Scottsdale, AZ—Hector Hassey, Tom Rucker, and Erica Sanchez-Hawkins were honored Tuesday night as the winners of the Centurion 2015 Emerging Designer Competition. The three designers were introduced to attendees of the Centurion Scottsdale show at a special ceremony during the event’s opening dinner. 2015 marks the seventh year of the competition, which is sponsored by Stuller.
Hector Hassey was born in Mexico City and raised in Greenwich, CT, in a family that frequently traveled the world. With his multicultural background and having been immersed in luxury from a young age, Hassey’s career was inspired by the art of curation. By age 24, he had created his first exhibit, identifying the finest specimens of gems, pearls, and diamonds in the jewelry he gathered as a private jeweler and buyer for Mexico’s first families. Traveling to jewelry fairs in Vicenza, Italy; Basel, Switzerland; and Hong Kong helped him understand and appreciate the expertise in high-end watches and timepieces that his select buyers demanded.
The next step in his career was curating pieces for exhibitions, selecting the finest and most original jewelry designs on behalf of his longstanding clients. Finally, as he began creating bespoke jewelry pieces, he calibrated and fine-tuned his understanding of their hopes and desires.
Hassey earned a graduate diamonds degree at The Gemological Institute of America in New York City in 1997. Since 2004, he has custom-created jewelry pieces using precious metals, diamonds, precious and semi-precious gemstones, and pearls into one-of-a-kind works made expressly for each client. His signature look incorporates fresh color combinations, colorful stones and metals in studs and encrusted buttons of diamonds juxtaposed against pearls, precious stones, and metals. The House of Hector Hassey celebrated its 20th year in 2014.
Designer Hector Hassey wears one of his own creations.
Inspired by nature’s forms, Hassey puts a fresh twist on luxury jewelry art. His pieces have been featured in the New York Times’ T fashion magazine, which compared his pearl works to great Dutch painters like Vermeer in how they sparkle, capture light, and make an elegant statement of uniqueness.
In the designer’s own words, “Spiked, studded, and over-scaled. Reinvented and revolutionized. I want to redefine luxury with new applications, new methods, new mixes, for a true freshness rarely seen today.”
By Hector Hassey: Octopus ring, left, in 18k white and rose gold and diamond pave, accented with diamond suction cups and Tahitian pearl. MSRP $8,800. Right, "Libra" cufflinks from Hassey's Constellation collection are 18k rose gold with hand-carved black agate cabochon, inlaid with diamonds. MSRP $7,750.
Master goldsmith Tom Rucker is an award-winning jeweler and teacher, internationally renowned for his precision craftsmanship, superlative designs, and pioneering use of the laser welder to make bespoke items in gold, platinum, and precious stones.
Rucker was born in 1970 in Munich, Germany, the fourth generation of a well-established goldsmith family. Rucker began with an apprenticeship at the School of Jewellery at Munich’s Luisenschule, first graduating as a goldsmith in 1991, and then graduating as a master goldsmith in 1995. He pioneered the use of laser spot welding technology in the jewelry industry in 1995, and creates unique intricate structures to international acclaim.
Taking inspiration from the concept of Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Domes, Rucker has developed an intricate laser-welding technique called ‘GEO.2,’ which combines this unique structure with his high-level goldsmith skills to create one-off pieces for an international clientele. Rucker works mainly in platinum and diamonds, and is globally recognized as being one of the most influential platinum jewelry designers of his time. He also works with pearls, and was honored by the Japanese government for platinum jewelry designs with Akoya pearls.
In 1997, Rucker set up the now well-known creative laser-welding course at Birmingham City University, having pioneered the technique in the United Kingdom.
Tom Rucker with his laser welder.
Rucker has received many awards, including three Goldsmiths' Craftsmanship and Design Awards, the prestigious German Benvenuto Cellini Gold Medal for the highest standard of excellence in jewelry design and manufacturing, the Lonmin Design Innovation Award three times, the Prix Arctica of the University of Lapland and many recognitions from the Tokyo International Pearl Design Contest. He also received honors in the UK Jewellery Awards, and the Platinum Guild International Trend Awards, as well as special honours from the Japanese and South African Governments, and many more.
Centurion Scottsdale 2015 is his first-ever exhibition in the United States.
Left: Geo Aegana ring by Tom Rucker is 18k gold and platinum, with 57 natural yellow vivid diamonds, 0.58 ctw. MSRP $12,980. Right, Geo Gemini earrings in 18k gold and platinum with mabe pearls and 18 VVS white diamonds, 0.18 ctw. MSRP $6,820.
Erica L. Sanchez-Hawkins, G.G., C.G.A., is a master goldsmith and the owner of Erica’s Fine Jewelry in Kenosha, WI. She has the distinction of being both an American Gem Society retailer and a budding wholesale jewelry designer.
With an emphasis on custom design and in-house repair and restoration, Sanchez-Hawkins is focused on the creation of fine jewelry as well as selling it, and her clients include both other jewelers and the public. She is a highly sought lecturer for organizations in her area, including the Kenosha Public Museum, Kenosha Art Association, the Lemon Street Gallery artist collective, and various civic organizations such as Rotary and Kiwanis.
Erica Sanchez-Hawkins models her own creations.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor in Dramatic Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, a GG from the Gemological Institute of America, and a Certified Gemologist Appraiser from the American Gem Society. She apprenticed to master goldsmith Arland Dobbs and has trained under master metalsmiths William Howard and Arthur Anton Skuratowicz.
Her private-label jewelry brand, which she is building into a wholesale line, is named “Exclusively Erica.”
By Erica Sanchez-Hawkins: 14K yellow gold bi-color tourmaline and diamond ring with elongated emerald cut blue and green tourmaline and one 13 by 6.5mm marquise shaped diamond, 2.10 ct (M/SI). Accented with 68 round full cut black diamonds,1.02 ctw. Shank corners have four round diamonds, 0.40 ctw. The ring features black antiquing around the halos of black diamonds, and also in the stars that are engraved on the sides of the gallery and asymmetrical European shank. It weighs approx. 24.6 grams.
In addition to the free exhibit space from Centurion, all three winners received a $500 merchandise credit from Stuller.
Left to right: Ashley Brown, executive director of marketing for Stuller; Tom Rucker, Hector Hassey, Hedda Schupak, editor of The Centurion Newsletter, and Erica Sanchez-Hawkins on stage during the event.