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NZ Jeweller Wins Global Leadership Award

Inspired 450MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Chris Benham, co-founder of Wellington-based jewellery company, The Inspired Collection has won the global, JNA (Jewellery News Asia) Young Leader Award.

An international panel of eight judges honoured Mr Benham with the award before an audience of more than 450 guests at the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

Mr Benham says receiving the award is a real honour and that it is very humbling to receive such recognition.

“This award reflects the work of the entire Inspired Collection team’s fresh approach to jewellery design. We’ve been trading less than three years and already we’ve had terrific success all over the world. In such a competitive industry, this speaks volumes about our collaborative, design-driven approach.”

Mr Benham (30) took the award ahead of fellow nominees, L’ Dezen Jewellery Co Ltd (Hong Kong) and Leibish & Co Ltd (Israel).

Nicky Oppenheimer, former Chairman of the De Beers Group, was presented with The Awards’ highest accolade – the JNA Award for Lifetime Achievement – for his outstanding contribution to the world diamond industry over a career spanning 44 years.

The JNA Awards aim to recognise the best in the jewellery and gemstone trade around the world. The Awards honour the innovators and leaders in the jewellery industry, focusing on areas such as manufacturing, branding, retail, sustainability and outstanding contribution. 2012 sees the inauguration of the Awards.

The Award’s founder, Letitia Chow said the inaugural JNA Awards ceremony and gala dinner were a tremendous success.

“I am proud to announce that we have achieved our main goal to provide the industry with a benchmark for excellence and achievement,” says Ms Chow.

In the last 18 months, The Inspired Collection has won contracts in China, North America and throughout Australasia. It has recently secured a contract to design and create an exclusive collection for the Chinese market after being approached by major jewellery company, Hiersun. The resulting deal will see the new range feature in more than 300 of Hiersun’s ‘I Do’ branded stores throughout China.

Mr Benham, with his fellow-directors Ian Douglas and Christine Douglas also established the Wilshi brand (pronounced ‘will she?’) where they created the ‘Proposal Ring’. Wilshi brand rights have been successfully licensed in Australasia and the proposal rings are sold in more than 70 stores in five countries.

Established in December 2009, The Inspired Collection has an impressive list of achievements including winning the Gemological Institute of America’s supreme George A. Schuetz Award for Men’s Jewellery in 2010 and 2011, the supreme award in the New Zealand Jewellery Design Awards in 2009 and 2010 and Bronze Pins in the 2011 and 2012 Best Design Awards from the Design Institute of New Zealand.

Ian Douglas was a finalist in this year’s JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards and IU Design Awards.


For further information contact: Penny Hartill, Hartill Communications Ltd 09 445 7525, 021 721 424,

Ring 200Editor’s notes:
The Inspired Collection co-founded by Ian Douglas, Christine Douglas and Chris Benham is the international arm of The Village Goldsmith, founded by Ian Douglas 30 years ago. Both companies work closely together, with all of the jewellery designed locally in Wellington, New Zealand. The company’s design philosophy represents the experience and collaboration of a group of artisanal award winning jewellers. Inspired Jewellery specialises in world leading innovative jewellery design and provides its specialist design expertise and manufacturing experience to jewellery companies internationally. The company plans to grow its Wellington based design hub with The Village Goldsmith and continue to leverage its world-class designs internationally.

The Inspired Collection’s 2012 Best Design Awards Bronze Pin winning work: ‘Stellad’ ring.

About the JNA Awards
The JNA Awards is an industry-wide event that honours and recognises excellence and achievement in the jewellery trade. The inaugural Awards ceremony and gala dinner has been held on September 20, 2012, during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

The event, the first of its kind in Asia was organised by Jewellery News Asia ( of UBM Asia in collaboration with UBM Awards.