2022 Jewelry-Making Contest Winners

There's only one word to sum up Deb Benninger's masterpiece: SPECTACULAR! Aristotle's Psyche was created for a photoshoot and meant to resemble "a swarm of butterflies around the neck," according to the artist. Each shining butterfly wing is wire wrapped and woven in place on a wire frame accented with hand-painted metal leaves and flowers and illuminated after sundown by tiny lights. "The name of the piece," Deb explains, is a nod to the fact that "Aristotle gave the butterfly the name 'psyche,'" the Greek word for 'soul.'" This halo of color and movement certainly has a surreal and magical aura, which won the judges over and earned Deb's creation Best in Show.

Different people deal with "all the chaos and uncertainty in the world we live in" in different ways. Kristina Joseph chose to make a physical representation of that Chaos with intricate wire work. Swirls and spirals coil around a labradorite cabochon, as if to close in on it from every angle. But amid this seeming tangle of wire is Kristina's precise wrapping, reminding us that there is often order amid the chaos if we look for it.

Rock on, punk! Tiffany Conley wanted to make "spikey cuffs in wire" that would have the look of stacked bracelets … without the sliding around bit. We think her Glam Rock Trio accomplishes both goals with their edgy spiked layers and intricate wire-wrapping. The triangular weaves are reminiscent of the displays on recording equipment, while the swirls on the silver cuff might represent sound waves. The use of Czech glass spike beads was a bit of a happy accident, according to Tiffany. Unable to find the Crystal Passions® spikes she normally used, Tiffany "stumbled upon the Czech pyramid beads" and found that the taller pyramids "made for a much bolder design." Proof that sometimes, the unexpected can result in something better.

Crystal Passions® fancy stones and bicones are the stars of the show in Rangashrii Santhanam's Flora. The lively green and bright gold palette is perfect for springtime, and the simple elegance of these treasures makes them great for a night on the town or dressing up a pair of jeans, as the artist intended.

The inspiration for Lorae' Angle-Nguyen's Kinky Boots dance heels is a personal one with a fun backstory. When her daughter needed customized dancing shoes for her role in a production of "Kinky Boots," Lorae' stepped in and bedazzled them with rhinestone bees and flowers, a theme suggested by dancer Michael Powers and drawn freehand by Lorae's daughter. "The shoes," Lorae' tells us, "were famous as far away as Europe for the creativity and pure sparkle of simple dance heels."

Inspired by a necklace she saw online, Christy Lensch created this breathtaking Roaring 20s necklace and earring set. Her wire-linked pearls look like something you'd see on a genuine antique, and the whole piece is excellently made, despite this being her "first year of doing this kind of jewelry." Christy says, " I wanted something in keeping with the vintage look, but less Art Deco style." We think her handiwork accomplishes that goal with dramatic results.

The amount of detail in Morra Giovina's Kabilia is simply breathtaking! From the beaded flowers to the graceful shapes to the crystal rhinestones tucked among the seed beads, this is a masterpiece of seed-beading techniques that takes its inspiration, "the color lilac," to exquisite and jaw-dropping heights.

You might think Ezartesa's Secret Garden has ties to children's literature, but this intricately seed-beaded bracelet's origin has a far more ancient inspiration: the Garden of Eden. Ezartesa has recreated the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in shining stylized detail, complete with tempting beaded fruits. "The first tree opens eyes and the second shuts eyes," the artist explains. "For me, the tree symbolizes consciousness." If you open your eyes and look carefully, you'll see the serpent coiled among the leaves!

With its brilliant colors, variety of beads and materials and amazing craftsmanship, James Franco's Egyptian-inspired collar is the stuff that Nile Dreams are made of. "It's one of my favorite pieces I've created," James declares proudly. "It's simply beautiful." We couldn't agree more. This incredible creation is worthy of Nefertiti herself.

If you asked Sheila Schwede how her Garden grows, she'd say it was with BRONZclay™, Mexican fire opal, diamond and cubic zirconia. The botanical details on this exquisite pendant were inspired by the new growth in springtime and make the piece both graceful and substantial. The warm tones of the brass setting enhance the deep scarlet glow of the lapidary-shaped and -polished stone, accented with a tiny diamond. The little cubic zirconias twinkle amid the golden vines like stars seen through an arbor on a warm spring evening.

Ann Holden created Gnomeo as a birthday present for her daughter, and we're sure she loved him. We're especially impressed with the woven texture on this cute little fellow's hat and other details that infuse this whimsical piece with character.

Inspired by the gold and bronze metal work of the Ashanti people in Africa, Natasha Downs used PMC® to make the medallions in Ashanti Lace. The lacy effect is furthered by small holes drilled in strategic places after the metal clay was bone-dry. And the best part? Natasha's masterpiece is stamped with pretty patterns on both sides, making it reversible.

Inspired by the movie "Men in Black," Andrew Cooper hand-cut and soldered fifty individual pieces of sterling silver to form the cage-like pendant of Orion's Belt. This impressive piece elevates the glass marble inside from dollar store trinket to wearable art.

An eclectic combo of copper, jeweler's bronze, ParaWire™ and Zebra Wire™ in gold and silver finishes, LeAlta Brummet's necklace and earring set is certainly All Mixed Up and spot-on with the mixed metals jewelry trend. Denim-blue labradorite beads add a cool contrast to the warm metallic tones, while a cinnamon-brown goldstone cabochon glitters in the center of a pendant scalloped with pliers.

Inspired by Lake Michigan near her home, Audra Baade has captured the image of a Sunrise over the Lake in this necklace that makes creative use of negative space. "It allows a larger metal piece to have a bold presence without feeling visually heavy," Audra remarks. Soldered sterling silver wire and lapis lazuli create simple shapes and clean lines representing "blue water and a few rays of sunlight streaming upward," the artist states. The result is a pendant that both resembles ancient hieroglyphics and is right on point with minimalist styles.