By Ashley Davis
The “Blue Nectar” ring from Ark Fine Jewelry features a hand-cut, blue Indian moonstone set in 18-karat yellow gold and accented with white diamond pave. It retails for $4,348. The designer, Ann Korman, is pictured at right.
New York--Less than a year since the inaugural competition, “The Next Now” has declared a winner of its second edition.

Out of 32 finalists, Ark Fine Jewelry took home top honors last Wednesday at Tumblr headquarters in New York, where judging for The Next Now was held.

Designer Ann Korman said she was wasn’t expecting to win and felt “overwhelmed and grateful that people related to the work.”

“I know that the competition was started to support emerging designers, to give them a platform and to share their work and see what we as designers are doing, which I think is so important,” Korman told National Jeweler.

The Next Now is the brainchild of Dallas jewelry store Ylang 23 and Trendseeder, a kind of emerging brand incubator.

A panel of judges, including editors and designers, selected Korman as the winner, and she’ll receive mentorship, a meeting with the Barneys jewelry buying team and an order from Ylang 23, among other benefits.

20170502 NextNowArk insertPictured from left to right: Ann Korman, the designer of Ark Fine Jewelry and the winner of this year’s “The Next Now” competition, Kirsty Stone, the designer of Retrouvai and last year’s “The Next Now” winner, Ylang 23’s Joanne Teichman and Alysa Teichman

“Many of The Next Now’s judges approached me individually to tell me how much they loved Ark Fine Jewelry,” said Alysa Teichman, vice president of business development at Ylang 23. “I am personally thrilled that we will be placing an order of Ann’s pieces and carrying her line at Ylang 23. I think our customers will love the freshness and quality of the pieces.”

For Korman, Ylang 23 will be her very first retail account.

“I’m really excited to be working with the team at Ylang 23 and to get the line in the marketplace so people can actually start wearing it,” she said.

Ark may be newly launched, but the line represents the culmination of many of Korman’s passions that she has developed over time.

Korman’s background encompasses fine art (specifically painting), some work in fashion at Condé Nast and as a freelance stylist. She’s worked more recently in the nutrition and wellness industries and as a yoga teacher.

Despite a lifelong interest in jewelry, it was the latter aspects of her career that actually got her directly involved in the medium, when a guru whom Korman met during her yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India asked her to collaborate on a line of jewelry with him.

Korman worked on the line for three years, traveling back and forth between India and her home base in Los Angeles, then immersed herself in the downtown Los Angeles jewelry district, doing some private label work for various brands.

Finally, Korman began work on her own line, which despite only making its first appearance on Instagram last November, gained notice quickly enough to land the designer a spot in JA’s New Designer Gallery this spring.

Korman says she is inspired by travels all over the world with her family, as well as the energetic properties of different stones, a concept she learned from her guru in Rishikesh.

She has so far gravitated toward mine-cut, French-cut and Herkimer diamonds, moonstones and light blue sapphires, though she is branching out into different colors and gemstones in some of her works in progress. “I’m actually doing a new piece with aquamarine and a new piece with minty-green tourmaline,” she said.

Korman hopes that each of her pieces can communicate a meaningful and empowering energy to its wearer.

“While I’m creating my jewelry, the aim is to give people something that is not only beautiful to wear but to keep them going and to empower them and uplift them,” she said, explaining that her work as a nutritionist, which connected her with clients all over the world, showed her how much people “needed inspiration and something to empower themselves.”
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She continued, “I want to put a lot of intention behind each piece.”

This intention manifests in the form of style names that reference the supernatural or otherworldly--names like Halo, Creation and Mystic--and a visual presence that is at once ethereal and bold.

“Ann’s jewelry merges so well sentiment, color and beautiful production,” Teichman emphasized.

As for Korman’s intention for the future of Ark Fine Jewelry, the designer has set a wise goal for herself.

“What I really want to do is define my line so that in 30 years if you see something by me, you would recognize it,” she explained. “My goal is to make amazing pieces of jewelry that stand out as being my designs and nobody else’s and to find my voice as an artist.”

The Next Now’s purpose is to help her hone that vision; Korman’s already been advised to change her brand name from her original moniker, Ark Jems, to the less confusing Ark Fine Jewelry--advice that Korman quickly heeded.

Korman is ready to continue on her brand’s journey and believes in the power of perseverance.

She said: “My winning this is just an example of what happens if you just keep staying committed to your goals and to your vision. And to just keep at it.”

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