The Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design is usually announced early in the year amid the glorious colors of the Tucson gem shows. This year, the fourth annual award was announced virtually during GIA’s Knowledge Rocks Week: Spring Into Color. Students and alumni gathered virtually for the celebration and announcement of the winner, Belle Sin Ting Wong, who earned her Jewelry Design certificate at the GIA Hong Kong school. Tune in for the full interview with this year’s winner:

More than 100 students competed to be finalists for the 2020 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design. The students’ designs were presented in their original, hand-rendered format, accompanied by statements identifying the materials used and the inspiration for each piece. The designs of nine finalists from seven GIA campuses were evaluated by peers, faculty and ultimately by a panel of distinguished judges – including Shelly Sargent, curator of the Somewhere in the Rainbow collection; Victoria Gomelsky, editor-in-chief of JCK Magazine; Alishan Halebian, owner and jewelry designer of Alishan; Alan Revere, award-winning jewelry designer, author and educator; and Remy Rotenier, owner and jewelry designer of Remy Rotenier.

“It is incredible that so many students managed to complete their Jewelry Design studies in 2020, despite the challenges of the global pandemic. Many of the beautiful, original designs that students created this year were inspired by themes of connection and community,” said Laurie Bailyn, senior manager of jewelry manufacturing arts, research & development.

Belle Sin Ting Wong’s winning design was a brooch inspired by the Siamese fighting fish. “I wanted to raise attention to environmental awareness with this piece… If we continue our toxic living habits and don’t use sustainable products, we might be very close to losing these beautiful creatures and quicken the pace of global warming,” she said.

Many of Belle Sin Ting Wong’s pieces are about storytelling, she strives to make objects that represent connections with others. Her whimsical jewelry collection “The Moment” uses children’s toys as a metaphor for building relationships between different groups of people though play.

“I didn’t imagine myself receiving this award, so it is something extra and a surprise. I was very honored and overwhelmed with joy when I watched the live video with my family. I would like to take this opportunity to thank GIA and the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation for offering the award. Knowing there was such a chance to win this award gave me extra motivation to do my very best on the projects,” said Sin Ting Wong.

The award was created with the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation in 2018 to recognize outstanding talent in design among GIA students. The 2021 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design competition is underway and open to students in GIA’s Jewelry Design courses who meet the eligibility requirements. For more information, visit

GIA’s Jewelry Design course teaches drafting, shading, design theory and illustration using several mediums. At the completion of the course, students have a hand-developed portfolio of their work and a digital copy. At select locations, GIA also offers courses in Jewelry Design & Technology and Comprehensive Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM).

2020 Winner Belle Sin Ting Wong, a graduate of the GIA jewelry design course in Hong Kong, was the winner of the 2020 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design. One of nine finalists from seven GIA schools, her winning design is a brooch featuring yellow and white gold, diamond, enamel, jadeite, pearl and sapphire. The design is inspired by the Siamese fighting fish. Photo by Emily Lane/GIA.