WJA’s DIVA Awards have helped many budding jewelry designers get closer to their goals. Now in its seventh year, the annual national design competition is open to WJA members and nonmembers.

"We want to promote women designing and also promote WJA as an outlet for women who may not know another way to get their work out there," said Susan Elliott, who is co-chair of the DIVA Awards Committee. "Some of the people who enter are working in stores and some are working in manufacturing and other sectors."

Each year, there is a theme that applicants adhere to when developing their designs. Budding designers submit either a sketch or rendering to five judges and winners are awarded cash and trophies.

The competition for the awards is getting stiff. Last year, for example, there were more than 100 entries for the theme "Expressions of America." The winner, Shinka Kimura of Long Island City, N.Y., won for her bracelet inspired by the Constitution, as well as a trophy and $2,500 cash award.

This year’s theme is more lighthearted and is based on the motif of Las Vegas, according to Elliot, who said that each year the five judges for the awards are picked from all over the industry, and has included photographers and design instructors as well. After the winners are chosen, a gala event is held during the JCK Show in Las Vegas in late May where the winners are announced.

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