Over the weekend, Stuller welcomed more than 200 jewelers to the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop. The atmosphere was electric! The show floor buzzed with tradeshow-like energy. Live product demonstrations highlighted big brands like Asiga® 3D Printers, Orion™ Laser Welders, and Best Built Engravers, to name just a few. The back to back class schedule included basic diamond grading, social media photography, working with platinum, and many more.
The 3rd Annual Battle of the Benches® Competition Begins!
Meet the Contestants
Day 1: From CAD to Complete
To enter Battle of the Benches, participants had to submit a qualifying CAD design to catch our attention. Then, to begin the competition, each competitor brought their designs to life in real time. With a crowd of onlookers and distractions at every turn, our five challengers forged stunning masterpieces.
And the winner is . . . Craig Farley
After nearly thirty minutes of deliberation, the judging panel named Craig Farley's creation the first day's winner. His contemporary East-West design featured a dazzling oval-cut Swarovski Peridot center stone. The split shank design with beaded and diamond accents landed the top spot. This intricately crafted design was completely on-trend.
When the competition is live, anything can happen! After an intense first day, defending champion, Jyothi Forman fell sick and couldn't compete. Enter: Brian Clark, Master Jeweler from All American Jewelry Designers, Inc. The standby competitor was rushed to the show floor to fill Jyothi's spot.
Day 2: Parts & Pieces Challenge
Day two of the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop required challengers to build a piece of their choosing from an array of raw materials. The competitors could create their designs using any tools on the demo floor. Equipment ranged from fully-stocked model benches, laser welders, engravers, plating units — everything they needed. Contestants were hard to track down as they whisked about the demo floor completing their tasks.
And the winner is . . . Patrick Dobbs
Having competed in this competition before, Dobbs was able to learn from his experience to improve his performance. After fumbling to complete his piece in the 2016 competition, Patrick knew what was necessary to dominate this year. From the onset, he reminded himself, "make it simple, make it beautiful, make it easy to complete" (especially going up against such talented competitors). His winning design combined an organic form with beaming diamond accents and a large Swarovski Blue Zircon center stone.
Day 3: The Finish Line Challenge
In today's fast-changing jewelry industry, CAD is arguably the most powerful tool in a jeweler's workshop. So it's only appropriate that the final challenge hinged on building a contest-winning CAD design. The instructions read:
"A few weeks ago, the world recently celebrated International Women’s Day. The day recognizes the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. While there are women in our personal lives that have impacted all of us, your task is to create a statement ring, necklace, or bracelet for a well-known, prominent woman. It can be a historical figure, or someone currently paving the way for future generations to flourish. You can design for any well-known iconic female you choose."
- Patrick Dobbs created a contemporary blue sapphire ring for the late Princess Diana.
- David Adamson designed a piece inspired by unity and togetherness for Michelle Obama.
- Craig Farley devised an intricately-beaded necklace for the ancient Egyptian ruler Cleopatra.
- Brian Clark's creation was in honor of Dolly Parton who pioneered the Imagination Library program.
And the winner is . . . Patrick Dobbs
Patrick set out to create an exciting concept for this project. "I had the hardest time coming up with it [his design]. I came up with it by thinking about the Elton John song [Candle in the Wind]. And that's where I came up with the whole idea and thought process. Then I was off and running!"
Grand Champion: Patrick Dobbs
In Good Company
Stuller welcomed Adam Voss and his team to the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop to film the fifth iteration of Stuller's In Good Company mini-series. The film crew shot live demos and interviewed Workshop attendees, including Brian Barnes (pictured above).
Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology
Patrick Dobbs represented the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology. Over twenty students visited the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop to experience the tools, training, software, and expertise Stuller offers. "I wanted to draw attention to the school — one of the finest jewelry schools in the country," Patrick explained. "I went to school there, and it's where I got all my knowledge. I'm on the board and helping with the curriculum. So I just wanted to make sure people were aware of this school still."
A Special Thanks
A very special thanks to Swarovski Gemstones for donating the stones used in the Battle of the Benches competition.
That's a wrap — the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop was a roaring success! Did you attend? Which seminar was your favorite? How was the experience overall? Tell us in the comment section below.