Stuller's 2nd Annual Battle of the Benches competition was the main attraction at this year's Bench Jeweler Workshop. Four exceptional bench jewelers exhibited their skill at the bench in an exciting design contest as onlookers watched the competition unfold. After three grueling days and three exhausting challenges, Australian Jyothi Forman was crowned Grand Champion

Jyothi earned her title by winning the Parts & Pieces and Finish Line challenges, held on days 2 and 3. The Parts & Pieces challenge required contestants to create a unique piece from an array of materials laid out on the showroom floor. They could choose their materials and use any tools on the demo floor. Equipment ranged from fully stocked model benches, laser welders, engravers, and plating units, among others. Jyothi created a beautiful concave broach featuring a rose gold background offset with an asymmetrical flower that could spin on its rivet. The blooming centerpiece included bezel-set spring colored gemstones. “I wanted to create a really warm and inviting piece to represent how I feel about Lafayette,” she explained. “So I created this piece out of rose and white gold with the flower that spins on a rivet.”


The Finish Line challenge called for all contestants to submit a CAD design entry piece, which would be cast in-house. The contestants had to assemble, set, prep, and polish their original entries to perfection. Working against the clock, three contestants fashioned highly detailed pendants while Jyothi Forman completed a spectacular sapphire cocktail ring. Jyothi’s unique angle earned her the victory in the final round. The split shank cocktail ring featured dazzling engraving, a beautifully faceted sapphire, and a sculpted flower on the bottom of the band. Jyothi explained, “I took my time. My piece is quite simple, so I wanted to get everything perfect and clean it up beautifully. From the top, it’s quite a simple piece but then looking at the side you see all the beadwork, the engraving, and the detailed flower at the bottom of the ring.”

Jyothi's unqiue, expert approach was consistent throughout her bench performances and everyone at Bench Jeweler Workshop gained inspiration from her efforts. Upon her victory, Jyothi commented, "What an honor. It was such fun, I had a really good time here, and that’s what I wanted. Winning is just a bonus,” she gushed. And when asked about the idea of returning next year to defend her title, Jyothi replied, ”That’d be amazing, I’ve had such a good time here, it’s awesome!”