UL Lafayette graduate, Michael Bartlett, was recently awarded one of the highest honors at the JCK 2011 Platinum Innovation Awards hosted by the Platinum Guild International. The competition, which is the most comprehensive jewelry gathering in the country, began in New York in May with editor’s voting. It culminated in Las Vegas in June for the people’s choice voting, awards banquet and press conference. His ring design not only won the Modern Engagement Ring Category, but it also came away with Best in Show.
Bartlett graduated in Industrial Design from UL Lafayette and went on to work at Stuller, Inc. in 2009. Though he had no previous experience working with jewelry, he was hired on as one of three associate designers. He quickly got a handle on the industry and trends and is responsible for tweaking rough design ideas that are presented to him. His job is to make the jewelry piece realistic and producible.
According to Bartlett, Stuller gives a lot of creative freedom to their associate designers- especially those who desire to put in the extra effort and pursue creative opportunities. This is proven to be true by the fact that they sponsored their employees to enter their own designs. Bartlett’s ring made it through the first round of eliminations, which was decided by the Bridal Vice President at Stuller. This gained him entry into the JCK Platinum Innovation Awards. Next it was up to fashion editors from across the nation to decide which rings stood above the rest. The last round of voting was conducted through text messages as attendees walked the floor deciding on which rings they favored. Bartlett’s ring received the most overall votes between editors’ choice and people’s choice, therefore awarding him Best in Show.
When asked about his level of surprise, Bartlett said, “I was pretty confident at first after hearing a lot of buzz about my ring.” His ring was even featured in the preview video for the competition. Nerves set in when he arrived at the competition. “I began to realize just how many big designers I was competing against,” he said. All the nerves paid off though. Stuller, Inc. was awarded a $50,000 prize package because of Bartlett’s winning ring.
Stuller, Inc. will now produce Bartlett’s ring, which they will then sell to jewelry stores around the world. When asked about his career goals, Bartlett said that he hopes to be one of the people coming up with the ideas and setting the trends. It seems he is well on his way.