Student Design Contest with Holts Academy

holts benchworkers



You can only imagine the level of excitement I felt when I got a call from Jack Meyer (the Senior CAD and Technology instructor for Holts Academy in London) – asking Gem Privé to sponsor a design competition for his students!

I carefully listened to his proposal of joining forces, but to be honest, he had me at hello! Holts Academy has earned industry-wide respect for their training and unique qualifications that give students, from any background, the best traditional and cutting-edge skills in jewellery making, design, production, business, and CAD.  Each year members of their alumni win prestigious national and international awards for jewellery making, goldsmith and silversmith skills, and CAD design. Their reputation most certainly proceeds them!




Jack asked me if I had a commercial project the students could work on.  As fate would have it, I had spoken to a dear friend of mine earlier that week, about gemstones her mother had given her many years ago. She wanted to incorporate them into a gold bracelet and asked if Gem Privé could provide her with a few designs to choose from?!

The perfect project for a partnership, or so we all thought, until we saw the giant gemstones! As we only had a month to complete the project, I met the class immediately to discuss the brief, and to inform them that pictures and dimensions of the gemstones would be supplied to them upon return of our client – who was away on holiday.

The gemstones arrived and changed the game entirely. Suddenly, we were no longer on the High Street, we were on Bond Street!

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Blue Moldavite and Yellow Citrine (10-22cts)


Not only that, but when it was revealed to the class that our client was the daughter of an iconic American fashion designer, the bar was raised even higher!


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Liza with her Mum, Lilly Pulitzer


With pictures from the clients home, and a photo reference of jewellery from a magazine, the class of four embarked on a journey of discovery and design…


liza house 4      liza house 1

liza kitch             liza lroom      IMG_4059


Here are the results:

1. David Baer

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‘Tide-Pool of Gold’

David’s Inspiration: “Inspired by the brief which showed the client’s home I thought an oceanic theme would be pleasing. First I looked at the photograph of the bracelet sent by the client and I thought it was in the 1980’s style of jewellery – which I then researched further. The vibrant colours and flower motives of the lovely dresses designed by the client’s mother encouraged me to go for a natural and organic flowing shape inspired by shells, corals, and anemones.”


2. Greta Kaniok / 1

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‘Sunset on the Waves’

Greta’s Inspiration: “I loved the colour’s of the loose Gemstones for the cuff design, it reminded me of the sunset over the ocean, the deep orange of the sun and the blue-green of the water. I focused on the idea of the light through the waves as the sun sets over the ocean. I looked at iconic fashion designers of the 80s including Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Azzedine Alaia. I wanted to infuse that feeling of the bright and vivid exuberance of the 80s era within the bracelet/cuff.”

3. Greta Kaniok /2

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4. Jordan Robins





Jordan’s Inspiration: “Inspiration was taken from the images of the client’s house. I noticed the home was full of symmetrical lines and shapes. I also searched the family brand and noticed the designs were based on patterns of a certain style and I began to play with forms and shapes and created something very unique with a reflection of the style. There are two separate cuffs which can be worn together or alone.”


5. Marcus Turle /1

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‘Hidden Treasure’

Marcus’ Inspiration: “I gathered my inspiration directly from the bereft and my life spent on a sail boat in Florida and the Caribbean and the subsequent life-style. In the first cuff I present to you, the stones appear to be dropped into the surface of a pool of gold. As the ripples travel outwards they diminish in height – so as they pass through each other they are always at different heights -catching the light to create a stunning effect.
This piece also has a secret scene that only the owner knows about! It consists of an underwater scene of a diver with playful dolphins, and of numerous fish, while a sting ray heads off into distance. Hidden in the inside of the cuff is a pearl for the owners private delight.”

6. Marcus Turle /2

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Thankfully we didn’t have to choose the winning design but we did have Ben and Rupert from Wax Masters as guest judges on hand to offer up their expert opinions! Wax-Masters is a design and manufacturing company based in London, specialising in wax rapid prototyping and 3D design CAD software.

It was truly fascinating hearing their critiques and input on everything including fabrication options, weights of the metals, alternative manufacturing techniques – you name it!

“All things considered: aesthetics, manufacturing, materials, etc, we both thought that Greta Kaniok’s design suited the brief best. We thought that all the designs were really well thought out, and modelled and rendered to a high standard, with each one displaying individuality and originality.”  

                      Perspective_YG_TORM_CITRIN_blkbkgrnd_1024x1024_roughlargetexturejudges award 2015

We are delighted to award Greta a Gem Privé Judges Award- well deserved! We also want to say a BIG thank you to Holts Academy for partnering with us, we feel very honoured, and look forward to another collaboration in the not too distant future!


There is one award left to be decided upon for this contest—the people’s choice. We want to open voting on this award to the public. Cast your vote on the pieces above. The most popular design will win the coveted Gem Privé People’s Choice Award – all you need to do is choose one:

  • David Baer
  • Greta Kaniok
  • Marcus Turle
  • Jordan Robins

Share your a favourite and comment at the bottom of the page! Good luck designers 🙂


  1. Nina Tarassachvili 22/08/2015 Reply

    Very interesting work, well done, attractive.

  2. Mandy Maltwood 03/09/2015 Reply

    I think Greta’s cuff has captured the 80’s glamour exquisitely, and cleverly protected these treasured gems with a beautiful curving wave design. Fantastic, I Can see this lighting up the room, and evoking many happy memories for the client. Well done Greta!

  3. Ajith Siriwardena 05/10/2015 Reply

    1st 4
    2nd 2
    3Rd 1

  4. Elisabeth 20/10/2015 Reply

    Very beautiful I choose ‘Greta Kaniok’

  5. Nilar Win Maung 21/10/2015 Reply

    I am only a jewellery lovers, I think that all of the works are very artistic. Most of all, I vote as follows:
    1st- 1
    2nd- 2
    3rd- 4
    4th- 6

  6. Poppy 07/11/2015 Reply

    I choose Greta Kaniok ‘Sunset on the waves’

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