An Uncustomary Request

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Creative freedom and some unusual pearls helped create Brenda Smith’s award-winning necklace

By John Shanahan

Let’s say you are given 27 of the largest freshwater, cultured, round pearls in the world, and told that you can make anything you want with them as long as it’s a necklace. Other than that, what you do with them is left up to you and your vision. Tempting? That’s exactly how Brenda Smith, a jewelry designer from Atlanta, got her start on creating her Vision Awards Custom Distinction winning piece. Featuring pearls ranging from 18 to 21.5 mm in size, the 18k gold necklace with sapphire and diamond accents was a commission for Somewhere in the Rainbow, a not-for-profit collection used for education about the highest standards of mining, cutting, designing, and crafting of jewelry and gemstones. The collection’s curator approached Smith at the 2016 AGTA Tucson Gem Show based on her success in designing with pearls.