By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
While Mary van der Aa only recently nabbed the Best Use of Platinum and Color Award in the 2023 AGTA Spectrum Awards for the “Garanatas: From Rough to Cut” two-piece necklace set with more than 77 carats of Garnets, the project was 10 years in the making.
Van der Aa is pals with Todd Wacks of Tucson Todd’s, who started collecting and cutting unique Garnets from all over the world more than a decade ago. The pair love the idea of showing the journey of gems from mine to market, so they teamed up to set Wacks’ gems into a van der Aa design.
“We wanted to educate and teach,” she explains about their creation—a 3-troy-pound platinum necklace fashioned into the silhouette of a rhombic dodecahedron. “When you put the two necklace pieces together, it shows the natural state of a garnet crystal.”
Beyond the magnitude of the project—it’s 3-troy-pounds of platinum!—there’s the beauty of it. The piece features a multitude of different cuts (from round to Princess to oval and more) in different carat weights all executed by Wacks, who van der Aa calls a “true Garnet collector.” It took the designer three years to develop the design.
“He cut each Garnet from rough, and on the back of each link we imprinted the Garnet type and where it came from,” she says. “He faceted each gem—like a Russian Demantoid Garnet with a large horsetail in it, and the largest one, an Italian Dora Maira Garnet—as he got them.”
The piece took 400 hours to bring to life and has a QR code.
“When you scan it with your phone, you’re taken to a website that details every stone in the piece along with original sketches,” she adds.
Wearing both sides together, which looks like the gem’s unearthed state, is accomplished with magnets, making for a not only aesthetically pleasing design but a technologically advanced one. The word Garnet, meanwhile, comes from the Latin word Granatus which means seedlike, thus, the name. In length, the necklace is 29 inches.
Wacks and van der Aa entered the piece into the competition jointly, and now share the prestigious award bestowed upon them by Platinum Guild International (PGI). Judge and PGI USA Jewelry Inc. Senior Vice President Kevin Reilly was “blown away by the gravitas of the piece. “I have never seen such beautiful colored gemstones, each cradled in their own platinum fortress! Truly a ‘statement piece’.”
This is proprietary content for AGTA and may not be reproduced.