Last updateTue, 17 Apr 2018 11pm

Torch Awards winners announced

SJTA showcases winning entries from the first annual national design competition for independent jewelers

(ATLANTA) - Launched by the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association (SJTA) to showcase and recognize the design talents of bench jewelers/designers across the country, the first annual Torch Awards competition was held during the March 2011 Atlanta Jewelry Show.  The new competition invited all state jewelers associations to submit winners of their own individual 2010 design contests to compete nationally during the March show where attending buyers voted on the winning designs.

The winners and their designs include:

People’s Choice Award

Johnny Johnson, Edward Johns Jewelers, Marietta, GA

Johnny’s two-finger ring is crafted from sterling silver and 14kt yellow gold, rutilated quartz and diamonds.


First Place

Richard Melancon, Melancon Jewelers, Abbeville, LA.

Richard’s free-form cross is made to be worn four unique ways and is crafted from white and yellow diamonds.


Second Place

Jennifer Whitekiller, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK.

Jennifer’s earrings are crafted from 18kt white gold and showcase diamonds, pink sapphires and Tahitian pearls.


Third Place

Keith Hipp, Ellis Jewelers, Lexington, NC.

Keith’s lady’s ring is crafted from 14kt white gold, tanzanite and diamonds.


“Many of the state and regional jewelry associations host design competitions to recognize the amazing talents and skills of their members - often showcasing the winning designs at state conventions.  We wanted to find a way to share these beautiful designs with an even broader industry audience. The Atlanta Jewelry Show venue truly sets the stage for the exposure a national competition can offer to the winners, as well as the state associations,” explains Carol Young, executive director of the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association, producers/managers of the Atlanta Jewelry Show.  “The continued success and business growth of the independent jeweler, as well as state and regional associations, are at the heart of SJTA’s mission. I think this award, and the excitement and interest it will generate, offers countless benefits to everyone involved”

All state associations were invited to participate in the 2011 Torch Awards competition. To be eligible, each entrant had to be a current member of the respective state’s chapter, an employee of a chapter member, or a student enrolled at a state college or university and sponsored by a chapter’s retail member. All entries were on display during the March 2011 Atlanta Jewelry Show and attending buyers were asked to vote on the winners based on skill in execution of design, technical merit of design, and wearability. Each entrant received rights-free, professional photography of their submitted piece that they are now able to use in their own promotional efforts.

For information on the 2012 Torch Awards, its application process and submission deadlines, state association representatives can contact Carol Young at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Libby Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 800-241-0399.