As the biggest French company in the sector, Essilor tends to get a SILMO Gold Award each time. In addition to wresting the OLA Award of Excellence for best lens design at the annual fair of the Optical Laboratories Association in the USA through its Varilux Ellipse model, it got two SILMO Gold Awards at the latest edition of the Paris show. One was for Essilor's new ?anti-fatigue? glass in the lens category, and the other one for its Kappa CTD in the equipment category, where it shared the honor with Opti 3 and its Logic Drill.

The new ?anti-fatigue? glass, which corrects micro-fluctuations at the end of the day for near vision, has been introduced in France and Canada and will be gradually rolled out in other countries in Europe and the USA in 2006, a year which will also see the launch of a new high-end line of Varilux progressive lenses, this time based on free-form technology.

As usual, French firms collected a large number of awards. Marcolin, whose chief executive runs the MIDO show in Milan, was the only Italian company that decided to compete in the annual event. However, half of the eight Golden SILMO Awards awards went to foreign firms. BOZ of Holland won the frame style award with its Genius model, Eschenbach Optik got an award for My Reader in the low-vision segment, and Johnson & Johnson got it for its Acuvue Advance contact lens. Here are the other winners:

Herrlicht Holzbrillen is a German one-man eyewear operation that had sold only about 70-80 frames since the start of 2005 by the time it won the Golden SILMO Award for the technologically most innovative frames. Its frames, which come in three styles and in six colors, are made completely out of wood, all the way down to the most minute details ? there is no metal or plastic on them. The frames come in three styles and each is available in five different colors: light and dark maple, light and dark cherry, and black.

On the day of the SILMO d'Or Awards, Andreas Licht, who is the company's manufacturer and founder, chuckled as he told Eyewear Intelligence that he uses toothpicks for the frames' hinges. Later in the evening, he took home the SILMO d'Or Award. Licht has 10 years of experience as a furniture maker. The factotum added eyewear to his trade five years ago. His company is based in Erfurt, Germany.

Logo, the big French company that split in 2001 from Essilor, is the first company to have come out with specific eyewear for babies - from birth to three years ? and it was awarded for this achievement at the last SILMO. Produced with the help of specialized opticians and ophthalmologists specialized in young children, the glasses have earpieces that can be extended as the child grows. They will be launched under the Bam'Boo brand name in the first half of 2006, alongside the firm's three existing children's lines - Zinnie, for children aged 3-6, Disney for 6 to 10 years old, and Harry Potter for 10-15 year-olds - plus its Cacharel and Naf Naf lines for children and teenagers. Harry Potter is no doubt the line that has brought Logo true recognition as a children's eyewear brand.

Logo also produces a wide range of eyewear for adults, driven by Tag Heuer. The most recent collection under this name had a fine acetate-plated titanium hingeless frame, but the design was not unanimously appreciated so the company developed a new version with hinges, but which are barely visible. Logo generated total sales of €30 million in 2004 - a 12 percent increase over 2003 - and maintained roughly the same volume in the first half of 2005. Some 65 percent of sales are made in Europe, including 18 percent in France. The USA and Asia account for 15 percent each and the Middle East for 5 percent.

Cliff Robinson won a Golden SILMO Award with his new Kata collection, and filled the order books for the line. Its acetate frames are enhanced with fine layers of wood, a feature the company plans to use in its Arc and Plus collections, to be showcased next spring in New York. Cliff represents a new generation in an American group that turns over some €30 million a year with its two companies - B.Robinson for low-priced lines, which does 90 percent of its business in the USA, and Legacie, established three years ago to carry the expensive Kata and Judith Leiber. Legacie's grew by about 30 percent in 2005 after a 20 percent hike in 2004. U.S. sales account for a third of the total, with 20 percent going to Europe, 30 percent to Asia ? mainly Japan and Taiwan ? and the remainder to the rest of the world.

Demez, a French eyewear manufacturer specialized in sports eyewear ? chiefly diving masks (3,000 units a year) and ski goggles ? won a Golden SILMO Award for a line of frames that can accommodate both prescription and sun lenses. The polarized lenses are ultra-flexible, making them easy to remove and insert without risk of breakage. The company's turnover grew by more than 12 percent in 2004 to €2 million. A 15 percent hike was expected for 2005.