Events & Awards

And the New Designer of the Year Award Goes To …

Events & AwardsJul 17, 2018

And the New Designer of the Year Award Goes To …

Kathleen Sleigh, who created a mirror-centric line of fine jewelry she’s called Darsana.

For her line, Darsana, Kathleen Sleigh comes up with a name for each individual piece and includes an insert card letting the buyer know the inspiration behind it. This piece is called “Hesed,” which is an ancient word that means loving kindness (14-karat yellow gold with diamonds and a slice of antique reproduction mirror, retail $1,575).

New York—A passage in a book and a piece of jewelry made for a milestone birthday served as the inspirations for the winner of this year’s Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award.

Named in honor of Abelson, the former show director who came up with the idea for having an area for emerging designers, the award is presented annually at the JA New York show to a designer who’s exhibiting at her or his first jewelry trade show.

This year’s winner was Kathleen Sleigh, the woman behind Darsana. The Chicago-area resident beat out the nine other designers exhibiting at the summer show edition of the New Designer Gallery, which is curated by show consultant Liz Kantner, to win the award.

Sleigh officially launched her line in 2014 but the concept behind it had its genesis in 2012 when her eldest daughter, Lucy, was turning 18.

At the time, Sleigh was reading “The Naked Now” by Richard Rohr and was struck by his description of a walking meditation using a mirror medallion as a way of both receiving and reflecting God’s love and beauty.

“I just thought that was such a beautiful concept,” she said an interview at her booth Monday at the jewelry trade show.

The passage gave Sleigh an idea for a special gift she could give to Lucy.

As a longtime interior designer, she had many pieces of antique mirror lying around her Chicago-area home. She took one piece to her local jeweler and had him make a circular pendant stamped with an eye on one side and set with the antique mirror on the other; it was symbolic of both seeing and reflecting love.

And that was that for two years, until she had an idea that the pendant she had made for Lucy could be a larger business, which is how Darsana—a spiritual term that means “the essence of being beheld in love while beholding with love”—came to be.

Sleigh found a goldsmith and, via her interior design connections, a custom-maker of antique reproduction mirrors in Chicago (using actual antique mirrors was out of the question for a number of reasons, including supply availability, their thickness and the fact that many contain mercury).

She started having pendants made according to her specifications, later adding rings and pieces set with thicker chunks of faceted mirror, specially cut by a gentleman in North Carolina.

Price points

for her 14-karat gold, diamond and mirror-set pieces, which she commissions through a factory in New York City but are made overseas, range from $675 to just under $3,000 retail.

She sells her jewelry both online and via a few retail stores but is looking to add more, which is why she is exhibiting at her first jewelry trade show this summer in New York.

The exhibitors of the 2018 JA New York Summer show’s New Designer Gallery pose together after the presentation of the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award Monday afternoon. Winner Kathleen Sleigh is in the front row, at center; to her right is Liz Kanter, the consultant who curates the gallery for the show.

Accepting the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award Monday afternoon, Sleigh said it was “completely unexpected” and complimented the nine other designers exhibiting alongside her in the New Designer Gallery.

“I am blown away by the talent,” she said, adding that her fellow exhibitors were “lovely women” who had “beautiful designs.”

The Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award is presented annually at the JA New York Summer show. The award is now in its 41st year.

Past winners include Lori Ann Friedman and Alexis Kletjian, who recently opened her own store in Pennsylvania.

The JA New York Summer show wraps up Tuesday at the Javits Center in New York.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

The Latest

MajorsNov 29, 2022
LVMH Acquires Jewelry Manufacturer Pedemonte Group

The strategic acquisition will bolster the luxury titan’s production capacity in its watch and jewelry division.

CollectionsNov 29, 2022
Alex and Ani Founder Carolyn Rafaelian Has Launched a Fine Jewelry Line

The new brand, Metal Alchemist, focuses on unisex, classic jewelry designs.

IndependentsNov 29, 2022
Reinhold Jewelers’ Holiday Book Is an Ode to an Important Beverage

The 2022 edition of the retailer’s annual publication pays homage to the coffee farms and shops of Puerto Rico.

Brought to you by
Knowledge and Skills for Today’s Hot Topics

From laboratory-grown diamonds to design to country-of-origin, GIA's Alumni Collective™ has a seminar to suite your needs.

CollectionsNov 29, 2022
Gabriel & Co.’s ‘Fashion Book’ Is Out

Not a catalog, the magazine is a tool for Gabriel & Co. retailers to connect with their customers.

Weekly QuizNov 18, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
MajorsNov 29, 2022
Claire’s to Open Shop-in-Shops in Select U.S. Macy’s Stores

The partnership brings Claire’s jewelry and accessories to 20 Macy’s locations in time for the holiday season.

MajorsNov 28, 2022
Pomellato’s New Videos Raise Awareness of Violence Against Women

Starring CEO Sabina Belli and other celebrities, the videos emphasize the importance of supporting women who have experienced abuse.

Brought to you by
Diamond Shoppers’ 2022 Holiday Wish List

Give your customers the best diamond buying experience this holiday season.

IndependentsNov 28, 2022
Bert Kalisher, an Industry Veteran Who Loved Making Connections, Dies at 97

Kalisher started out manufacturing watch bands and later got into publishing, authoring two books and serving as publisher of Chronos.

MajorsNov 28, 2022
The Kingswood Co. Is One of U.S.’s Fastest-Growing Companies Again

The jewelry cleaner manufacturer jumped up to No. 3066 on the Inc. 5000 list.

AuctionsNov 23, 2022
This Sapphire Tiara Once Owned by a Danish Princess Is Going to Auction

The Dec. 1 jewelry sale at Bonhams-owned Bruun Rasmussen will have several other pieces of royal jewelry on the block.

FinancialsNov 23, 2022
Movado Lowers Guidance Amid ‘Uncertain’ Retail Environment

Its Q3 sales dipped as inflation took its toll on shoppers in the U.S. and Europe.

MajorsNov 23, 2022
De Beers Jewellers Is Popping Up in Connecticut

The temporary store is the result of a collaboration with Betteridge.

CollectionsNov 23, 2022
Piece of the Week: Rembrandt’s Turkey Charm

Charm fans will gobble up this festive “Piece of the Week” pick.

AuctionsNov 22, 2022
Jewelry Recovered from Sunken ‘Ship of Gold’ Heads to Auction

The S.S. Central America sank in 1857 off the coast of South Carolina, carrying tons of gold from the California Gold Rush.

IndependentsNov 22, 2022
See the Greek Jewels Going to Auction for Charity

Several Greek jewelry designers have donated pieces to the annual Hellenic Initiative silent auction.

SourcingNov 22, 2022
Head of Australian Miner Burgundy Diamond Resigns

The company announced the resignation of Peter Ravenscroft late last week, effective immediately.

SourcingNov 21, 2022
Provenance Proof Launches Online Marketplace for Traceable Gems

Debuting today, it is open to Provenance Proof blockchain users.

TechnologyNov 21, 2022
Version 2.0 of the NDC’s ‘Assure’ Directory Is Now Live

Assure is the program the Natural Diamond Council launched in 2019 to test lab-grown diamond screening devices.

MajorsNov 21, 2022
JK Findings Acquires Intercept Silver & Jewelry Care

Intercept Silver & Jewelry Care distributes anti-corrosion and anti-tarnish products.

MajorsNov 21, 2022
David Yurman Just Opened a Palm Beach Outpost

It’s located on famed shopping street Worth Avenue.

EditorsNov 18, 2022
9 of My Favorite Pieces from the AGTA Spectrum Awards Editors’ Day

Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator’s highlights include a chrome tourmaline ring, a giant opal necklace, and an American mined stone.

CrimeNov 18, 2022
Jewelry Store Security Guard Killed in Armed Robbery

Police in Calumet City, Illinois are looking for several suspects involved in the robbery of a jewelry store in the River Oaks Mall.

MajorsNov 18, 2022
AGS Adds Sumit Dangi to Board of Directors

Dangi is global chief financial officer and treasurer at Jewelers Mutual Group.

CollectionsNov 18, 2022
Piece of the Week: Tabayer’s ‘Oera’ Pendant

The brand’s signature shape is rendered in an autumn-appropriate color palette.

GradingNov 17, 2022
GIA Labs Report Receiving 2 Moissanites Submitted as Diamonds

The discoveries were outlined in the Lab Notes section of the fall 2022 issue of Gems & Gemology.

MajorsNov 17, 2022
Boucheron’s Magical Holiday Campaign Has Landed

“Boucheron Wonderland” showcases best-selling styles, high jewelry, and some familiar faces.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy