Call for entries: 2013 NICHE Awards

"Garden of Eden" hair comb by Kristopher Leinen, 2012 NICHE winner

Entries are now being accepted for the 2013 NICHE Awards, a juried competition for fine craft designers sponsored by NICHE Magazine and awarded at the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia  in February.

I always look to the latest NICHE winners for both up-and-coming jewelry artists and established metalsmiths who are introducing unique work. Other design and craft writers and magazine editors do the same. I’ve featured professional winners of jewelry NICHE awards on this blog, as well as as well student winners.

Many jewelry artists have entered my radar through this contest, including Jacob Albee, Chihiro Makio, Joanna Gollberg, Barbara Bayne and Michael Romanik, all of whom I’ve written about here as well as for magazines.

There’s a new NICHE category this year for jewelry made from “alternative materials,” as well as the usual categories for gold, gold with stones, silver, silver with stones, fashion, fine, weddings and sculpture to wear. NICHE Awards are open to both professional and student artists and you can enter here (up to three pieces per artist) by September 30, 2012. Entry fees are $40 for pros, $18 for students.

Winners are chosen based on three main criteria: technical excellence (both in surface design and form), a distinct quality of original and creative thought, and (for professional entries) market viability. Judging takes place in October and finalists are invited to display their work in a NICHE Awards exhibit at the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia (February 16-18, 2013).

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the show on February 17. Good luck!

6 comments for “Call for entries: 2013 NICHE Awards

  1. August 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks so much for spreading the word! We appreciate so much your interest in the contest and its winners. Did you know that jewelry is one of the most popular divisions of the NICHE Awards contest? It’s a little-known fact that some retailers attend the ceremony and visit the February exhibition of finalists to buy the award-winning pieces! We never guarantee that a sale will come out of participation, but we do see the retailers taking names and asking for contacts. As you know, you’re always welcome there, too, Cathleen. Cheers, Jean Thompson, 2013 NICHE Awards contest coordinator

  2. Cathleen McCarthy
    August 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks for the input, Jean. Very interesting that retailers shop the winning pieces. No doubt, this contest is well worth a submission if the jewelry is up to par. NICHE standards are high – which is what makes the winning pieces so alluring.

  3. August 23, 2012 at 4:01 am

    A friend suggested I submit my workto the NICHE Awards. I’ve never done so as I’ve assumed that as a professional who doesn’t wholesale, I wouldn’t fit the profile the Buyers Market of American Craft/NICHE is looking for. Am I mistaken in that?

  4. August 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Hello, Marianne! I took a peek at your designs online, and they are quite masterful and gorgeous, and I understand your question. You are correct: the NICHE Awards contest originated as a place where artists earned exposure that would help them land orders from galleries and stores, and thus sell wholesale. That’s why “market viability” is among the criteria used by the jury, why the jury members include fine craft retailers, and also why there’s an exhibition at the Buyers Market which is open to the wholesale trade only. That said, I have to tell you that we get a significant number of entries each year from artists who are not currently selling to galleries and many have won in their categories. The other two criteria are innovation “a distinct quality of unique, original and creative thought” and mastery “technical excellence in surface design and form.” Enter if you wish! (Just know that if you win, store buyers might start contacting you! We do have a few fine jewelry stores that purchase limited editions and one-of-kind pieces for resale.)

  5. August 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you so much, Jean! Thank you for the quick response and for the compliment to my work. I appreciate both and may submit work.
    Kind regards, Marianne

    William & Marianne Hunter

  6. Bex
    September 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Thank you for posting about the NICHE Award! Our customers would love to hear about it.


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