The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has announced the winner of its 2020 Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design.

The GIA usually gives the award at an in-person ceremony near the beginning of each year but, due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, has given the award in a virtual ceremony as part of its Knowledge Rocks Week event.

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 and beat more than 100 fellow students to the award.

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The designs of nine finalists from seven GIA campuses were evaluated by peers, faculty and ultimately by a panel of distinguished judges.

Laurie Bailyn, senior manager of jewellery manufacturing arts, research and development, said: “It is incredible that so many students managed to complete their jewellery 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.”

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.