What an amazing pool of candidates! Each year the competition gets tougher. The quality of the jewelry and the business plans keeps getting better and better. That also means it keeps getting tougher to get into the finalist round…
It is funny the trends we see each year when judging. It seems that there is always something we notice about the group of candidates as a whole. The first year we had a lot of amazing wire workers. The next year in 2007 the field was full of MBAs and accountants leaving the corporate world to pursue jewelry design careers. In 2008 we had an inordinate number of glass artisans and lampworkers. This year the defining trends are an abundance of art school graduates and metal forging techniques. These trends have no …bearing on the judging process or even the results but it seems odd that we can identify such strong clusters in each competition.
It is impressive that we see such variety and creativity amongst contestants. Entrants use every jewelry design and fabrication technique imaginable. And despite thousands of years in jewelry history there are always designers that surprise me with jewelry that is completely unlike anything I have every seen before in the industry. That is quite a feat in jewelry!
I am also always amazed at the unique business models and market niches that entrepreneurs identify. My traditional MBA brain could not possibly conceive some of the off-the-wall angles we see in these business plans. Some are truly brilliant – hats off to all of you! Talented designers are what keep this industry moving forward so I salute you and thank you for continuing to push the envelope.
Tomorrow I will be posting another designer profile and review from a past grant competition finalist. Check back!