By Hannah Connorton
New York--Jocelyn Prestia, the woman behind Unhada, was recognized with the 2015 Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award, presented to her Monday at the JA New York Summer show.

072815 New-Designer-ArticleNew Designer Gallery coordinator Cindy Edelstein, left, with Unhada founder and New Designer of the Year award winner Jocelyn Prestia.New York-based Unhada’s pieces are 18-karat gold with colored gemstones, mostly one-of-a-kind works featuring stones such as spinel, garnet, amethyst, moonstone and tanzanite.

Prestia started Unhada while she was an expat in Bangkok, where she lived after studying at the Gemological Institute of America in New York.

“I’m in total shock,” Prestia said as she accepted the award. “All my life I believed in fairy tales and translating them to real life, and this is a fairy-tale moment for me. This has been an amazing experience and to be with all these new designers (in the New Designer Gallery) is amazing.”

Given annually, the New Designer of the Year Award is named for the late Mort Abelson, who is credited with coming up with the idea of creating a platform that introduces up-and-coming designers to the mainstream market--the JA New York Summer show’s New Designer Gallery. David Yurman, Penny Preville and Steven Kretchmer all are past recipients of the award.

Designers and brands are only eligible for the award when exhibiting in the New Designer Gallery pavilion, which included 10 brands this year.

Monday’s ceremony marked the 38th presentation of the award.

“This is my favorite five minutes of the year,” said Cindy Edelstein, coordinator of the New Designer Gallery and president of the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau. “I’ve been working with these 10 new designers for months … they’re all awesome. A secret panel voted on all of the designs, and this year (it) was neck-and-neck.”

Cleveland, Ohio-based TAP by Todd Pownell was the winner of last year’s New Designer of the Year Award.

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