May 18, 2014, marked two very special events: the 14th annual Saul Bell Design Award celebration dinner and the opening night dinner of the 28th annual Santa Fe Symposium®. What made the evening truly extraordinary was combining the two events into one, in what Alan Bell, President of Rio Grande, described as a “mashup.”
“What we have here tonight is the beginning of a beautiful mashup,” Alan shared, “creating an opportunity for people with a passion for the technology of jewelry making to rub shoulders with people with a passion for jewelry design.” In addition to the monetary reward, beginning this year, winners of the Saul Bell Design Award also received a scholarship to attend the Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology.
The ballroom, which held 150 Santa Fe Symposium attendees during Sunday’s presentations, swelled to 250 for the Saul Bell Design Award celebration and awards presentation dinner. Winners and finalists, their friends and family, as well as members of the press and competition judges were in attendance. While images of all the finalists’ pieces were projected on the large screen, the actual winning pieces were on display in the ballroom and the crowd couldn’t get enough of the beautiful designs.
After dinner, as dessert was served, Alan opened the awards presentation. He shared that the seeds of the design competition were planted shortly after Saul Bell’s passing at the ripe old age of 96 in 1996. “Our family began talking about using a design competition to memorialize his love of our craft and his gift for sharing his incredible knowledge with others. The idea finally took root with our inaugural design competition in 2001.”
Following his opening comments, the crowd watched an amazing video that opened with a short piece describing the creation of the trophies given to the winners. It then launched into introductions and a Q&A with the winners, including the Emerging Jewelry Artists (jewelry makers 18 years old and younger). The video provided a perfect blend of humor, design motivation, and creative insight. And then, of course, it was time for the awards. Check out the winning pieces at saulbellaward.com
The Saul Bell Design Award, with its emphasis on both design and workmanship, helps stretch the boundaries and raise awareness, not just within the jewelry making and selling community, but with the consuming public as well. The Santa Fe Symposium, with its emphasis on casting, manufacturing, shop floor methods and business improvement, helps further research and exploration of the processes and materials jewelry makers depend on. Combining the symposium’s leading manufacturers and technologists with the competition’s cutting edge designers pushes the envelope for both parties—driving creativity, innovation, and industry potential.
Before the dinner some attendees were concerned about whether these two groups would fuse. As the two groups were introduced, they began to mingle and make connections, sharing revelations and insights from “across the divide.” Dozens of new contacts, acquaintances and even friendships were cast. After the dinner, there was no question—this was indeed a beautiful mashup!