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See the Winners from Cultured Pearl Association of America Competition!

I am so pleased and proud that the Cultured Pearl Association of America chose Max’s as one of only 2 retailers in the country to showcase the winners, runners-up and some of the other entrants in this year’s competition.  There are some really fabulous pieces to see (and they are available for sale!) — and oh, the creativity!  Here is a description of the various categories as described by Jennifer Heebner for the CPAA.


For the past nine years, the Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA) has challenged the international design community to innovate with pearls—an ethically sourced and sustainable gem whose beauty and contributions to aquatic environments worldwide often aren’t celebrated enough. [Beautiful pearls only come from pristine waters.] That’s why the CPAA has partnered this year with Max’s to better promote these beautiful gems, better acquaint Minneapolis-area consumers with them, and give winning pieces a bigger platform for exposure.

The winning pieces and several honorable mentions from the 2018 CPAA International Pearl Design Competition are now on display and available for purchase through Dec. 7. From $600 pearl-and-paper-clip-motif earrings in gold with diamonds to a one-of-a-kind pair of South Sea and akoya pearl earrings with diamonds, these designs aren’t ones you’ll see anywhere else!

When designers create jewels for contests, they let their imaginations run wild in order to create masterful styles worthy of recognition and heirloom status. That goal has been accomplished and them some with this year’s winning pieces.

Drop by the store to see the following jewels and nab your own piece of lustrous design history.

The Categories:

President’s Trophy. This top prize is given to the piece deemed the most beautiful and original design concept that is well made, celebrates pearls, and leaves a lasting impression of pearls as must-have gems.

Winner: Rivoli earrings by Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Designs in Laguna Beach, Calif. Made in 14k, 18k, and 22k gold with golden South Sea pearls, cream-to-white akoya pearls, and diamonds.

Luster Award. This winning piece represents the evolution of a best-selling pearl jewelry design and bears a covetable and marketable concept with wide appeal for the marketplace.

Winner: Day-to-Night pendant necklace by Hisano Shepherd of Little h Jewelry in Los Angeles. Made in 14k gold with sliced and carved Tahitian pearls and black and colorless diamonds.

Orient Award. This winning piece appeals to an emerging pearl jewelry collector—someone who has never before thought of wearing pearls—through attractive design, innovative use of pearls, and an accessible price.

Winner: Orbit pendant by Timo Krapf of Timo Krapf Jewelry in Pittsford, N.Y. Made in platinum with a Tahitian pearl and cord and inspired by anticlastic raising.

Visionary Award for Classic Styles. This winning piece is attractive, creative, and salable, championing a fresh look for an iconic pearl style—strands, studs, bracelets, or a ring—to help change the dated perception of pearls in the market.

Winner: Time is Now Convertible Skull necklace by Jennifer Pusenkoff of Jennifer Pusenkoff Designs in Essexville, Mich. Piece features Tahitian pearls, a white South Sea pearl, a white freshwater pearl, a carved howlite skull, diamonds, and 18k gold components. The piece transforms for wear in different ways.

Wedding Day Pearls. This winning piece best captures what a contemporary bride might wear on her wedding day.

Winner: Rivoli earrings by Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Designs in Laguna Beach, Calif. Made in 14k, 18k, and 22k gold with golden South Sea pearls, cream-to-white akoya pearls, and diamonds.

Fashion Award. This winning piece features a creative compilation of materials fashioned into a youthful, high fashion, and original pearl jewelry design that looks as if it came straight from a Paris runway.

Winner: Sea Star earrings (pictured) by Mary Kay and Patrick Mohs of Patrick Mohs Jewelry in Wayzata, Minn. Made in 18k gold with golden South Sea pearls and diamond accents.

Spotlight Award—Akoya Pearls. This new category for 2018 focuses on designs where 75 percent of the piece features one type of pearl—the akoya pearl for this year. This winning piece should make viewers think about akoya pearls and all their colors, including natural-color baby blue akoyas in addition to classic white, in a way that is fresh and modern, challenges the standard of designs that feature it, and entices a non-pearl-lover to start collecting.

Winner: Flex cuff by Sean Gilson for Assael in New York City. Made in 18k gold by way of the anticlastic raising technique for flexibility and has akoya pearls.

Honorable mentions for the U.S. Division that will also be in store include:

  1. The Southern Magnolia ring by Ashleigh Branstetter

  2. Harmony mother-of-pearl ring by Gina Ferranti of Gigi Ferranti Jewelry

  3. Pink Ombre ring by Hisano Shepherd of Little h

  4. Opulence necklace by Hisano Shepherd of Little h

  5. Il Festino ring by Hisano Shepherd of Little h

  6. Spiral Collection earrings by Hisano Shepherd of Little h

  7. Dancing Butterflies ring by James Kyllonen of Kyllonen Luxury

  8. Lydia Grows necklace by Lika Behar of Lika Behar Designs

  9. Golden Waves ring by Mary Kay and Patrick Mohs of Patrick Mohs Design

  10. Paper Clip earrings by Mastoloni

  11. Crushed Ombré ring by Pamela Froman of Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry


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