New York—The Cultured Pearl Association of America’s annual International Pearl Design Competition is back for the ninth year, with some exciting new changes.

The CPAA announced that all winning pieces will participate in a retail tour store, where they will be available to the public for purchase.

The first stop is New York City’s Clay Pot, then designs will move to Minneapolis jewelry retailer Max’s. An additional store may be announced at a later date. Any pieces that don’t sell will be returned to the designer at the tour’s conclusion.

“I am very excited to have the winning designs from this year’s IPDC contest visit Max’s later this year,” owner Ellen Hertz said. “This will be a great opportunity to introduce our customers to some spectacular pieces that we wouldn’t normally have.”

The CPAA is also switching things up by creating two separate division: domestic and international.

International entries will only need to include sketches and renderings of pearl jewelry. Entries from the United States, meanwhile, will go through two phases.

In the first, designers will submit professional photographs of completed pieces, shot at between one and three angles.

Three finalists in each category--with the exception of the President’s Trophy, which will only have one finalist--will be notified and required to send their pieces to New York for the final judging.

On Nov. 1, the winning pieces will be announced and the retail store tour will commence. A cocktail reception will take place at the Clay Pot Nolita store that evening to celebrate the winners. (Tara Silberberg, Clay Pot owner, will act as one of the contest judges.)

The CPAA said two new categories have been added in 2018: the Spotlight Award to highlight one pearl variety, this year featuring the akoya, and the Popularity Award, which will see Instagram followers choose their favorite pieces from the CPAA account.

CPAA Executive Director Jennifer Heebner said, “I’m so pleased to help continue this great tradition of the IPDC and to further elevate it by connecting winning pieces with retailers who appreciate great design.”

The association is now accepting entries for the contest through Sept. 22.

Entries cost $175 for a single entry and $150 for each additional entry. Full information is available at

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