2021 winner of our annual March Bridal Madness contest is Brittany Pata, a custom jewelry designer at Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis, MD!

I had the honor of speaking with Brittany and asking her some questions about her design journey, as well as her personal life! Learn more about Brittany and her winning March Bridal Madness design below.

Congratulations, Brittany, on being crowned the 12th annual March Bridal Madness champion! Before we get into the design, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I got married in May 2019 to my husband, Nick. Nick is a D.C. Firefighter who also volunteers in his spare time. We have two dogs, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Husky. We are a fun outdoorsy family, but we also just love to snuggle up on the couch with the pups and watch a movie.

A little about my background. I went to Florida State University (Go Seminoles!) and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. I have always been very artistic and my ability to draw and paint was an amazing gift I was given. When I was in grade school, I actually won a few art contests and dreamed about one day becoming a muralist, but fell into graphic design and loved it. After graduating, I realized there was something huge missing from my life and my career, and that was people. Sitting behind a computer designing just wasn’t enough for me.

That’s so interesting! How did your background get you into the jewelry industry?

This is a really good story! My mom is a philanthropist and has been on the Hospice Gala board for many years, and three years ago asked me if I would help volunteer at their annual Hospice Gala Event. When I got there, employees from Zachary’s Jewelers were there giving away a big-ticket item they were donating, and they needed help selling the raffle tickets. I stepped in, and Evangeline, the owner’s sister, and Constance, who is our COO, were impressed with the way I was selling and handling the raffle ticket purchases and told me that if they had a position open at the store, I would be the first person they called. Not even 6 months later I get a call for an interview, and the rest is history!

That’s an awesome story. I can tell you are passionate about what you do! Tell me, what is the story behind the winning design?

A young man came in and wanted to propose to his girlfriend, and luckily had acquired a beautiful family stone, a round brilliant diamond. Even though I have only been in jewelry for a couple years, I have always been able to see people well, and this young man was the first young man I had sat with that I could feel the loved he felt for her just seeping from every part of him. I could tell this young man truly just could not wait to start his life with her.

He wanted to create something special, so we landed on doing a fun and unique starburst halo style setting, and I was able to send him a few ideas using different shaped diamonds in different patterns, and he chose the winning design that you see here! He put all his trust in me, and together with Zachary’s Jewelers, we created a beautiful one-of-a-kind setting that she absolutely adores! When I handed the finished piece to my customer, we both teared up and it was such a beautiful moment.

It’s truly wonderful, the moments jewelers get to experience with customers, especially for occasions of this magnitude! Did you have any inspiration for the design?

A couple weeks prior to meeting my customer, Stuller had some website banners showcasing their new starburst style halo rings, and the ring I designed pulled some characteristics from one of those styles! When he came in and said he wanted to do something a little playful and fun, I knew exactly the direction to go based on the inspiration I had seen from visiting the Stuller website.

I think the starburst-style rings are becoming really popular, and rightfully so. They are beautiful! Can you tell me about the design process of this ring?

The process started off by me as the designer coming up with different drawn ideas to showcase his family’s stone. I have attached a photo of this. Then he chose the one he liked best, and after the estimate was approved, the CAD render images were sent to him for approval. He was very excited to move onto the next step!

After that, we met once more for me to show him the WAX, which we created for him to look at and approve before the ring went to casting and setting. He ended up being thrilled with the wax and loved every step of the process. When the finished product was completed, I took it outside, like I always do for all my custom designs, and took a few nicely lit images and videos of the ring to send to him with a text saying, “It’s HERE! And it’s Beautiful!”.

I’m sure he LOVED it, I know I did. You just might have to design my engagement ring! Outside of work, what are some of your interests or hobbies?

I am an avid dog lover, Peloton Spinner, scuba-diver, Netflix binger, sunset lover, crafter, and boat day enthusiast. I also love having a cocktail downtown Annapolis with friends on a warm summer day.

Thanks so much for sharing Brittany! We here at Stuller are so thrilled with your design. We are sure you made one lucky lady very happy. Be sure to check out Zachary’s Jewelers if you’re in the Annapolis area, and be sure to keep up with them on their Facebook and Instagram.

Additionally, follow Brittany’s personal design page on Instagram here to keep up with her journey in the industry as a jewelry designer.


Want to learn about last year’s March Bridal Madness winner? Check out our feature of the 2020 champion here!




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Peek Inside the 2020-2021 Packaging & Displays Catalog

A great way to keep your customers engaged long after they’ve left the sales floor is through your packaging.  Make sure your packaging is a reflection of your brand and your store’s personality and has your name on it.

Luckily, Packaging and Displays 2020–2021 has you covered! With new styles in complementary colors and finishes, this release makes it easier than ever for you to build your brand, seal a lasting first impression, and enhance the beauty of your jewelry.

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In this newest installment, we began the catalog with our custom imprinting section. This helps you keep your brand top of mind through different processes including hot foil stamping and digital imprinting.  As you browse the section, look for the icons below to indicate those processes.

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Foil Stamping Icon Digital Imprinting Icon

For more on our custom imprinting services, check out our services page on Stuller.com.  You can also watch the video below.

That’s not all you can expect to find in our new catalog.  We’ve highlighted our new products within the book with “New” badges.  The badge will be an easy indicator to look for new products as well as new colors/styles within existing collections.

Don’t have a logo or brand? Let us help you make one by using example templates. Check out our Custom Imprinting page for details.

Build your brand by using the provided logo templates.  Plus, we’ve made Case by Case® its own section.  The customized, made-to-order display program allows you to put together your own display combinations that inspire sales.

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There is no better option than a gold-trimmed rose to promise someone a love that endures.  In our new catalog, you’ll find an array of new 24-karat gold-trimmed roses along with beauties that colorfully represent each birth month. 

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Plus, enter to win our catalog contest!

This year has been challenging, but now is the time to create a vision for building your business back up.

Through the end of July, use your old Stuller packaging and displays catalog to create a vision board that represents what you want for your business for the rest of 2020. Once you submit a photo or video of your board to our Facebook or Instagram, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $250 Stuller account credit. You can view the contest details and rules here.   

We wish you great success with Packaging and Displays 2020–2021!


How do you plan on utilizing our new Packaging and Displays catalog? Let us know in the comments below!




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Meet Michael Nashef: The 2020 March Bridal Madness Champion

The 2020 March Bridal Madness Champion is Michael Nashef, owner of Intersecting Hearts in Portage, Michigan

Michael, Congratulations on your well-earned title of 2020 March Bridal Madness Champion. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I discovered design as a teenager, learning about leatherwork with my brother when I was 14. As I got older I began creating woodwork and jewelry. In 2006 I became the first graduate with a BFA of the Metal/Jewelry design program at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, later getting an MFA in Jewelry Design at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I always love to incorporate elements of travel, nature, and architecture into my work, creating one-of-a-kind pieces with gold, silver, and unique gemstones.

What’s the story behind your store’s clever name?

When I was researching symbols of love when I was gearing up to propose to my wife, I kept seeing the same motif: the heart shape. The concept of Intersecting Hearts was born from that idea of two overlapping hearts because to me, that creates a symbolism of the harmonies two people bring to a relationship. Just like my wife and I, every couple has their own story, and I wanted to be able to represent that with a unique, simple design.


What’s the story behind your winning design?

For this specific ring, my customer wanted to use a genuine purple sapphire, which I purchased from Stuller, and wanted to have a wide band. So I took one of my designs, Deco, and put two bands with diamonds on each side to make it wider. 

Where did you find inspiration for this design?

This is an Art Deco-inspired ring, with the Intersecting Hearts symbol nestled between the scrollwork containing small side diamonds.

Can you tell us all about your creative design process?

I always love to incorporate elements of travel, nature, and architecture into my work, creating one-of-a-kind pieces with gold, silver, and unique gemstones. This piece fell right within that wheelhouse.

Throughout your career, what’s something that sticks out as a high point?

Creating my MFA thesis work, which can be seen on my website

What impact has custom design software had on your business?

It has a tremendous impact on my career and business. Using software, specifically Matrix 9.0, allowed me to bring my design to life without incurring big expenses in production. It allowed me to showcase designs to customers and bring their designs and ideas to life without the labor-intensive of wax carving and manufacturing, until the customer is ready to move forward after seeing the renders.  

How did you come to learn about and use Stuller as a resource in your business?

As a person who started as a bench jeweler, Stuller is one of the most essential companies to have an account/business with because they have everything under one roof, including all of the knowledge everyone has!

Outside of work, what are your interests and hobbies?

I love woodworking, gardening, and creating birthday cakes for my daughter!


Another huge Congrats to Michael and a huge thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s challenge!




Get Ready for 2020 March Bridal Madness

Are you excited about our 8th annual March Bridal Madness jewelry contest?

 The rules are simple:

  1. “Like” Stuller on Facebook.
  2. Email an image or render of your custom engagement ring or wedding band design to stuller@stuller.com.
  3. The pictures with the most Facebook fan votes move on to final judging.

The winner receives a Stuller account credit valued at $1,000, and their design will be featured on all of Stuller’s social avenues. We will begin accepting submissions on Sunday, March 1 until March 15.

See official March Bridal Madness rules here


Meet Katelynne Eslick: The Reigning March Bridal Madness Champion

2019 March Bridal Madness Champion Katelynne Eslick Headshot

Katelynne is the owner and operator of Sugar Plum Jewelry Co. in Glendive, Montana. She’s a third-generation jeweler — her grandfather was a watchmaker and later opened her family’s jewelry store; her father has been in the business for 40+ years.

Fun Fact: Sugarplum is what Katelynne has been called by mother her entire life. So when it came time to name her store, she went with Sugar Plum Jewelry, which she says reflects her as well as her craft.

 

Katelynne’s Submission Inspiration

“Because this was a remount using the stones my clients had available, I had to find an interesting way to use asymmetry to make something aesthetically pleasing. I designed this with a white gold band and rose gold settings for the main diamonds. The stones have just a bit of warm color to them, so the rose gold really complements them while setting them apart from the rest of the ring. The bezel settings are functional because of my customer’s lifestyle and the type of work she does,” she explains.

2019 March Bridal Madness Champion Katelynne Eslick Winning Ring 2   2019 March Bridal Madness Champion Katelynne Eslick Winning Ring

 

“The wedding bands were designed to hug the main ring, and I also really loved the symbolism of ‘Now, Tomorrow, Forever’ that we achieved by making double wedding bands.

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“In my free time, I love spending time with my kids! My husband and I have three children: a 13-year-old boy and twin 11-year-old girls. My daughters have taken some interest in jewelry making, so I get to spend a little time with them at work too! My husband and I also play in a rock-and-roll band called Mighty Big Jim and the Tall Boys. My nickname in the band is Princess Kate!”

 


Check out more from our 2019 March Bridal Madness winner, or see all of the contest entries from last year on our Facebook. Which design is your favorite?




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Meet Carlos Arizmendi: The Reigning March Bridal Madness Champion

Are you excited about this year’s March Bridal Madness contest? The rules of the game are simple:

  1. “Like” Stuller on Facebook.
  2. Submit an image of your custom designed engagement ring or wedding band to stuller@stuller.com or via our Facebook Messenger.
  3. The pictures with the most fan votes moves on to final judging.

The stakes are high! The winner receives a Stuller account credit valued at $1,000, and we feature their design on all of Stuller’s social avenues. We will begin accepting submissions on Monday, February 26 until March 15.

See official March Bridal Madness rules here


Meet Carlos Arizmendi: The Reigning March Bridal Madness Champion

March Bridal Madness Art Gems Staff

The Art & Gems Jewelers Crew

I was roughly 14 years old when my mom sent me to my uncle’s jewelry shop to lend a hand. I began as an errand boy, though unbeknownst to me, I was training to make jewelry. Most apprentices learn their craft by first doing repairs. However, my uncle taught me how to create new jewelry. Frequently, I didn’t quite understand what I was doing; but I knew I needed to roll wires and make circles. Before long, I’d created a chain! That sort of training moved me toward design. My repair craft followed later, well into adulthood.

Today, at my studio, I design, supervise production, and control quality. My son is the CAD designer with three additional employees who help with production (one employee not pictured above).

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My son Gino and me

We ventured into CAD design nearly nine years ago. A constant learning process, we’ve tested different software and equipment, like our 3D growing machines for example. We started with a third-hand SolidScape MMII machine, a milling machine, and now we operate with an EnvisionTec. Technology has had a profound impact on my business. With the arrival of CAD, our store made a 180º turn. These days, we wouldn’t survive without CAD and 3D Printing.

Customization comes naturally to me because that’s how I learned this business. My studio started with custom design and customers know that. When I get an idea for a design, I like to sketch it right away on a piece of paper. Then, I refine the sketch though it still doesn’t have to be perfect. Then I approach Gino, my son and our CAD designer, and explain to him what I’d like to accomplish.

I can’t precisely pinpoint where my inspiration originates. But once I get an idea, I actively pursue it. For my March Bridal Madness winner, the fleur de lis immediately came to mind. I worked to incorporate it into a piece of jewelry because of its appealing softness to the eye, romance, and meaning.

My Winning March Bridal Madness Design

To create this ring, we first fabricated the head. I used the tip of the fleur de lis petals as the prongs. Then I decided the ring should include French Pave diamonds on its sides to enhance the French fleur de lis symbol. I made the gallery in a classic yet modern style. It took ten attempts to finally reach the final version: settling for “close enough” was not an option. The design allowed everything to fall right into place. It has class, elegance, and harmony. The ring does not overpower the diamond nor does the stone obscure the ring’s intricate design. For these reasons, I chose this piece to enter in the March Bridal Madness contest.

Communicating my ideas, first onto paper and then verbally, remains one of the most challenging aspects of my job. I can clearly imagine what I’d like to accomplish in my mind, so I’m the only one visualizing the concept. This leads to three or four design versions before the piece comes properly to life. Despite the challenge, I love this part of the process, seeing the jewelry emerge exactly how I envisioned it.

Years ago, Stuller sent us a catalog in the mail. I don’t remember exactly when our partnership began, but it undoubtedly changed the way we buy findings. Also, one of the main reasons we do business with Stuller is their reliability and next day shipping. We receive high quality in every product from Stuller.

March Bridal Madness Carlos Arizmendi

Our design space overlooking Lake Michigan

In my own time, I love to swim. I would swim every single day if I could. I like to watch the Chicago Blackhawks, soccer, and movies. Here’s a bit of business advice I have to offer: I recommend anyone who hasn’t ventured into CAD design to make the change. Our business today is not the same as it was ten years ago. We must continually update to keep up with the times and our ever-changing industry.

Reach us at (708) 679-0981 or simply visit our website to see all our store has to offer!


Check out the 2016 March Bridal Madness winner here, or see all the ravishing contest entries from years past on our Facebook. Which design is your favorite?




Meet Julie DeVoe – Fix My Bench Contest Winner

 

Unbeknownst to me, Cliff submitted the video above to Stuller’s Fix My Bench contest. In all honesty, I am not sure how to spend the $1000 prize. All of my tools are 15 years old or older, so I am basking in the knowledge that the world is my oyster. Just thinkin’!

My 5 favorite tools are as follows:

  1. Raytech Magnetic finisher, purchased from Blaine Lewis in 2002
  2. Gravermax set up, also purchased from Blaine at the same time
  3. Rotating burr holders from Stuller
  4. Small GRS ball holder with swing arm, purchased at Bridge event
  5. SR Fordham with quick release from Stuller

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Meet Julie DeVoe

As a child, my father had the most beautiful, organized, and functional tool bench in the universe. I would sit for hours watching him epoxy parts, build models, and repair household items. Watching his hands is something I remember most; his steady and sure workmanship fascinated me. At the same time, my mum was an artist. Her painted children’s furniture was featured in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog up until the time of her death in 1999. She and my sister were the jewelry addicts in our family – both very stylish, beautiful women. I found myself far more fascinated in how their jewelry was put together with no interest in wearing it.

So in short, cosmic convergence led me to a career in jewelry repair and design. My mother passed away and left me the means to reinvent myself artistically (not for an indefinite period but rather a nice comfortable kick start). At the same time, I was reacquainted with a high school friend who was in the wholesale/retail/commercial repair jewelry business. I also met the benchie that worked with him and was immediately smitten once I saw all his glorious tools. I enrolled in Kendall Art and Design’s adult jewelry fabrication classes to justify buying tools and absolutely loved it. Then, I attended the Blaine Lewis Bench program in Virginia Beach. Thus, a Bench Monkeyess was born.

Julie DeVoe Beautiful Woman onyx pendant

Dancing Woman

I did my favorite design early on. A customer-turned-close-friend was going through her second battle with cancer. She wanted a pendant that expressed how she was going to feel when she came out on the other side. I found a piece of onyx, showed it to her, and we both immediately said, “Dancing Woman.” The pendant articulates the back and top and is balanced such that when my friend walks, the woman rocks slightly back and forth, as in a dance. Her hair was frazzled from the chemo, and that is why the pendant’s hair is spikey. Her birthday is in June, so the face is Moonstone. Looking at it now, I see the crudeness of the piece, illustrating how far I have come in 15 years.

I am a 60-year-old former massage therapist and single mom of three. I am now married to Cliff – the Lowell Dance Master and General Perpetuator of Mayhem. We have two grandchildren. Hunter is 7 and a born salesman and jewelry lover. At four years old, he stood in the middle of our showroom, dramatically swept his arm across his body and asked a group of women if they would like to see some “beeeeeutiful” jewelry. Our 2nd grandson is named after Cliff, and we call him Nugget. No sign of jewelry attachment yet, however, his mom, my daughter Amy, is in the geological engineering program at the local university. So it’s probably only a matter of time.

Julie Devoe Benchwork

When Stuller was fine-tuning its Internet site back in 2002, I was a random frequent flyer, as we were new. I ordered pieces as well as tools just to see what they were, how they were assembled and how I could modify them. Cliff was getting really nervous about the expenditures when I received a call saying I had won $500 due to being chosen at random from Internet purchases. And so began our relationship with Stuller.

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Julie DeVoe, “Might as well jump!”

These days, I could not function without Stuller. The difference between st321 and st322 is forever etched in my brain. Stuller’s quality is unsurpassed; I have tried the others and always come back. They have accepted overdue returns, listened to me ramble about my kids and even cried a bit with me when I called after Hurricane Katrina to see if everyone was okay. The Bridge event just furthered my connection with Stuller. We will never be a big player with you, but we are loyal. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being that silent support system that enabled me to push forward into an area that was totally foreign to me. And of course, thanks for naming Cliff and I the winners of the Fix My Bench contest and the $1000 prize. How freaking cool is that???

Check out Cliff Yankovich’s blog post here, along with his excitement below after he learned about winning the contest!




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Meet Meghan Proctor – Battle of the Benches® Contestant

Meghan Proctor has been in the jewelry industry for nearly 28 years, yet she’s only 35. A second-generation jeweler, she grew up in the family store working in sales and perfecting her skills on the bench. “I try to draw inspiration from literally anything I come across, like toys for example. I’ve made several pieces involving video games, toys, and different organic materials. I strive to design with no limitations, and so far, I love it!” Meghan says. Such creativity has led to her current position, a Bench Jeweler and Custom Designer at Mucklow’s Fine Jewelry in Peachtree City, Georgia.

“I started learning the tricks of the trade from my father. I watched and absorbed all I could as he cut waxes, cast and finished custom pieces.” Meghan’s father is Navajo and learned his craft on the reservation. So growing up around jewelry provided the opportunity to begin her career creating jewelry the Navajo way. After opening his store, she was there nearly every day after school. “Once I learned customization, I moved to the bench, to learn basic repairs. I worked my way through stone setting, fabrication, completing a custom job from start to finish and finally CAD design.”

Meghan admits to the difficulty of narrowing down her specialties. “Working for my father, I had to stretch my abilities to work in many areas. This allowed me to master all aspects of the job,” she remembers. “If I must narrow it down, my forté involves thinking outside the box, whether it’s a different way to repair something or a creative approach to custom design.” However, her favorite part of the job is a no-brainer. Admiring a finished piece of jewelry remains most enjoyable. Some repairs can be just as fulfilling. They give her the opportunity to use her hands and bring it all together.

Custom design remains central to Meghan becoming a monumental part of the industry. “It’s amazing, to begin with an idea, develop it, and create something precious that no one else has. With so many different personalities in the world, I find it exciting and rewarding to individualize a piece of jewelry. Each design captures an aspect of its owner,” she reflects.

Ray Stevenson and his wife, wearing Meghan Proctor’s custom design on the red carpet

Her most treasured memories come from sitting with her father, watching and learning from him. He worked several jobs to support the family, so this opened the opportunity to spend precious time bonding over jewelry making. Another high point of her career was seeing one of her pieces on the red carpet. “The actor Ray Stevenson visited the store I worked for at the time and everywhere he films, he has something made for his wife. I adored working with him and seeing the result on the red carpet was thrilling,” she gushes.

Outside of work, her interests and hobbies include musical theater, where she helps build sets, working hands-on to express her ingenuity. She also enjoys comic book collecting, music and amassing vinyl records. “I’m highly ambitious and driven and hope to make a positive impact in the industry. I’m extremely excited to be a part of this Battle of the Benches competition. I have no awards or recognitions YET, but I plan to change that very soon!”

Just a glimpse of Meghan Proctor’s custom work


The Battle of the Benches® competition ramps up in only a few days. Catch up on all of the contestants here. Who do you think will take home the gold?




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Meet Jonathan Smiddy – The Returning Competitor

Jonathan Smiddy Battle of the Benches HeadshotThis year’s Battle of the Benches® competition is right around the corner, kicking off March 24th. Among the contestants is Jonathan Smiddy, a seasoned jewelsmith with over twenty-two years of experience under his belt. A bench jeweler at Robson’s Diamond Jewelers in Baytown, Texas, he spends his days repairing precious pieces and helping clients to create beautiful jewelry.

As a graduate of the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, Jonathan Smiddy knew he wanted to be a bench jeweler right out of high school after taking interest in Indian handy crafts. “I’m a real classic kind of person. I like Art Noveau. I like Art Deco,” he explains. “So in most of my stuff, I sample a lot of those lines and a lot of French curves.” Jonathan’s passion entails building new and exciting pieces while his specialty lies in creating unique designs that end as exquisite works of art.

After participating in last year’s competition, Jonathan knows the ropes. He has a pretty good idea of what’s in store, having been there and done that. Does this give him a leg up on the competition? We’ll see! We surely expect Jonathon to bring his calm and collected demeanor along with his talent and creativity. The greatest challenge he faces in his day-to-day is meeting impossible deadlines. “Yet, somehow it always happens,” he says. And according to Jonathan, he works best under pressure. This is quite a fitting strength for the competition.

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Jonathan’s pendant from Battle of the Benches 2016

When it came down to scoping out last year’s competition, Jonathan had this to say: “It’s been really interesting, especially with the other jewelers. There’s lots of really good talent on the panel.” His only real concern, however, was aiming to set all of his stones in time.

In day one of the competition, Jonathan created a CAD design and model of a cocktail ring inspired by a customer profile. Day two brought about the Parts & Pieces Challenge where participants were given a box of “stuff” and tasked with creating a unique piece of jewelry. Jonathan created a sleek, modern pendant.

On the third and final day of the event, attendees visited any additional classes they might have missed. They walked the demo floor and even met with our technical folks. The final challenge also took place. This time, the task was to prep, polish, assemble, and set the now casted CAD design from the first day’s competition. Jonathan took the prize in this event with an amazing three stone cocktail ring featuring a blue center and pink accents.

When he’s not busy at the store, he enjoys visiting museums, camping, spending time with family and attending church. His favorite part of being a jeweler so far is having the opportunity to create wedding bands for himself and his wife.

Here’s a shot of Jonathan hard at work in last year’s competition, along with a few select pieces of his work-

Jonathan Smiddy Battle of the Benches Pendant Jonathan Smiddy Battle of the Benches Pendant Jonathan Smiddy Battle of the Benches Focus

“The leftmost image is a 9 carat Tanzanite pendant with .5 carats of side diamonds. It turned out absolutely stunningly and the story behind it is even better!” Jonathan reports. “I also really loved building the piece centered above. It’s a competition piece I designed featuring lapis, diamond, tsavorite garnet, and synthetic padparadscha accents.” 


Check out Jyothi Forman and David Adamson, two of Jonathan Smiddy’s competitors in this year’s Battle of the Benches® competition.




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Meet Jyothi Forman – Battle of the Benches® Contestant

Jyothi Forman HeadshotJyothi Forman is a jeweler at Georgies Fine Jewellery in Narooma, New South Wales, Australia. She specializes in hand fabricating custom jewelry. Jyothi, a blossoming 24 years old, grew up in a small regional town called Tanja and went to school in Bega, New South Wales. Outside of work, she loves exploring the outdoors. Mountain biking, playing soccer, painting, and hanging out with her sweet pup, Baxter, are a few of her favorite activities.

“I’ve always been a very practical person and love working in a hands-on manner. In school, I loved ceramics, woodwork, metalwork, and visual arts. When I stumbled upon the jewelry trade, I couldn’t believe my luck! It combines everything I enjoy: practicality, creativity, and an ongoing challenge,” Jyothi explains. “I knew I loved making jewelry since my first day on the bench.”

Throughout her apprenticeship, she’s had many amazing opportunities arise. Jyothi has competed in many competitions and represented Australia in the International WorldSkills Competition in Brazil. This honor gave her an unforgettable experience. “Placing second in the world and earning a silver medal was quite a remarkable feat!” she says. “I couldn’t have done it without my supportive, generous boss, Georgie Staley.”

Jyothi Forman silver medal worldskills international competition representing Australia

Jyothi Forman’s silver medal standing in the Worldskills International Competition

Custom design remains central to Jyothi. It enables her customers to have unique pieces of jewelry that express who they are. “Custom jewelry tells the owner’s story while also reflecting the designer’s gifts. The highly involved process is very rewarding. The customer is delighted with their jewelry because they have contributed to the design,” she says.

For Jyothi, the most challenging jobs are the large, intricate handmade pieces. However, these are also her favorite! “I love a challenge. I love the problem solving and attention to detail, then seeing everything come together at the end into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Every day as a jeweler is different. From resurrecting old family heirlooms to handcrafting brand new ones for future generations. Each day brings about a new challenge, all equally rewarding.”

Jyothi Forman custom engagement ring parti sapphire diamonds and platinum with green goldAt the beginning of March 2017, Jyothi married her partner, Mitchell. They’ve been together since high school. He is a watchmaker and both work at Georgies Fine Jewellery. “I’ll forever treasure when he proposed to me with all the materials necessary to make my very own engagement ring: Parti sapphire, diamonds, and raw metal,” she recounts. “From there, I handcrafted my ring from platinum and small accents of green gold. The center stone is a yellow-green Australian Parti Sapphire and side stones are diamonds.” Her beautiful ring is pictured here.

Jyothi and her husband Mitchell have never been to America and are tremendously excited to come over for the competition!

Here are just a few of her awards and recognitions, along with her most prized custom designs-

 

  • Nationwide Jewellers Apprentice of the Year – 2013 & 2014
  • Melbourne Polytechnic Best 2nd year Apprentice Jeweler – 2013
  • Melbourne Polytechnic Best 3rd year Apprentice Jeweler – 2014
  • Melbourne Polytechnics Outstanding Apprentice/Trainee of the Year – 2015
  • Melbourne Polytechnic Outstanding Student of the Year – 2015
  • Worldskills Australia regional competition, Melbourne – 2013 • Gold
  • Worldskills Australia national competition – 2014 • Gold
  • Worldskills Oceania competition – 2015 • Gold
  • Worldskills International Competition – 2015 • Silver
  • Announced in Triple J’s 25 under 25 2015

Jyothi Forman custom design ring with sapphires, diamonds, and gold

This ring was custom designed at Georgies Fine Jewellery and handmade by Jyothi. It features sapphires and diamonds in a beautiful, unique gold ring.

Jyothi Forman custom ring design white yellow gold

“This one was very fun to create, as I had to make the white gold appear woven through the yellow gold band,” Jyothi explains.

 


We’re gearing up for our annual Battle of the Benches® competition, which begins March 24. Meet David Adamson, the defending champ here. 




The Reigning March Bridal Madness Champion

Are you excited about this year’s March Bridal Madness contest? The rules of the game are simple:

  1. “Like” Stuller on Facebook.
  2. Submit an image of your custom designed engagement ring or wedding band.
  3. The picture with the most fan votes moves on to final judging.

The stakes are high! The winner receives a Stuller account credit valued at $1,000, and we feature their design on all of Stuller’s social venues. We are accepting submissions now until March 15 for your chance to win!

Find the official contest rules here


Meet John Patrick: The Reigning March Bridal Madness Champion

 

March Bridal Madness John Patrick Wife Phyllis

John and his beautiful wife, Phyllis

My jewelry career began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as an apprentice jeweler at Wilson’s catalog showroom. My skills improved and I started contracting with other retail jewelry stores. Eventually, I became self-employed. In 1984, my wife, Phyllis, and I opened our own store, Patrick’s Fine Jewelry, in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. After operating in the same location for thirty-two years, we built a new, larger, freestanding store in Saint Francisville in October 2013.

We are a family-owned and operated business. I’m the jeweler and designer while Phyllis is the bookkeeper who assists in sales. My oldest son Johnny oversees marketing and sales. We have five employees who are either relatives or longtime friends of the family. My favorite part of the job is the opportunity to meet with a customer and get a feel for his/her personality. I get to gauge their likes and dislikes and incorporate those views into a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry. This leads to complete customer satisfaction.

My specialties include custom designs, French pavé settings, and hand engraving. I’ve become adept at making jewelry that makes her happy and fits his budget. Custom design plays a very important role in our business by setting us apart from other jewelry stores in the area. Customers come into my store and choose a ring custom designed to their tastes and unique. Keeping up with our work volume presents our greatest challege. I am one of the few stores in my area that performs in-house repairs and custom design jewelry.

Looking back, the day we opened our new free-standing store in October 2013 stands out as one of my favorite memories. It is triple the size of my previous rental spot of 30+ years and was designed to accommodate our customers’ needs and my workload. Another highpoint in my career is when my oldest son Johnny decided to come into the jewelry business full time with his mom and myself. He assists in selecting and buying new jewelry designs, excels in sales and customer relations and takes care of all advertising and marketing decisions. His use of social media has taken our store to new heights.

Last year’s March Bridal Madness winning piece
2016 March Bridal Madness Winning Engagement Ring

I am a strong family man and feel God has blessed me beyond all expectations. Phyllis and I have built our jewelry business from a small mom and pop store to a nationally recognized business. We’ve raised two fine sons, the oldest working with me daily. Of course, the door is always open for our younger son to join the family business.

I am very close to my family; I talk to my mother daily and run our family cattle ranch in Woodville, Mississippi. The cattle business helps to keep balance in my life. Each Thursday, I perform ranching duties so I can let out some of the frustration that builds sitting behind a jeweler’s bench. I enjoy staying busy and like the physical aspect that ranching brings into my day. It helps me to stay competitive as I raise registered Angus cattle and bulls for breeding. I was also a volunteer coach for over ten years. It’s so rewarding to see the boys I coached come into my store as young men to make purchases for their wives-to-be. I’m honored to be a part of this special time in their lives and know that I made a positive impact!

I have always chuckled, “God has a sense of humor by placing a jeweler inside of a big, rough, red-neck man like me.”

March Bridal Madness Winner John Patrick's Fine Jewelry


Have you entered into the March Bridal Madness competition yet? What are you waiting for? Find more details about last year’s March Bridal Madness competition here!