Two people were awarded Jewellery Apprentice of the Year in TAFE Queensland’s annual design competition. It’s the first in the 18-year history of the training institution that dual winners were awarded the top honour.
Brock Hodgson and Paul Armstrong, fourth-year apprentices from TAFE’s South Bank campus, scored a tie and were both awarded the Apprentice Jeweller of the Year – an awards program celebrating the talents and creativity of graduates for Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacturing.
Armstrong was also given the best overall design award and best design folio award, while the best technical aspects award went to Hodgson.
Armstong completed an apprenticeship at Hogans Family Jewellers, while Hodgson worked at Stephen Dibb Jewellery.
According to Jackie French, director of faculty creative arts and digital design, presenting two awards based on a tie was a total surprise for the judges.
“The judges and I were blown away by the quality of everyone’s jewellery, particularly considering how disruptive COVID has been on everyone’s studies,” French said, acknowledging the creativity and dedication of the winners by making stunning pieces even as they are just starting in the industry.
“Everyone was amazed by the range of talent entering the industry – it’s inspiring, particularly when jewellery manufacturing, like all manufacturing, has been impacted during COVID.”
“As we continue to recover from the pandemic, and consumers return and drive demand in the jewellery industry, TAFE Queensland must provide its apprentices with the skills they need to be employable now and well into the future,” French added.
For his winning pieces, Armstrong made a signet ring with diamond and gold inlays and a pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lenses highlighted with gems and gold inlays in each arm of the frame, paired with matching cufflinks.
On the other hand, Hodgson crafted an intricate handmade set composed of a ring, pendant, and bracelet.
“I have loved my block training through TAFE Queensland,” Hodgson said. “My teacher is so helpful and knowledgeable when demonstrating technical aspects of jewellery manufacturing.
“The on-campus training blocks were so important for learning techniques that you don’t learn at work. My classmates were also jewellery apprentices, and being able to discuss what we were learning was a great aspect of the training.”
Armstrong had similar sentiments: “We all come from different backgrounds, different areas of the industry and have different career trajectories, so we share and learn a lot when we’re together.
“During every training block, we fine-tuned our skills by learning different methods and techniques. Our teachers were also supportive and encouraging every time we began learning a new facet of jewellery making.”
Competition entrants were each provided four weeks to design and create three jewellery pieces based on specific criteria and should fit with a unique theme.
This year’s theme was “Reflections” and judging based on quality, artistry, strength, durability and wearability of designs and the overall quality of the finish.
The rising star award runner-up went to Stefanie Cleeton, while Hogan Family Jewellers and Stephen Dibb Jewellery were awarded as employers of the Queensland Jewellery Apprentice of the Year.
Other award winners include:
• Rising Star Award – Declan Stewart
• Rising Star Award Runner Up – Stefanie Cleeton
• Best Overall Design Award – Paul Armstrong
• Best Technical Aspects Award – Brock Hodgson
• Best Design Folio Award – Paul Armstrong
• Queensland Jewellery Apprentice of the Year Award – Paul Armstrong & Brock Hodgson
• Employer of the Queensland Jewellery Apprentice of the Year – Stephen Dibb Jewellery
• Employer of the Queensland Jewellery Apprentice of the Year – Hogan Family Jewellers
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