The submission deadline for the 18th annual Bright New Gems 2023 has been extended to Wednesday June 21, in response to requests from numerous colleges. The contest, which is backed by industry organisations such as the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ), Retail Jeweller, The Benevolent Society, and a new judging panel, offers six winners a unique opportunity for their first commercial platform.
Opportunity for Winners
The winning six get an unparalleled chance not only to receive essential mentoring but also to exhibit at the UK Jewellery Show. They will be featured on the successful online website, Pearls & Pomegranates, which specialises in independent jewellers, and will get an opportunity to design a collection for John Lewis & Partners, available for sale in flagship stores and online.
Bright New Gems winners will also be invited by Retail Jeweller to display their collections at the two-day UK Jewellery Festival 2023, scheduled for September 5-6 at the Hilton London Metropole. Here, they will connect with senior retail decision-makers and buyers and listen to retail industry veterans discussing subjects like the future of stores and experiential retailing.
The NAJ will continue its tradition of giving valuable career advice on how winners can best leverage the opportunity to present their work at the UK Jewellery Festival. Additionally, virtual meetings with each of the judges will be organised to discuss the winners’ work.
Application Process and Categories
The competition is open to jewellery designers graduating this summer from UK colleges and universities, both at the BA and MA levels. Submissions can be made for one or both of the two categories:
- Show Off – Statement pieces: These should display creative flair, innovative use of materials and have potential commercial viability.
- Responsible Thinking – Sustainable eco-heroes: These entries should be made with ethically sourced or sustainable materials and also demonstrate potential commercial viability.
Four BA winners and two MA graduates will be selected by the judges. All will benefit from publicity, valuable online mentoring in July from the NAJ, and virtual meetings with the judges.
Bright New Gems Re-launched
In response to feedback from colleges and students seeking a more inclusive name, ‘Bright Young Gems’ has been renamed ‘Bright New Gems’ for its 2023 iteration. The programme has a history of aiding rising talent, having supported 79 winners to date, including renowned designers like Pippa Small, Fernando Jorge, Ruth Tomlinson and Zeemou Zeng.
The Panel of Judges
This year’s judging panel includes past Bright Young Gem 2006 and award-winning jewellery designer Tomasz Donocik, who referred to the platform as an “initial springboard to launch careers”. He will be joined by returning judges Jessica Diamond, Maria Doulton, Susi Smither, and Elena Bergonzi representing John Lewis & Partners.
The panel will also honour the legacy of the late Hilary Alexander, a dedicated supporter of new talent, who served as a judge for 17 years.
Additional Support for Winners
The Benevolent Society will contribute a £400 bursary to each winner to support travel and exhibiting costs, reinforcing their commitment to nurturing new talent. Pearls & Pomegranates, the online retail site for independent jewellers, will also offer the winners a free one-year subscription to their platform, ensuring the emerging talents can have an immediate online presence.
Updates from 2022 Winners
The 2022 winners have been actively refining their collections, exhibiting, and securing roles in the industry. Their successes demonstrate the significant impact of the Bright New Gems programme, which can be a launchpad for the UK’s future generation of jewellery designers.
Interested applicants are encouraged to contact BNG@hammondpr.co.uk for application forms before the revised deadline of June 21.