Staff photo by Joshua Curry
Susan Drake works in the Spectrum Art Gallery Design Studio designing and creating custom jewelry. She was recently awarded first place in two categories from the MJSA.
The creative team of Spectrum Art and Jewelry has received national attention for three of its new designs.
“These design competitions give us tremendous credibility,” said Star Sosa, owner of Spectrum Art and Jewelry. “When people come to us with their mother’s wedding ring, and they want to do this or that but they’re nervous about letting us have it, they see all the trophies on the wall and the national and international publications that have photos of our work and they say, ‘OK, well I guess these people know what they’re doing.’”
All three of the awards went to jewelry created by Susan Drake, who joined the Spectrum team two years ago. This will be the second year in a row that three of Drake’s designs have received national recognition, bringing the total number of awards she has won with Spectrum to six, and the total number of national awards received by Spectrum over its 16-year career to 11.
“I think, quite honestly, that we have more design awards than any jewelry store in the coastal Carolinas,” Sosa said. “N.C. can boast some very successful jewelry designers. There’s some in the central part of the state that have definitely made a name for themselves, but along the coast of North and South Carolina, we’ve probably gotten more national recognition then just about anyone out there.”
The first of Spectrum’s recent awards was placement in the top finalists of the “Biggest Jewelry Design Contest Ever,” presented by the Palladium Alliance International. Drake’s piece was selected from among 300 pieced submitted by top designers around the country.
The next two were recognized with Vision awards from the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA). The pieces placed first and second in the Palladium Distinction category.
Sosa said palladium is a pure white metal in the platinum category that tends to trade at the same price as 14 caret gold.
Drake said she began making jewelry in high school, while working at a local jewelry store. She said she has been working with gold and platinum ever since she started.
“I know a lot of people will start on the home bench with silver and work their way up,” Drake said, “but I started at the high end stuff and it spoils you. Those materials are so strong, the precious metals allow you to do all those risky-looking out-there designs. ... They just perform in ways that silver and copper and some of the other cool-looking metals don’t.”
Drake said jewelry making is something she would do on weekends for fun if it weren’t her career, but as for how it feels to see her work be recognized by her peers, Drake is pleased.
“Yeah,” Drake said. “It pretty much rocks.”