JAA Awards Winners 2023

The Jewellers Association of Australia is proud to have presented the 27th instalment of the JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards at the Jewellery Industry Fair in…

The Jewellers Association of Australia is proud to have presented the 27th instalment of the JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards at the Jewellery Industry Fair in Sydney this August. The Awards celebrate and recognise design, innovation, craftsmanship and marketability in the jewellery industry. Recognised as the ultimate industry awards that rewards creativity, skill and techniquethe most distinguished program for the Australian and New Zealand jewellery community.

Congratulations to all winners, finalists and entrants for entrusting the JAA to showcase your talent and incredible skills. Thank you to our judges Michael Muratore, Debbie Sheezel and Cameron Mitchell for their expertise and tireless efforts in selecting the finalists and winners, whilst giving each entry the attention it deserves. You can read more about the winners of the Awards and view the eMagazine featuring all. Awards entries at jaa.com.au/awards. Our gratitude extends to the sponsors, who without their generosity and support the Awards program would not be possible. Thank you!

Tammy Keers + Kathy McLay
Jeweller of the Year

Experience: 30 years each
Business: Artisans Bespoke Jewellers, QLD

Tammy Keers (owner) and Kathy McLay (workshop’s jewellery genius), two stalwarts in the industry, have amassed an impressive track record of almost three decades in the field. With their wealth of experience, passion for design, and technical proficiency, these formidable women have consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation in the world of jewellery.

Tammy, armed with a Bachelor of Jewellery Design and a trade apprenticeship as a bench jeweller boasts a unique blend of artistic talent and technical expertise. Her training in jewellery design has equipped her with a deep understanding of shape, form, and composition. Tammy’s meticulous attention to detail and ability to create stunning pieces have earned her a loyal clientele. Her designs are marked by an impeccable sense of balance and an unwavering commitment to quality.

On the other hand, Kathy brings a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Gold and Silversmithing, coupled with a trade apprenticeship. With her background in the visual arts, she brings a fresh perspective to the realm of jewellery design. Kathy’s creative  air and ability to think outside the box have enabled
her to develop unique and captivating creations. She loves working with her hands and her extensive knowledge of gold and silversmithing techniques allow her to experiment and push the boundaries of traditional jewellery design.

A hallmark of Tammy and Kathy’s collaboration is their shared passion for pushing the limits of creativity and craftsmanship. Embracing the challenge of creating jewellery that is both visually stunning and technically complex, they inspire each other to dare to dream bigger.

Ari Fleming

Experience: Born into the industry
Business: Jeremy Fleming Jewellers, VIC

Born into a family deeply involved in the jewellery business, Ari has always had a natural affinity for design and the art of crafting stunning pieces.

Ari’s journey in the world of jewellery began at an early age, as he watched his father pour his heart and soul into their  flourishing business. Witnessing his father’s passion for the industry and the beauty he created with his own hands ignited a fire within Ari, sparking a budding interest in the art of jewellery making.

For Ari, the appeal of being a jeweller lies not only in the freedom for creativity but also in the joy it brings to customers. The satisfaction of seeing the sheer delight on someone’s face when they receive a custom-designed, hand-crafted piece is immeasurable. It is this connection between the
maker and the wearer that truly drives Ari’s love for his craft.

While Ari’s talent knows no bounds, he often turns to his greatest muses for inspiration—his sisters and his mother. Most of his designs are created with them in mind, ensuring that every piece he creates is met with their approval and love. Even in the face of competition, Ari finds solace in the fact that even if he falls short, his creations will find a home with the cherished women in his family.

Ari’s decision to enter the Awards was not solely driven by a thirst for recognition, but also by a desire to measure up to his father’s achievements. Three decades ago, his father emerged victorious in the very same competition at the same age. Fuelled by a healthy rivalry, Ari is determined to stake his claim in the industry and take his place alongside his father as an accomplished jeweller.

Katie Law

Experience: 13+ years
Business: Katie Law Jewellery, NSW

One person who has embraced this creative freedom in the jewellery industry is Katie Law. With over 13 years of experience, she has established herself as a self-employed jeweller, creating unique and meaningful pieces that capture the essence of her clients’ emotions.

Katie’s passion for jewellery began during her high school years when she embarked on a work experience program with Todd Turner, an esteemed jeweller. It was during this time that she fell in love with the craft and realised that she wanted to pursue it as a career. Todd recognised her talent and introduced her to Jason Ree, another prominent jeweller, who advised her to finish school before diving head first into the trade.

Following Jason’s advice, Katie diligently worked for Todd one afternoon a week while completing a TVET jewellery course as part of her high school curriculum, allowing her to gain practical experience while acquiring the necessary theoretical knowledge. When she completed her HSC exams, Katie wasted no time and immediately began her apprenticeship, fully committed to honing her skills and making a name for herself in the industry.

Over the years, Katie has developed a deep appreciation for the uniqueness of stones. Each stone she works with tells a different story, and their characteristics serve as a constant source of inspiration for her creations. Embracing the diversity of stones allows her to escape the confines
of a particular style or niche, enabling her to constantly push the boundaries of her creativity. She is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the significant moments in people’s lives through her craft.

Erin Pearce
Precious Metal

Experience: 20+ years
Business: Mill Foundry, NSW

Erin’s journey into the world of jewellery-making began over 20 years ago during her high school years. It was here that she discovered her passion for working with precious metals and gemstones. After pursuing a degree in Fine Arts at university, she honed her skills in the jewellery trade, gaining valuable experience in wholesale and production.

In 2016, Pearce decided to pursue her dream even further by undertaking an apprenticeship. This marked a turning point in her career, as she delved deeper into the art and craftsmanship of jewellery making. Little did she know that this journey would lead her to create her own jewellery-manufacturing business, Mill Foundry. Launched during the global pandemic, Mill Foundry became a symbol of perseverance and determination.

Erin’s talent and creativity only shone brighter. As lockdowns began to ease, she took the opportunity to join forces with The Bench, Sydney—a community of talented jewellers. Here, she not only found a supportive network of like-minded artists but also started teaching regular classes, where she could share her knowledge and passion for jewellery making.

Inspired by mid-century modernist artists such as Margel Hinder and Marianne Brandt, she infuses her designs with a sculptural quality that celebrates form and function. Her pieces are not just accessories; they are works of art that evoke emotion and spark conversation.

Erin believes that participating in the Awards helps artists grow but also allows the freedom to create without the constraints of a client’s specifications.

Benjamin Tracy

Experience: 33 years
Business: Finelines Jewellers, QLD

Having always had a keen interest in the arts and creative fields, it was with a school excursion to Brisbane Art College in 1989, where Benjamin discovered that gold and silversmithing actually existed, and the unique and creative outlet this craft offered got him excited.

His journey as a jeweller has been exciting. From the moment he started his work experience trial, he fell in love with the craft. Sitting on the bench, he felt a sense of comfort and belonging, knowing that he had stumbled upon his true calling. Throughout his career, Benjamin has had the privilege of working with incredible people and discovering the most enchanting places, all of which have enriched his understanding of gemstones and helped hone his skills as a jeweller.

One of the reasons Tracy entered the awards was to let his creativity run wild. With the support of his clients, he has had the opportunity to create unique and extraordinary pieces that are worthy of recognition. The excitement he sees in his clients when he asks permission to submit their commissions for awards is infectious and acts as a constant inspiration for him to push boundaries and create something extraordinary.

Winning this category validates his choice to explore unconventional options in the world of jewellery, particularly engagement and wedding rings. This is where he sees a shift in clients’ wants, whether this be for ethical, or budgetary reasons or because they are looking for something unique. He hopes that by winning this Award, more of his clients will be encouraged to explore the world of coloured gemstones and add a touch of vibrancy to their lives.

Jason Sallaway
People’s Choice

Experience: 34 years
Business: Jason Sallaway Jewellery, QLD

For over three decades, Jason Sallaway has been dedicated to the art of jewellery making. With a love for creating, designing, and working with his hands, Sallaway has built a successful career in the industry. From his humble beginnings as an apprentice jeweller to becoming the owner of his
jewellery workshop, his journey is one of passion, perseverance, and creativity.

One of the key sources of inspiration for Jason has been his apprentice. Over the past two years, her enthusiasm, passion for creativity, and insatiable desire to learn have reignited his passion for designing. Seeing her embrace the craft with such fervour has reminded him of the joy that comes from creating something truly unique. Sallaway treasures the opportunity to share his knowledge and expertise with his apprentice, realising that the exchange of ideas and perspectives is the key to growth and innovation.

While designing for others is a significant part of his work, Sallaway also finds it rewarding to design for himself. In the fast-paced world of jewellery making, it is easy to get caught up in fulfilling the desires and visions of clients. However, Sallaway understands the importance of nurturing his creativity and ensuring that he continues to explore new ideas and techniques. He believes that by continuously challenging himself, he can deliver the best possible designs for his clients.

Jason is not just an exceptional jeweller but a true artist. His dedication, passion, and undeniable talent have made him a respected figure in the industry. He continually seeks to push the boundaries, resulting in exquisite and unique jewellery pieces.

Nazanin Mohammadkhani
People’s Choice

Experience: 30+ years
Business: Gerard McCabe, SA

Born in Iran, Nazanin hails from a culture where jewellery holds great significance. In Persian culture, jewellery is not merely an aesthetic accessory; it is a means of self-expression. It represents one’s character, emotions, and personal style. Inspired by this deep-rooted cultural connection to jewellery, Nazanin decided to turn her creative pursuits into a profession.

For the past seven years, Nazanin has been an integral part of the design team at South Australian jeweller, Gerard McCabe. Working closely with her colleagues, she undertakes the entire design process, from conceptualisation to the final creation. The design team’s unwavering support allows her to explore her creative ideas and transform them into tangible masterpieces.

As an artist at heart, she is constantly seeking to delve into the depths of human thoughts and emotions. She believes that jewellery serves as a powerful tool to communicate and convey messages. Fascinated by the way jewellery can evoke extreme feelings and emotions, she strives to infuse her designs with a profound sense of meaning.

Nazanin says “I think that winning the Award tells our clients and supporters that we care about jewellery design, that we value pushing ourselves and are not afraid to take risks. We don’t enter to win, we enter to show our clients we care enough about jewellery to put ourselves out there. Everyone starts with dreaming, just being part of the JAA competition is something to be proud of. It will push you further and give you an opportunity to try something new. I say to dream big and just go for it, you can only get better.”

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