Every year, talented students from across the United States look to MJSA for help in realizing a shared dream: to have a successful career in designing and making jewelry. And thanks to the MJSA Education Foundation Scholarship Group, the association can help provide the some of the financial support they need.
Since 1997, the Foundation has awarded over $230,000 in scholarship support, including a total of $10,000 in funding provided over the past four years by the Providence Jewelers Club (for students attending Rhode Island schools). All the funds are managed by the Rhode Island Foundation on behalf of MJSA and the MJSA Education Foundation.
In addition to MJSA’s annual scholarships, students enrolled in jewelry design, jewelry making, or other jewelry-related degree programs at colleges, universities, and technical schools in the state of Rhode Island are eligible for a special grant, in the amount of $2,500, donated by the Providence Jewelers Club Foundation.
Any student enrolled in a jewelry program, who intends to pursue a career in the jewelry industry and can demonstrate financial need, is eligible to apply. Applicants are assessed on the basis of course of study, academics, career plans, recommendations, and industry experience. Students must be U.S. citizens.
The 2021 application deadline is May 15. Click here to learn more and apply.
Pursuing a BFA in jewelry design and metalsmithing at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Anticipated graduation date: May 2022.
As a high school student in Allen, Texas, Christopher Liu made his first piece of jewelry: a double-heart pendant for his sister’s birthday. It was an apt choice, given that he felt an immediate attraction to the process. "[W]hat I really loved was art and engineering," he recalled in an interview with author/consultant Marlene Richey, shortly after winning Emerging Jewelry Artist (18 Years of Age or Younger) in Rio Grande’s Saul Bell Design Awards. "This transferred perfectly to wearable art." In 2020, the 19-year-old Liu repeated his Saul Bell success by winning the emerging artist category for designers under 22.
In all of his work, movement and flow play leading roles ("I’ve been a figure skater for the last 14 years, so I’m constantly inspired by the ice and its skaters," he says.) As for his own movement, he’ll be attending Texas Tech University next; after that, he’d like "to work as a bench jeweler for any prestigious company or eccentric shop, and eventually open a shop of my own." He’d also like to someday teach high school students (an avocation honed by his experience teaching figure skating at a local rink). In the meantime, he’s working out of his home, creating custom pieces for clients and building his portfolio.
Above, Right: Zephyr hair pin made of sterling, cubic zirconia, and synthetic sapphire. It is designed to mimic the grace of birds and the finesse of flight.
Pursuing an AAS in cowboy arts/western silversmithing and fabrication at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Anticipated graduation date: May 2021.
While growing up near Gallup, New Mexico, Delaney Gonzales-Garcia found two important influences that would shape her artistic pursuits. The first was Native American artists, whose collections of turquoise jewelry and other southwestern styles she found "stunning." The second was the local rodeo scene, where winning "bits, spurs, and buckles" instilled in her a desire "to create extraordinary pieces for future generations."
Those passions led her to enroll in the Cowboy Arts/Western Silversmithing and Fabrication Program at Mesalands Community College. "Delaney has been one of the hardest working individuals in my class," says Eddy Mardis, one of the school’s a silversmithing instructors. "No matter what Delaney works on, from buckles to jewelry to bits and spurs, she always puts her all into everything she does." Not only is she a great student, he adds, but she "always walks into class with a smile on her face... and is always willing to lend a helping hand." Ultimately, she wants to run her own company and teach others the art of silversmithing.
Above, Right: Sterling "Cardinal" bracelet.
Pursuing an MA in jewelry design at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Anticipated graduation date: May 2022.
Kelly Knight’s career as a creative artist began not with metals and gems, but with furniture, lighting, and textiles. She originally graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1995 with a BFA in interior design, and her career over the next two decades included stints with world-renowned design firms, forays into furniture fabrication, and appearances in such consumer publications as Architectural Digest and the British-based World of Interiors.
However, Knight also had a passion for jewelry design that reached back to her high school days, and for several years she ran a side business making and selling jewelry strung with pearls and beads. Recently, after taking a jewelry class with noted New York City jewelry designer Ayaka Nishi, she decided to pursue her passion as a career. Describing her style as "whimsical, versatile, with an edge," she would eventually like to start her own business developing a line of interchangeable fine jewelry with a range of price points. She adds that it would also be interesting to combine her two careers, and to "consider designing a line of home accessories that would complement my jewelry designs."
Above, Right: Brass and turquoise ring, inspired by a Line Vautrin mirror.
Pursuing a diploma in the Jewelry Design and Technology program at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California. Anticipated graduation date: January 2021.
Tana Miller has been involved in retail jewelry since 2013—she works as sales associate for a major retailer near her home in Bluefield, West Virginia, and has completed the diamond certification program offered by the Diamond Council of America. Her goal, however, has been not just to sell jewelry, but to make it as well. Now, she says, "it’s time to step across my comfort zone and move across the country to do what I know I do best"—specifically, to study at the Gemological Institute of America to learn design, manufacturing, and CAD. Her ultimate goals are to create jewelry that can be sold through major retailers and to return to West Virginia to open her own custom studio.
Above, Right: 14k wedding ring, created in CAD, featuring 1 ct. center stone and 0.5 ctw side stones.
Pursuing an MFA in visual arts/metalsmithing at the University of Kansas In Lawrence, Kansas. Anticipated graduation date: May 2022.
A 2019 MJSA scholarship winner, Allison Ice is entering the second year of a three-year graduate program through which she’s both learning practical skills and exploring new concepts. "Thoughtful interaction with meaningful objects is an integral part of the human experience," she says. "I use this belief to stray from the canon of traditional silversmithing and fine jewelry design by combining those traditions with materials and techniques derived from commercial toy manufacturing." Her aim, she says, is "to explore and challenge our tangled perceptions of material and sentimental value," and allow viewers to perhaps "rediscover the child within them." Prior to graduate school, Ice honed her skills in CAD and casting at a St. Louis custom jeweler, and after graduation she hopes to both work as a contemporary jewelry artist and teach college arts. "I hope to play a role in the preservation of traditional studio arts by advocating for the use of CAD and 3-D printing as a supplement to conventional craft technique," she says.
Right: A V-Ray computer render of the Gemfaced Beetle Brooch, which incorporates plastic, 14k gold, rainforest topaz, and diamonds.
$2,500 Providence Jewelers Club Foundation Grant
Pursuing a BFA in jewelry and metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. Expected graduation date: May 2022.
This is the second year in a row that Anna Van Ness has received a grant from the Providence Jewelers Club. She’s currently entering her second year at Rhode Island School of Design, where she’s pursuing a degree in jewelry and metalsmithing with a concentration in nature, culture, and sustainability studies.
"Growing up in rural Vermont gave me a deep connection to nature," she says. "My jewelry is heavily influenced by natural designs, and I’ve started using natural materials and found objects in my projects. I hope to work in the future with sustainable and ethical jewelry design, and potentially in an environmental science field as well. Using low-impact materials and processes are very important to me, and I hope to spread those ideas throughout the metalsmithing community."
Right: A chatelaine (an accessory that doubles as a "tool kit") made of brass, sterling, and wood.