Call for Entries Opens for 20th Annual Saul Bell Design Award Competition

2019 Saul Bell Awards Best of Show Winner, Debbie Sheezel

(PRESS RELEASE – Courtesy of Rio Grande Gems and Findings) JULY 2019 — Rio Grande announces its call for entries for the 2020 Saul Bell Design Award competition. This world-renowned competition, launched by Rio Grande in 2001, honors Saul Bell, founder of Rio Grande and a jeweler, teacher and friend whose love of jewelry making and respect for jewelry makers knew no bounds. For its 20th anniversary, this premier event for jewelry designers renews the challenge for jewelers and metalsmiths to push their creativity in new and exciting directions, to seize their moments to forge new pathways with their artistry.

“My father would have had so much admiration for every metalsmith who has ever entered this competition,” says Molly Bell, Rio Grande Executive Vice President and daughter of Saul Bell. “The spirit of the competition embodies not only his passion for making jewelry and his appreciation for the creativity and technical challenges of the work these artists do but also his respect for those striving to learn more, pushing past obstacles, and thriving in doing what they love. He was so generous with his knowledge and always had time for any bench or technical question.”

One of the most prestigious design events within the jewelry industry, the Saul Bell Design Award competition is unique for its intensive judging process. Two panels, comprising a combined total of 10 jewelers and industry leaders who are masters of their craft, assess and rank entries through two rounds of rigorous judging. In the initial round, five judges look for originality of design, proposed use of materials, and aesthetics to select finalists. In the final round, a second panel of five judges examines completed finalist pieces up close, in the hand, and on model, looking for successful incorporation of materials, wearability (except in the Hollowware category) and quality of workmanship.

Sophia Hu, whose entry, “Origami—Window with a View Collection,” received the 2018 Saul Bell Award Best of Show distinction impressed judges yet again in 2019 with her incredible “Helices” collection to garner the 1st Place honors in the Collections category (Couture/Fine division). “I really appreciate the two rounds of judges in the competition,” she says, “they have the eyes and tastes to see deeper, to identify and appreciate all the design efforts I put into each design in this collection.”

The 2020 competition features seven categories: Gold/Platinum, Silver/Argentium® Silver, Hollowware/Art Objects, Alternative Metals/Materials, Jewelry Collections, and two categories of Emerging Jewelry Artist that encompass two age ranges: 18 years old and younger (high school age) and 22 years old and younger (college age); age is determined as of October 25, 2019. Enameled pieces should be submitted into the above categories, as appropriate.

The Jewelry Collection category invites designers to create a cohesive set of wearable pieces (such as a coordinated necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings) representing either a line of luxury jewelry (formerly Couture/Fine) or a line of trend-setting jewelry (formerly Fashion/Bridge).

Entrants enjoy discounted early-bird fees of $75 per entry for work submitted through September 16, or may choose the regular $125 fee for work submitted prior to the final deadline. The fee for each Emerging Jewelry Artist submission is $25.

Final submission deadline for all entries is October 25, 2019. Finalist pieces are due by January 24, 2020. The entry form and detailed information about the competition, including submission guidelines and information about each of the categories, are available at



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