By Michelle Graff
The work of Spanish artist Joan Miró inspired this one-off pendant from Loriann Jewels’ “Organique” collection. It features, from bottom to top, a custom-cut amethyst, Ethiopian opal and fire opal in a 14-karat rose gold setting on a 14-karat rose gold chain ($2,500 retail).
New York--Loriann Jewelry, the namesake brand of Connecticut-based Lori Ann Friedman, has been named the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year.

Now in its 40th year, the award is given out annually at the summer JA New York show to one of the exhibitors showing in the New Designer Gallery. Votes cast by retailers, editors and past gallery participants determine the winner.

The award is named for the late Mort Abelson, the former director of the show who conceived of a space for emerging artists only. Designers who exhibited in the gallery when they were new include David Yurman, Katy Brunini, Alex Sepkus and Paula Crevoshay.

The most recent winners of the Mort Abelson award were Alexis Kletjian (2016) and Jocelyn Prestia, whose brand is called Unhada (2015).

Friedman, whose first career was as a graphic designer and art director for an engineering company, said she started in jewelry about 15 years ago, collecting gemstones and then taking a class on jewelry-making in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Her ultimate goal, at first, was to get into Mitchell Stores, a still-family-owned retailer that’s been in business since 1958 in Westport, Connecticut, where Friedman lives. (Second-generation owner Jack Mitchell is the author of the business bestseller “Hug Your Customers.”)

Friedman said she achieved that goal but, now, is taking her line a step further by using the same organic-looking gemstones but graduating from her primarily silver “Water & Ice” collection to her first collection completely in gold--14 karat--with diamond pave and rubies.

She designs the pieces then has them made, some overseas and some in New York.

Friedman said her ultimate goal in designing is not to follow a trend but to mirror people’s lifestyle today, which tends to be more casual.

“I wanted a line that people can wear every day,” she told National Jeweler at the show shortly after accepting the award.

In addition to designing jewelry, Friedman also paints watercolors--which she said taught her to be more experimental with color--and she mixes the two mediums on her company’s Instagram account and Facebook page.

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