Chris Benham, co-founder of Wellington-based jewellery companyThe Inspired Collection has won the global, JNA (Jewellery News Asia) Young Leader Award. An international panel of eight judges honoured Chris with the award before an audience of more than 450 guests at the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

Chris said receiving the award was a real honour and that it was 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."

Thirty-year-old Chris 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 the course of 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.

The Award's founder, Letitia Chow said 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," said 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.

View diamond rings by The Inspired Collection and The Village Goldsmith.