By day we’re hard-working, customer-focused associates, doing our absolute best to serve and supply jewelry-makers around the world, but by night, many of us are jewelry-makers in our own right. Planning. Designing. Creating. When it comes to the most prestigious jewelry design contest going, The Saul Bell Design Award Competition, sadly, as associates, we can’t enter our own most innovative, imaginative and meticulous designs.

The solution? We got creative about that: one of our talented associates, Judy Jaramillo, came up with the idea to start an Associate Saul Bell Design Award Competition! She shared her excellent idea with a group of us and, starting last year, we began meeting to plan our in-house, associates-only jewelry design contest.

Our building is full of incredibly talented jewelers and metalsmiths, but would they actually enter? There was only one way to find out. We started promoting the contest last winter and let folks know that they’d be able to enter their work during the month of March, 2012. We opened the flood gates March 1st and within a couple of weeks we’d received — one entry.  We started to get a little nervous.

Like a lot of us though, entrants were working right up to the deadline and we finally ended up with 33 entries—all beautiful. Rio Grande Directors and Product Managers served as judges and went over the pieces with a keen eye to design, functionality and wearability.  Theirs was no easy task but, after the evaluations were completed, we had our winners. Our own small gala celebrated the winners and all the entrants with an awards presentation in our courtyard (including lemonade and cookies!).

Take a look at our associates’ outstanding 1st place pieces:

1st Place Alternative Materials – Shannon DeMoulin

1st Place Beads – Sessin Durgham

1st Place Enamel/Glass – Shelley Archuleta

1st Place Metal Clay® – MariaElena Baca

1st Place Gold/Platinum and Associates’ Choice Winner – Phillip Scott

Grand Prize Winner Silver/Argentium® – Sessin Durgham

Sessin Durgham, 2012 ASBDA Grand Prize Winner with Director Eddie Bell and a big trophy

Are you inspired? Check out Yvonne’s post from 2010, and think about entering a design competition yourself!