The creative team at Spectrum Art & Jewelry (Wilmington, NC) has done it again. In the first quarter of 2013 they have been recognized with three national awards for outstanding original jewelry design, including one from the Palladium Alliance International and two MJSA Vision Awards. These bring Spectrum’s jewelry team tally to a total of eleven career national awards to date.
In recent years Spectrum’s owner, Star Sosa, has been aggressively developing and expanding the capabilities of her jewelry studio at Spectrum, attracting new talent that has really put her workshop on the map as a source for outstanding and innovative jewelry. Susan Drake, a recipient of multiple awards over the years, joined the team almost two years ago as a designer, and since then has netted the Spectrum studio six prestigious design awards.
First of the 2013 batch of trophies is placement in the top finalists of the “Biggest Jewelry Design Contest Ever”, sponsored by the Palladium Alliance International. The purpose of this competition was to attract America’s top designers to create unique jewelry using palladium, with the focus of establishing palladium as a mainstream metal for today’s jewelry. Eighty-eight finalists were selected from a pool of over 300 outstanding entries submitted by top designers. In the coming year they will be featured in national marketing campaigns, celebrity and red-carpet events, trade show displays and more.
Drake’s winning design is a sculptural ring set with an icy blue-green tourmaline and a channel of diamonds. The ring will tour with the Palladium Alliance until next year, but Drake is creating variations on the design that are on display at the gallery.
Then in February two more of Drake’s designs were recognized with Vision Awards from the MJSA. Their Glacial ring tied for first place in the Palladium Distinction Category. It features a 15 carat trillion-cut aquamarine accented with a river of sapphires, tsavorite garnets and diamonds. The Glacial was inspired by wind-swept sea ice and translucent blue ice caves.
In addition, Drake’s Spanish Dancer ring received a Platinum Distinction 2nd Place Award from the same organization. This ring features a vivid fuchsia-colored sapphire and dozens of tiny diamonds in a fluid and flowing design evocative of a flamenco dancer’s ruffled costume.
In the sixteen years that Spectrum has been in operation, they have hand-crafted literally hundreds of one-of-a-kind designs for their clients. Spectrum’s unique niche is their willingness to orchestrate “restyling” of existing jewelry, utilizing valuable diamonds, gemstones and precious metals that their clients have collected over the years, reinventing them into exciting new pieces that become modern heirlooms.
Participation in fine jewelry design competitions has the added benefit of the development of dozens of new creative design prototypes, opening the flood gates to fresh twists and interpretations of the genre and materials. These expanded concepts fuel the creative process and overflow into each customer’s design project. Last year’s award-winning designs have already spun off several variations.
Not many independent jewelry stores have the wherewithal or commitment to creativity that supports participation in these competitions. They require tremendous outlay of costly materials and labor and ultimately take production time away from other, more potentially lucrative projects. But at the same time, Sosa’s commitment to excellence and to artistic development is one thing that sets her business apart. “My skill is in team building and attracting excellent people to work with” says Sosa. “When Susan approached me for employment, I invented a position for her, recognizing the artistry she would bring to our studio.” As many small businesses were struggling to survive the recent economic turmoil, Sosa was taking a risk that a focus on outstanding design, unique materials and exceptional craftsmanship would pay off. Clearly it has.
Spectrum Art & Jewelry is an independent jewelry studio operating in Wilmington, NC.