The Dubai Pearl Exchange (DPE), a subsidiary of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), announced the winners of its prestigious Pearl Essence programme, the world's first-ever global pearl design initiative encompassing all different types of pearls. Three talented winners were awarded from eleven finalists who were hosted and felicitated, along with their tutors, during the Gala and Awards Ceremony on May 2, 2010.
The ceremony was held alongside the 7th Dubai City of Gold Conference at the Almas Tower, the tallest office tower in the Middle East and fast emerging as the location of choice for the gold and precious gems industries. This year's conference brought together over 400 participants from the global jewellery industry for discussions on current and future market trends for the gold industry.
The final round of judging was conducted between 11 finalists, shortlisted from 644 entries received from 46 institutes across 10 countries. The short-listed designs were fabricated into finished jewellery exclusively by DMCC-nominated manufacturers and pearl sponsors. The student awards required jewellery design students to create contemporary and innovative pieces using a variety of pearls with a focus on the revival of UAE's pearling heritage.
DMCC showcased the finalist designs and pieces for the first time at the Gala and now have them on display for a further six months at Level 2 Almas Tower, home of the DPE.
“Pearls are integral to the history of the region, and DMCC is working towards revitalising the traditional Arabian pearl trade that once thrived through the ports of Dubai,” said Ahmed bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, DMCC. “The response to the Pearl Essence programme has been phenomenal, further highlighting the cultural significance of this traditional gem and the need for initiatives that continue to establish Dubai as a premier hub for the trade.
Reinhardt Van Zyl from Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa was named the Pearl Essence winner for 'Curvature,' a unique, edgy piece created using Fresh Water pearls.
In second place was Catherine Buman's “The Life Line”, a piece inspired by dhows and pearl divers, created from Mahogany wood, white gold and Akoya pearls, reflecting a refreshingly zen approach . The third prize was awarded to Belinda Koopman for “Dubai Night Sky,” an avant-garde piece with a beguiling story created in the Combination category from South Sea and Fresh Water pearls.
Van Zyl will be awarded a month-long internship with Stephen Webster in London, Buman will be awarded a week-long trip to the pearling operations and pearl farms of Paspaley Pearling Co. in Western Australia, and Koopman will be awarded a pearl course at the Gemmological Institute of America's (GIA's) New York campus, followed by exclusive meetings with GIA's experts and trade visits for a total of five days. In addition, there will also be an online pearl course for all finalists sponsored by GIA.