FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TORONTO WOMEN'S DESIGN COLLABORATION WINS THREE PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL JEWELLERY DESIGN AWARDS
Toronto, Canada, July 28th, 2021 – Anita Agrawal of Jewels 4 Ever (Aka Best Bargains Jewellery) and Anita Bhandari of Aarkish Diamonds win three international jewellery design awards, INSTORE magazine’s 2021 annual design contest. The duo won the following awards: Second place by the judges’ selection and also won the Retailer's Choice Award in the Best Earring Over $5,000 Category for their “Spring Goddess Earrings” and the Retailer's Choice Award in the Colored Stone Jewelry Over $5,000 Category for their “Blue Flame Pendant”, in the 2021 INSTORE Design Awards.
The INSTORE Design Awards are unique in that they incorporate a blind-judging component—1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each category are chosen by a handpicked group of top retailers and influencers. There’s also a separate voting guide, and online voting that decides a “Retailer’s Choice” winner for each category allowing retailers from across North America to see all of the top designs and select a winner.
Both second-generation jewellers and daughters of immigrant parents, Agrawal and Bhandari have a combined experience of 72 years in the jewellery industry. Their contrasting specialties, allowed for the duo to take bold steps in the design process. Jewels 4 Ever (Agrawal) specializes in affordable fine coloured stone jewellery and Aarkish Diamonds (Bhandari) specializes in high-end custom diamond jewellery.
The duo has tangentially known of each other for over 20 years, but this was their first collaboration. Their friendship and partnership were expedited by the global pandemic, when Bhandari, a board member of Fashion Group International Toronto (FGI Toronto), asked Agrawal to participate in an Instagram live session to discuss jewellery trends.
Of the recognition, Agrawal says “it’s an honour to be recognized as a small business owner and Canadian manufacturer. I’ve worked in this industry for so long, and both of us have made 1000’s of pieces, but it feels far more significant an achievement when other industry retailers select your designs.” Bhandari adds “We were up against legendary designers and multi-million-dollar businesses in this competition, such as Gabriel & Co, and Erica Courtney. So, there were a lot of very strong submissions”.
Agrawal and Bhandari are also grateful to the several local goldsmiths, artisans, CAD designer and stone setters that helped bring their creations to life. Agrawal says “This pandemic really highlighted the necessity of small businesses to come together and collaborate.” Bhandari adds “There is so much talent in this city”.
As for what’s next, the duo hopes to sell the two pieces and continue their collaboration on the several new pieces they are working on!
About Anita Agrawal: Agrawal’s company Best Bargains, has been in business since 1991 and this year celebrates 30 years. Her brand “Jewels 4 Ever” was founded in 2012 and exclusively focuses on the business’ low-cost Canadian-made gemstone jewellery line. Agrawal’s work has been featured in numerous national and international magazines and in 2019, she was invited to be a keynote speaker to the Bangkok International Gem and Jewellery Fair in Thailand. She currently hosts a YouTube video series called “CJ Designer’s Talk” in collaboration with Canadian Jeweller Magazine, showcasing talented jewellers from around the world. The show has amassed over 10,000 views in just 3 months. She is also a part-time professor at the School of Business at Centennial College.
Agrawal holds a Masters in Social Anthropology from Carleton University, a B.Sc. hon from the University of Toronto and a post graduate diploma in e-commerce from Centennial College.
About Anita Bhandari: An expert with over 30 years of experience in the jewellery industry, Bhandari comes from a long line of diamantaires and spent much of her formative years in the Antwerp diamond market. With her vast experience and knowledge of the trade, she made her way into the Toronto Diamond district where she founded Aarkish Diamonds Inc. in 2000. Bhandari is obsessed with fashion, jewellery and diamonds and celebrates this as a board member of the Fashion Group International – Toronto chapter. Bhandari holds a BBA from the European University in Barcelona. She is also an Hoge Raad Voor Diamant [HRD - Diamond High Council] Gemmologist and graduate of the International Gemological Institute.
14kt Green Gold Earrings set with 84 rare colour graduating alexandrite stones approximately 7.5cts, 2 large green Afghan Aquamarines, weighing 30.96cts, and several diamonds. Total Weight 30.96gms. Evaluated at $50,000 CDN
14kt White and Yellow Gold Pendant with over 18cts of natural sapphires and 0.73cts of natural yellow fancy diamonds. Total weight 35.7grams. Evaluated at $26,000 CDN
Links to the awards:
You can follow them on Instagram at @jewels4everca & @aarkishdiamonds
Link to the press release document: