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Applications Now Available for the Jose Hess Design Awards Jewelry Design Competition April 26, 2022 (0 comments)


Hermitage, PA--Applications are now available to enter the inaugural Jose Hess Design Awards jewelry design competition sponsored by the American Jewelry Design Council. All jewelry professionals working in the U.S. are welcome to enter. One grand prize winner will receive $15,000 and at least six finalists will receive $1,000 each.

Applicants for the first AJDC Jose Hess Design Challenge will be asked to design and create an original piece of jewelry, based on the theme “Connection,” which will mirror the AJDC members’ themed project for 2023.  Successful applicants must have the ability to demonstrate a level of originality, design excellence, and technical skill that suggests they will be tomorrow’s leading American designer jewelers.

Digital submissions sketches, paintings and renderings are due June 1, and finalists’ finished pieces are due September 2.

The finalists’ winning Connection pieces will be exhibited at a gala premier event in Tucson on February 2, 2023, at the University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum.

The applicants’ sketches and final projects will be evaluated by a panel of AJDC members representing diverse backgrounds. They include Maggie Hess, Michael Good, Alan Revere, George Sawyer, Barbara Heinrich, Gregore Morin and Paul Klecka.

The design competition is created in memory of Jose Hess, a pioneer in promoting American jewelry designers, and a founding member of AJDC.

When Hess came onto the American jewelry scene in the early 1960s, most jewelry stores were still purchasing generic jewelry from manufacturers that were anonymous to the consumer. Retailers sold the jewelry under their store names, and design innovation was generally not highly valued or identified.

Hess successfully challenged that reality and insisted that his named jewelry designs be recognized and prized for their artistic merit. He helped change the way the jewelry industry thought. Once Hess was established with his own brand, he banded together with other designers who were developing branded collections to advocate for well-designed jewelry, and a subset of that group eventually became the AJDC.

The idea of design-driven jewelry spread throughout the jewelry industry during the 1980s and 1990s – and altered it forever. From large manufacturers to small, individual brands, American jewelry designers and their aesthetic contributions are now recognized and lauded. Designers’ stories animate many collections, and their journeys and creative inspirations often drive sales.

To learn more and enter the competition, visit

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