Press Release

Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award Inspires GIA Graduates

Kevin Schumacher/GIA
The winner of the first annual Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design was presented at GIA’s Alumni party in Tucson. L to R: Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO; Catherine Zheng, Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award recipient; and Larry French, chief officer North American strategies, Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation.

First annual Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Feb. 13, 2018 – The first annual Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design was presented on February 2, 2018 to GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graduate Catherine Zheng. The competition open to students who successfully completed the GIA Jewelry Design course in 2017 recognizes artistic excellence in jewelry design. Zheng was one of 12 finalists from seven GIA schools whose hand-rendered designs were judged by a committee comprised of known industry design, manufacturing, jewelry retail and jewelry publication experts. The Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation sponsored the award as a way to inspire beginning jewelry designers and honor the work of the renowned jewelry design house’s founder, Gianmaria Buccellati.
“We are thrilled to administer the competition for the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award. This opportunity lets our Jewelry Design students showcase the hard work that they have done throughout the program and highlight what they have learned,” said Elizabeth Brehmer, director of Jewelry Manufacturing Arts operations.
GIA graduate Catherine Zheng was the recipient of the 2017 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design. She was honored with the award for her rendering of an art deco inspired pendant necklace. Zheng, who studied at GIA’s Carlsbad school, received her GIA Jewelry Design certificate in 2017.
“This necklace is inspired by my favorite time period – Art Deco. It has very iconic and identical geometric lines to create a clean and sharp look. But at the same time it is also very feminine,” said Zheng. “I think this piece captured a great balance between strength and elegance. It makes this piece stand out by combining elements that are both masculine and feminine.”

Jewelry design by Catherine Zheng of an Art Deco-inspired necklace featuring blue sapphire, tanzanite, diamonds and enamel. An ornate pendant hangs from a chain with stations of embellished links in between the chain. Photo by Emily Lane/GIA.

This year’s contestants included students from GIA’s Carlsbad, Hong Kong, India, New York, London, Taiwan and Thailand schools. The designs were original, hand-rendered works painted according to GIA’s Jewelry Design curriculum and completed during the course. The pieces then went through several phases of judging and were ultimately evaluated by a panel of industry experts. The finalists’ designs were on display and the recipient of the award was announced at the annual GIA alumni event held during the AGTA Gem Fair in Tucson, AZ.
The 2018 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design competition is underway and open to students in GIA’s Jewelry Design course who meet the eligibility requirements.
About the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation
The Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation is a non-profit organization created in 2008 that aims to conserve and celebrate the extraordinary artistic and cultural legacy of Gianmaria Buccellati and his father Mario. Gianmaria’s work has been honored with major awards from both the Italian and the French governments. He has been featured in exhibitions around the world and his work is in the collections of the Smithsonian, The Kremlin and the Pitti Palace museums. The foundation, in addition to supporting young aspiring designers and goldsmiths, also publishes books and continues to present exhibitions of Gianmaria’s work around the world.

About GIA

An independent nonprofit organization, GIA (Gemological Institute of America), established in 1931, is recognized as the world’s foremost authority in gemology. GIA invented the famous 4Cs of Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight and, in 1953, created the International Diamond Grading System™ which is recognized around the world as the standard for diamond quality.
Through research, education, gemological laboratory services and instrument development, the Institute is dedicated to ensuring the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, science and professionalism.