TCJ Designs, an independent high street jeweller, set in the heart of historic York, England, has been designing and creating jewellery since 1987. Last year, James Powell a designer from TCJ designs was awarded a 'Celebration of Life' jewellery design award from the Tanzanite Foundation.

Close up of birds - TCJ designs

About the foundation

The tanzanite foundation

The Tanzanite Foundation, a non-profit organisation, actively promotes environmentally friendly mining of Tanzanite as well as ethical business practices and community re-investment. With a finite supply of Tanzanite expected to last just one generation, Tanzanite is 1,000 times rarer than diamonds.

Sourced from the foothills of Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania it is unique among gemstones for its extraordinary multi-dimensional colour, radiating a kaleidoscope of royal blue, violet and periwinkle.

The foundation's trademark, 'Be Born to Tanzanite' stems from the Maasai affinity with the sacred colour blue, the symbol of fertility and new life. Maasai women who have given birth wear vibrant blue-violet beads and fabrics to signify their motherhood, and to give the newborn child a positive and successful life. This tradition is now honoured in a modern tradition: the giving of tanzanite on the birth of a baby.

James and his award

About the competition

The Tanzanite foundation decided to hold a competition with 5 categories: Luxury Brands, Independent Designers, Manufacturers, Fashion Accessories and Rising Stars. Judges from the Tanzanite Foundation selected 21 winners based on the beauty and originality of the design as well as the interpretation of the theme 'Be Born to Tanzanite'.

Competing against jewellery designers and manufacturers from over 20 countries, James, 23, took home a rising star award for his humming birds necklace on the 22nd January in New York's Public Library. Before joining TCJ Designs James had done two years at the internationally acclaimed Central St Martins College of Art in London.

The winning piece

James inspiration for this piece was the traditional motif of a stork delivering a baby but instead of a stork he decided on "Two exotic and ethereal hummingbirds that hover watchfully over the magic of life and their precious cargo." Once James had sketched his design it was made into a PDF and imported directly into ArtCAM JewelSmith.

Birds in wax and being set

Within ArtCAM, James was able to neaten up the lines of the drawing before creating the height, depth and detail to his design. He started by creating just one of the humming birds and believes that:

Having relief layers and the capability to create both the front and back of the design in the same file made creating the hollowed humming birds quick and simple."

After creating the left-hand side of his hummingbird design, ArtCAM JewelSmith simply mirrored this to create the right.

During the design stages, ArtCAM's simplicity and flexibility meant that the model's size and weight could be relayed back to the designer prior to manufacture, allowing them to make any necessary changes without incurring additional costs, such as the ability to scale down the size of the birds to 2/3rd s of the original size.

The original design and finished piece

Using ArtCAM's gem setting tools, he was then able to take the dimension of the tanzanite and diamonds and create the settings and grains to securely hold them in place.

Together with Carl Johnson, TCJ owner and James's mentor, James has combined traditional craftsmanship, and innovative techniques to go from the initial design process through to the manufacturing of the final piece.

The outcome was a stunning necklace made of pave set humming birds with 6.68cts of tanzanite, 6.70cts of iolite and diamonds hanging on a diamond necklace with a total carat weight of 5.65cts and made entirely of 18ct white gold. A stunning 26.63ct pear shape tanzanite drop represents the newborn sitting at the navel next to the womb.

For more information on TCJ Designs please visit their website -