By Ashley Davis

Japanese brand Kataoka won the Best in Diamonds Above $20,000 category with this ring at the 2019 Couture Design Awards.

Las Vegas—The annual Couture Design Awards are known for motivating designers to produce some of the jewelry trade show’s most spectacular pieces, and also for delivering a few surprises.

This year’s edition of the awards, held Saturday at the Encore Ballroom, was no exception.

The biggest surprise of the evening came at the very end—the awarding of the Cindy Edelstein Award to veteran industry publicist Michelle Orman, president of Last Word Communication, which handles public relations for the Couture and JA New York shows, and myriad other jewelry projects.

A beloved friend to brands, retailers and editors, Orman is known for going above and beyond to guide and support industry players, as individuals like Buddha Mama’s Nancy and Dakota Badia and Leyla Torre; designer Victor Velyan; The EAB Project’s Elizabeth Anne Bonanno; and Couture Show Director Gannon Brousseau explained in a video tribute.

Brousseau also noted that the most difficult part of deciding to award Orman the honor was to keep it a secret from the heavily involved, and all-knowing, publicist. (In the months leading up to the show, she had been told—as was the audience for the greater part of the evening—that Couture would not be giving out the Cindy Edelstein Award this year.)

The 2019 edition of the awards also ushered in the inaugural “WTF Award?!,” given to the biggest jewelry design fail, as submitted by the designers themselves.

Commemorated with a special medallion in which each winner’s name will be engraved, the first honor went to Stephen Webster for this necklace.

Winners for design successes included Jade Trau, Kataoka and Adam Foster Jewelry. See the full roster of winners and their work below.

Best in Debuting at Couture: Ara Vartanian
20190603 Ara

Best in Bridal: Jade Trau

20190603 jadetrau

Best in Haute Couture: Mike Joseph

20190603 Mike Joseph

Best in Innovative: Silvia Furmanovich

20190603 Silvia

Best in Men’s: Jan Leslie
20190603 Jan Leslie

Best in Colored Gemstones Above $20,000: Adam Foster Jewelry
20190603 AdamFoster

Best in Diamonds Above $20,000: Kataoka
20190603 kataoka

Best in Pearls: Karen Suen
20190603 Karen Suen

Best in Platinum: Jorg Heinz
20190603 Jorg Heinz

Best in Silver: Syna

20190603 Syna

Best in Colored Gemstones Below $20,000: Noor Fares

20190603 noorfares

Best in Diamonds Below $20,000: Baentelli

20190603 Baentelli

Best in Gold: Nikos Koulis

20190603 Nikos Koulis

Editor’s Choice: Lombardi (voted on by editors at Couture, originally entered in the Best in Diamonds Below $20,000 category)

20190603 Lombardi

People’s Choice: Gismondi 1754 (voted on by the audience via text at the awards, originally entered in Haute Couture category)

20190603 Gismondi