10 Jewelry Making Contests and Challenges

Jan 22, 2014

It's easy for me to get into a rut and use the same beads and materials over and over.  Or worse, sometimes I feel paralyzed and unable to create anything at all.  Do you ever feel that way, too?  If so, you might want to enter a jewelry making contest or challenge.  A contest, challenge, or blog hop can force you to move beyond your comfort zone.  You might need to use new-to-you materials, create for different themes, or complete a design in a short period of time. There's a wide range of opportunities available.  Some contests are judged by prestigious judges, while others may ask readers to vote for the best project.  Some may award a prize by random drawing or offer no prizes at all.  Some require entry fees; others are free.  Read the rules carefully to make sure you're eligible and that you're comfortable with the requirements.  Not every contest or challenge may be the best one for you. Remember, even if you don't win, you'll have created something new and wonderful. 

Note: Remember to check the official rules of any contest or challenge for specific details on how to enter.  Deadlines and other details may have changed since this blog post was written.  I do not have any affiliation with these contests and challenges.

Downton Abbey Challenge
Deadline: January 26, 2014
Sponsored by Bello Modo, this challenge asks for designs that use Vintaj components to create a design inspired by the popular Downton Abbey TV show.Winter Bracelet by Michelle Mach

Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge
Deadline: January 31, 2014
This challenge uses a specific piece of art for inspiration and requires the use of handmade art beads.  For January, the inspiration piece is a textile by Lois Mailou Jones.  It's a monthly challenge, so if you miss this one, check the blog for the next challenge theme.  (The bracelet shown here is one I made for an Art Bead Scene challenge several years ago.)

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads: Metal
Deadline: January 31, 2014
The current contest theme includes the use of metal clay, metal beads, wire, chain, jump rings, and other findings.  Upcoming contest themes this year include seed beads and Swarovski crystals.

Uncommon Goods Jewelry Design Challenge
Deadline: January 31, 2014
Design jewelry using any medium that's "safe and animal-friendly" in this monthly contest with a $1,000 grand prize.

Paracord Contest
Deadline: March 3, 2014
Paracord is lightweight parachute cord that typically comes in bright colors.  This is not a jewelry-only contest, but as you can see from the current entries, jewelry can be submitted.

Bead Dreams
Deadline: March 25, 2014
Enter your work in one of these categories in this annual juried contest: flower beads, handmade buttons and beads, wirework, finished jewelry, crystal jewelry, lampwork, metal clay, seed bead jewelry, objects and accessories, and polymer clay.  There is a $50 entry fee.

Fashion Colorworks Contest
Deadline: June 15, 2014
Use a palette of fashionable spring Pantone colors to create your jewelry design. 

10th International Ugly Necklace Contest
Deadline: August 31, 2014
You read that right!  This is a contest looking for the best ugly necklace.

Bead Soup Party
Deadline: TBD (date has not been set at the time of this blog post)
This popular annual blog hop hosted by Lori Anderson pairs up hundreds of beaders from around the world.  Jewelry makers trade beads and share photos of their finished jewelry designs online.

Inspired by Reading Blog Hop
Deadline: Varies (monthly)
For this blog hop hosted by Andrew Thornton, you'll need to read this month's book and create a piece inspired by it. The book for January 2014 is The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. The reading list for 2014/2015 is available for those who like to plan ahead.

Please share other upcoming contests, challenges, and blog hops in the comments.  Also, I'm helping out with the Inside Jewelry Stringing Magazine blog through April.  If you have suggestions for topics, I'd love to hear them.  Thank you!

~Michelle Mach, Contributing Editor, Jewelry Stringing

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ArdentTie wrote
on Jan 22, 2014 1:54 PM

Thanks for spreading the love about the Inspired by Reading Blog Hop!  We've been so fortunate to put together such an awesome crew of participants!

on Jan 22, 2014 2:01 PM

I agree! Whenever I need a swift kick in the creativity I look for a challenge, preferably one that pushes my limits. I always learn the most from those and also find new friends to follow!

I host quarterly challenges on my blog Treasures Found (treasures-found.blogspot.com) that center around themes. The next one will have sign ups in February with the Challenge of Music; Challenge of Literature in May; Challenge of Travel in August; and the 5th annual Challenge of Color in November. Anyone is welcome to join, and there are twists to the theme that will certainly challenge you! Enjoy the day! Erin

on Jan 22, 2014 3:17 PM

Challenges are always a good way to get us out of our comfort zone.  I try to do  several during the year and always enjoy them so much!  The designs are amazing and so are the participants!

on Jan 25, 2014 6:26 PM

Here is another monthly contest, based on themes...


on Jan 25, 2014 6:26 PM

Here is another monthly contest, based on themes...


RED_Beads wrote
on Jan 25, 2014 7:22 PM

The Bead Society of Victoria has an annual Bead Challenge. Each participant receives an identical kit of beads and must use all of those beads, plus whatever else they want to use. There are substantial cash prizes, and a popular vote and a judged section. Open to all, but entrants must pay postage for their entry to Melbourne and return. The kits will be available from March. You can see past winners here: www.beadsociety.com.au/challenge.html

Valbeads wrote
on Jan 26, 2014 2:13 AM

I'm doing a beading challenge on BD right now!  We were all given a specific palette of colors  and told to design jewelry around that.  For me, that is a challenge, as it is A) a limited palette and B) colors I don't ordinarily work with.  So I had a number of false starts before I finally had the "lightbulb over the head" moment and am now industriously beading away. My strengths are stringing and wire working, and most of my forum friends bead sew or bead weave, but any method is acceptable.  Due to an accident, I only have 15% range of motion in my working thumb; not enough dexterity to hold and stitch with a needle.  But I can do plenty of other things!

Debbie.Blair wrote
on Jan 27, 2014 11:36 AM

And, don't forget to enter Beadwork's 2014 Bead Star contest. We've just opened it up to entries, and will be accepting through May 23rd. Visit www.beadingdaily.com/.../BeadStar.aspx for full details!

on Feb 1, 2014 7:29 PM

Well, I think I will enter A Touch of Sparkle´╗┐ in one of the remaining contests to see how I do. Which one? I think the ugliest necklace is a funny one, but then again....do I want #SparkleByMonica to be known for offering an ugly item up for display? I think not! hahaha. My fellow beaders may enjoy this blog post, so Ill share on FB and Twitter. Thanks for compiling the contests. www.sparklebymonica.com.