1. What do you feel distinguishes Editor’s Choice from other industry awards?
Editor’s Choice is open to any jeweller who exhibits at IJL. That’s a huge gamut of jewellers from a wide variety of countries. And it’s why previous winners have ranged from a 20 year old self-taught jeweller who never went to university (Clarice Price-Thomas) to a jeweller who has been in the business for 40 years, whose clients include Joan Collins and whose designs were worn by Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie Shakespeare in Love (Malcolm Morris).
2. You have been involved in the project since it was launched, how do you feel it has evolved and grown?
Some of the entries we’ve sifted our way through over the years have been pretty offbeat and thought provoking. And sometimes they’ve proved to be winners. For example, Abigail Stradling’s Time ring, an enormous ball of resin filled with oil, sand and wood that swirl around as the wearer moves.
The most rewarding part of being judge of Editor’s Choice has been seeng previous winners go on to scoop other prizes and gain further industry recognition. (Imogen Belfield is one jeweller who has certainly made a habit of doing this.) There is of course a personal satisfaction of having spotted talent early. (Jessica de Lotz knows I have been following her success and have developed a habit of photographing and then tweeting cuttings mentioning her that I spot in Grazia magazine – typically while my nails are drying at the manicurist!)
But it is also hugely gratifying to know that Editor’s Choice has helped to propel, and sometimes fast track, gifted and ambitious jewellers to secure wider recognition and grow their businesses. Against a backdrop of hefty university fees and a fiercely competitive jewellery and luxury brand environment, I believe that winning a competition is extremely valuable – it holds the potential to open doors, attract new customers and potential customers and enhance a brand’s credibility in the marketplace.
3. Which is your favourite category and why?
In 2015 we’ve introduced a new category called In Stile Italiano which I think is very appropriate. The Italian jewellery industry took a strong hit during the recent global recession, but the fact remains that the Italians are masters of style and they have a long heritage of making spectacular jewellery, often in small ateliers and in family owned businesses. We have two winners in this category this year and I can imagine both pieces we’ve chosen perfectly accessorising a glamorous woman walking down the street in Missoni or Armani.
4. Have you got one all-time favourite and why?
I love the drama and intricacy of Fei Liu’s winning piece this year, a seriously grown-up piece of jewellery. It is a bespoke piece for one of Fei’s private clients.
5. What words of advice would you give to future entrants?
Within each category, the overarching qualities we continue to look for are originality and a fresh contemporary feel that are likely to attract buyers at IJL.