By Michelle Graff
Dallas--The American Gem Trade Association has released the names of the five judges for its annual Spectrum Awards, a colored gemstone and pearl jewelry design competition that also recognizes lapidary skills. 

The judges for the 2015 AGTA Spectrum Awards and the Cutting Edge Awards (for lapidarists) are Jeffrey Post, curator of the U.S. National Gem and Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian Institution; Joseph Mardkha, manufacturer at ColorMasters Precious Jewelry; Larry Pelzel, the vice president of the Precious Jewels division at Neiman Marcus; Tim McClelland, jeweler and designer at McTiegue & McClelland; and Jerrold Green, a lapidarist at Reginald C. Miller.

The judges

Post has been the curator of the Smithsonian’s gem and mineral collection since 1991. His areas of interest include mineralogy, gemology, geochemistry, crystallography and electron microscopy, and he has published more than 75 scientific articles in these fields. 

Mardkha founded ColorMasters Gem Corp. as a gemstone seller in 1981 and in the early 1990s expanded the business to include jewelry manufacturing. Now his company specializes in all aspects of high-end jewelry design, product development and manufacturing.

Pelzel has worked in the high-end luxury jewelry industry for more than 34 years, and began his career with Neiman Marcus in 1980 as a sales associate, working his way up to his current position of vice president and divisional merchandise manager of Precious Jewels. He oversees buying, promotions and advertising at the luxury department store’s flagship location in Dallas.

McClelland is half of the jewelry brand that is McTiegue & McClelland, which was formally established in 1998 in New York and now sells exclusively to its own clientele. Pieces from the brand have been included in publications such as Town & Country, Robb Report, W, Elle, Martha Stewart and The New York Times

Green studied classic jewelry making techniques at the Kulicke-Stark Institute and later learned stone cutting and polishing from gem importer Reginald Miller, eventually taking the reins of R.C. Miller Inc. in 1989, where he continues to carve precious stones. Gemologists, importers and collectors from around the world bring their gemstones to Green for carving.

The deadline for entry-form submissions for the 2015 AGTA Spectrum Awards is Sept. 19. Entry forms can be found on, and additional information is available by contacting Kami Swinney or Megan Whitmire at 800-972-1162.

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