2022 Winner - Octave Jewelry

For Ope Omojola, Octave Jewelry was the natural outcome of a lifelong creative practice prioritizing materiality, color, and movement. A student of Anthropology, communication through dress and adornment fascinated Ope. She first picked up a soldering torch at a weeknight class at the 92nd Street Y. Through independent experimentation and exploration, Ope creates wearable sculptures that speak to personal style, history, and sentimentality.

Octave Jewelry is inspired by the balance between geometric and organic forms and features hand cut stones with lampwork glass and sterling silver details. All stones are hand cut and all glass is handformed in Octave’s New York studio.

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2021 Winner - Laura Fortune Studio

After 13 years as a jewelry assistant, Laura began selling her own jewelry in 2016. Much of her creative inspiration came from a sabbatical in Lisbon, Portugal for several years until she recently returned to New York state. Laura is inspired by vibrant colors and patterns.

The Salvador Collection, launched in 2021, is inspired by her experiences of living in Portugal – a culture that embraces color, pattern and unique architecture. Laura specializes in creating colorful jewelry for bold women who love standing out with unique style by combining cloisonne enameling with gemstones.

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2020 Winner - TIN HAUS

TIN HAUS was created in 2016 by Christina Grace when she earned a scholarship to attend the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, where she received her Graduate Jeweler Diploma. She is currently enrolled in the BFA metals program at CSU Long Beach. Christina applied for the Halstead Grant in 2018 and became a Top 10 Finalist.

Designs by TIN HAUS are inspired by abstract art, nature, ancient cultures, social cause, and the spirit of everyday people. All pieces are hand crafted in Christina's Los Angeles studio using traditional jewelry and metal fabrication techniques. Her designs are bold-minimalistic statements for self-expression.

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2019 Winner - Emma Elizabeth Jewelry

Emma graduated with a B.F.A from Grand Valley State University in 2017. Her jewelry career began after the tragic loss of her boyfriend. Metalsmithing classes allowed Emma to channel her grief into creating her art. She studied abroad in Florence, Italy where she began envisioning her jewelry collection. Emma is a member of SNAG and the American Craft Council. She was a Top 5 finalist in the 2018 Halstead Grant competition.

Emma's collection features bold lines and angular organics. Her tagline "Confident – Edgy – Unique" says it all. Her pieces use simple geometric shapes in new ways and can easily go from the office to a night out. Most of her collection runs from $25 - $600, though her one of a kind pieces will vary depending on which hand-picked stones are used. She also creates commissioned bespoke jewelry for clients.

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2018 Winner - Emily Shaffer Studio

Originally from Pennsylvania, Emily received her B.F.A and B.S. from Kutztown University. During her time at Kutztown University, she was selected as a student exhibitor in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Craft Show. She moved to Maine in 2014 for a 1 year internship with studio jeweler, Cara Romano, whom she met at the PMA Craft Show. Since then she has made a home in Maine to begin her career creating contemporary jewelry.

Each piece of Emily Shaffer Studio jewelry features a clean, matte finish with oxidized components for visual depth. Emily uses sterling and argentium silver to craft pieces that strike a balance between line and negative space. A limited color palette allows for a greater emphasis on the body and the linear qualities of her work.

2018 Finalists

Click below to browse the digital version of our 2018 edition of Reveal, a hard copy publication dedicated to showcasing the work of our winner and finalists along with a few grant program alumni.

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2017 Winner - Kristen Baird Jewelry

Congratulations to Kristen Baird of Savannah, Georgia, for winning the 2017 Halstead Grant for design excellence and business strategy. Kristen's fashion and bridal lines are made using reticulation and ethically-sourced gemstones for a modern take on traditional metalsmithing techniques.
Kristen studied jewelry and metals at Savannah College of Art & Design, is a Graduate Bench Jeweler from the New Approach School of Jewelry Making, and was a Top 5 Finalist for the 2016 Halstead Grant.

Kristen says, "Working on the application and seeing everything from a new perspective has been an eye-opening experience. The time I have taken to study each detail of my business, from operations and personnel to designs and finances, has allowed me to construct the path for my brand and dream even bigger than I ever imagined possible."

Full of color and texture, Kristen's designs pay homage to the waters, landscapes and flora of the Southern landscape. As part of Kristen's commitment to her community, a portion of each sale is donated to local charities.

2017 Finalists

Check out the 2017 digital edition of our book, Reveal, to learn more about the winner and finalists. Find images of their jewelry as well as features on two Halstead Grant winners from previous years.

Listen to 2017 Top 5 Finalist, Emily Shaffer's interview on the Perceived Value Podcast about what it is like to apply for the Halstead Grant and hustle to start a new jewelry business.

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2016 Winner - ENJI Jewelry Studio by Niki Grandics

Niki Grandics from San Diego is the 2016 Halstead Grant Winner for outstanding jewelry design and business acumen. Niki's modern, edgy accessories are made using ethical practices and she gives back to the community by partnering with local charities.

Niki was winning national design awards before she even graduated college - most notably, the coveted Windgate Fellowship in 2014. That was also the year she founded ENJI Studios and received degrees in Applied Design and Marketing from San Diego State University. She is a highly-skilled GIA Graduate Jeweler and is a glass artist as well as metalsmith. She was included in the Corning Museum's New Glass Review last year.

Niki says, "I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn from amazing instructors at GIA. In addition to the technical skills of working at the bench, my mentor Mike Turinetti at GIA helps me a lot with navigating life in the industry as a young professional."

"My instructors Seth Papac and Sondra Sherman at SDSU not only encouraged the development of my design aesthetic, they really taught me about the professional side of art jewelry from writing grants and artist statements, to working with galleries, and even helped me get an internship at Galerie Marzee in the Netherlands."

Niki is passionate about using her art to support causes she believes in and believes that part of her responsibility as a modern business is to create a positive change. To that end, she designs pieces that raise money for specific charities as well as donates a portion of sales. She works with the Alliance for Hope International in conjunction with the San Diego Family Justice Center for survivor advocacy through their Voices program, and mentoring for kids and teens through Camp Hope and Pathways to Hope.

2016 Finalists

Browse through a digital copy of our 2016 publication of Reveal to see profiles and work from the year's winner and finalists as well as profiles from a few Halstead Grant alumni from prior years.

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2015 Winner - Skelton Jewelry

Congratulations to Samantha Skelton, artist and owner of Samantha Skelton Jewelry Design based in Fairview, Pennsylvania for her design excellence and business strategy acumen.

Samantha studied fine art in undergraduate at Edinboro University and earned an MFA with a focus on metalsmithing from Miami University in 2013. Her business includes custom jewelry, wholesale and gallery consignment in addition to art fairs and online sales.

"I have worked so hard to grow my jewelry design company and being recognized as the 2015 Halstead Grant winner is such an honor. I'm beyond excited! Prior to the application process, I had been working towards small goals. But, being able to see a big picture has really helped me take the next steps forward."

Samantha's jewelry designs are heavily influenced by her training as a metal sculpture artist. She says, "The sculptures I created had an industrial aesthetic and a sense of balance and symmetry, all hand-forged and kinetic. Alongside my sculptures, I found myself making smaller sculptural jewelry, almost as a sketch for larger pieces. It allowed me to play with form in a much faster and more direct way."

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2014 Winner - Erica Bello Jewelry

Halstead is proud to announce Erica Bello of Rochester, NY as the winner of the 9th annual national Halstead Grant competition for new silver jewelry makers. She will receive $5,000 in cash and $1,000 in jewelry supplies as part of her prize package.

"I was extremely honored to be chosen as the 2014 Halstead Grant recipient. Writing the grant allowed me to focus my ideas into a cohesive goal. It is an incredible opportunity to be able to put my ideas into motion; I cannot thank them enough."

Erica finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2011 at The Rochester Institute of Technology with high honors. After college she worked as a bench jeweler while she continued to strengthen her customer base for Erica Bello Jewelry. Working for one of the largest national retailers of fine jewelry enhanced her technique, skill, and business knowledge.

Erica's geometric silver jewelry with an oxidized finish can be described as industrial, bold and edgy with a three-dimensional dynamic. This unique metalsmithing work creates contrast with acute angles and semi-precious stones. Her collection is influenced by architecture and traditional jewelry archetypes.

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2013 Winner - Sculpturings

The latest grant winner is Rebecca Rose of Davenport, Fla. Rose creates Sculpturings — cast rings sculpted from found object components and original elements to interpret social issues or current events.

"Since the Halstead Grant was awarded, I've been asked to exhibit at the 1st International Art Jewellery Biennial at the Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art, and was included as an exhibiting artist at the SELECT Art Fair this December during Art Basel Miami Beach," Rose said.

Rose's work has been shown extensively in galleries throughout Manhattan and Los Angeles — on Madison Avenue and in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood — and has been purchased by a number of private art collectors, including TV producers, fashion designers, Emmy Award-winning actors and Broadway musicians.

Since the grant, "my work has appeared in the famed ‘September issue' of British Vogue, on art blogs, and in magazine interviews, I've been approached for a piece to be worn in a movie, expanded my social media reach and garnered a wider audience," Rose said.

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2012 Winner - Susan Elnora

Susan Elnora from Minneapolis won the grant in 2012 for her collection of urban, rustic silver jewelry. Elnora's work reflects her exploration of the collision of the industrial and natural worlds with American mythology.

"The Halstead Grant seemed to trigger a landslide of good fortune for my business. I have received so much amazing press and recognition from it. It still all seems a bit unreal," Elnora said.

"When I applied for the grant, I thought that participating in a wholesale show would be a great step for my business. When I received the grant, that possibility suddenly became real and I ended up doing both the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia, and the American Craft Council show in Baltimore — both incredible experiences that have led to countless new connections."

Elnora has been profiled on InStoremag.com. Her designs can be found in stores and galleries across the country as well as online at Artful Home, A Mano and ARTprojectA.

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2011 Winner - Layne Designs

Philadelphia-based artist Layne Freedline won the 2011 grant for her Layne Designs jewelry line. Freedline's jewelry features unusual gems set in handcrafted sterling silver settings.

"Since winning the grant, my business has gained a lot of momentum creating custom work. Winning the award bolstered my reputation in such a way that people really trust me with their big jobs," Freedline said. "After winning, I was also able to get my foot in the door of the wholesale market by exhibiting at a larger, more costly wholesale venue."

Freedline recently split her business into two branches, adding a line of more casual materials and styles for a budget-friendly price point.

Layne Designs jewelry has appeared in Jewelry Artist Magazine and has been profiled by the Philadelphia Examiner and web sites and blogs including Fire Mountain Gems, Jewelry Observer, Hammermarks and Handmade in PA.

Layne Designs jewelry is available at fine craft shows, in a number of east coast galleries and on the Layne Designs website.

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2010 Winner - Cowboy's Sweetheart

The 2010 grant was awarded to Amy Fortunato of Boulder, Colo., for her Cowboy's Sweetheart jewelry line. Fortunato's sterling silver jewelry is loosely inspired by the American West and includes accents of semi-precious gemstones, copper, pearls and leather.

Not only did the grant money allow her to purchase a new computer and update her website to compete in the Wild West of e-commerce, it gave her a stronger business foothold.

"It has given my little business some street cred, commanding a level of respect in a very saturated market," Fortunato said. "My arm gets tired from switching hats so often, but it is the variety of responsibilities that makes this one-woman operation interesting. I enjoy building relationships with people by doing what I love, and the grant helped to spread that love!"

Cowboy's Sweetheart jewelry can be found on Fortunato's etsy site and has been featured in Southwest Flair magazine and the Boulder and the Beautiful and Daily Camera blogs.

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2009 Winner - VOSTENAKstudios

VOSTENAKstudios creator Valerie Ostenak of Cottonwood, Ariz., won the 2009 grant for her one-of-a-kind statement necklaces, hairpieces and earrings. Ostenak's work is inspired by fluid movement — the way water flows and the way air blows and moves things in the wind.

"What I really love about my work — other than making it makes me very happy — is that it makes others really happy, too. I can see the transformation when someone puts a piece on. They glow. They gleam. They have another light, " Ostenak said.

Ostenak, who works primarily in steel, silver and pearls, has been profiled in British Vogue, National Geographic and Art Jewelry Today. Ostenak's jewelry can be found in galleries in California and Arizona and was showcased by the Maria Elena Kravetz Gallery (Cordoba, Argentina) at the 2103 SSOFA Chicago Show.

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2008 Winner - Bridgland Studios DBA Glass Gurl

Mary Bridgland is an award winning glass artist, educator and entrepreneur. She is also the Founder and CEO of Glassgurl.com. Mary is a transgender advocate and former owner of bridglandstudios.com. Mary is also founder of houseofmodernart.com (HOMA) where she curates and sells a diverse collection of works online by prominent U.S artists leading their field in contemporary modern art.

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2007 Winner - Belle Brooke Designs

Artist Belle Brooke Barer won the 2007 grant while she was an artist in Los Angeles. Now based in Taos, N.M., her Belle Brooke Designs focuses on traditionally fabricated jewelry with an emphasis on craftsmanship. The look, she says, is a mix of modern, organic and geometric — with a nod to art deco designs.

Barer said the Halstead Grant gave her a boost of confidence and really started the ball rolling in the right direction. "The press was fantastic and I was able to take it to the next level once I had this special ‘seal of approval' from being a grant winner."

Since winning the grant, Belle Brooke Jewelry has been featured in a number of magazines, including MJSA/Journal, InDesign, JCK, and Jewelry Artist. Barer won the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award in 2008 and was the first place winner of the prestigious AGTA Spectrum Award in 2012.

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2006 Winner - Ananda Khalsa Jewelry

Ananda Khalsa was Halstead's first grant winner in 2006. The jewelry she creates in her Northampton, Mass., studio incorporates sterling silver and 22k gold, precious stones and tiny paintings. Khalsa captures the precious quality found in ancient jewelry, while creating work with a modern and wearable sensibility.

Since winning the inaugural Halstead grant, Khalsa has been profiled in Marie Claire magazine and as one of Martha Stewart's "Dreamers into Doers." Ananda Khalsa Jewelry is sold in galleries, shops, prestigious art shows and artist cooperatives around the country.

"It always amazes me how many different kinds of people wear my work," Khalsa said of her customers. "I feel very lucky for that. I think people who appreciate symbolism and see jewelry as more then just an object — perhaps in a more talismanic way — are attracted to the work."

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