Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

NEIGHBORS >> Beebe jeweler wins design award

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

A bracelet and two pendants made by jeweler Lyn Edwards of Edwards’ Jewelry Bench in Beebe won three awards at the Arkansas Jewelers Association annual convention in Little Rock. The design competition is the Creative Achievement Recog-nizing Arkansas Talent (CARAT) awards.

The awards are given in four categories. Three prizes are given by independent judges based upon overall design, marketability, practicality/wearability and craftsmanship.

The fourth honor, the Convention Choice Award, is determined by a vote of those attending the convention.
The sterling silver bracelet Edwards made that won in the $1,000 and under category, along with the diamond pendant that won in the $1,000 to $3,000 category, were designed by Lori Blagg, president of the Arkansas Jewelers Association. She is the manager at Faye’s Diamond Mine in Clinton.

The white-and-yellow gold pendant Edwards made that won the $3,000 and above category as well as the Convention Choice award was designed by Faye Rodgers, owner of Faye’s Diamond Mine in Clinton. The pendant will now compete in the national Jewelers Association Design Competition in New York.
“We design the jewelry on paper and he puts the life into them,” Blagg said.
“We were flattered he put extra effort into making them winning pieces.”

It was Edwards’ first time making jewelry for the convention’s design competition.
“I felt a little bit like David and Goliath going into the competition,” Edwards said. Growing up as a Navy brat, he became interested in gemology from his mother, an earth sciences teacher. He first started making jewelry in 1973 for a high school art class.

“We melted down brass keys, and I made a heart-shaped ring for my mother,” he said.
After high school, Edwards started working at Parrish’s Jew-elry in Searcy. He moved to a jewelry store in Fayetteville and started buying the equipment to make jewelry at home.

“It was a cottage industry for me. I’d make jewelry just for recreation and then sell it at craft fairs at War Eagle Park and county fairs,” he said. Edward opened Edwards’ Jewelry Bench in North Little Rock and in 1996, moved the business to Beebe where business has been mixed.

“I’m in a luxury business and since 9/11 the economy has tightened,” he said.
Edwards, and his wife Trina, strive to be full service jewelers including repairing watches, and cleaning and repairing jewelry.

“If you can’t find it, we’ll make it,” he said.
The fashion of jewelry fluctuates between realism and abstract.
“Right now, there’s lots of attention to the sides and trellis settings under the stone,” Ed-wards explained.

“If you remember the 80s, there was a lot of nugget rings and realistic flower designs. Now the fashion is shape and color.”

Reluctant to drop names or prices, the largest jewelry item Edwards has worked on was a 15 and a half carat solitaire diamond engagement ring.

“In this business, I see princes and paupers and treat them all the same.”