Designers / Fashion / Industry / Webinars

NYCJW Debuts Series of Jewelry Career Talks for High Schoolers


If you’re reading this, you know that jewelry design is a viable career that can be both lucrative and personally fulfilling.

But many high school students don’t—and NYC Jewelry Week (NYCJW) is taking steps to expose young New Yorkers to the many career paths available within the industry.

As part of its mandate to nurture the next generation of jewelry designers, NYCJW has partnered with the New York City Department of Education to debut a three-part virtual series for students, which will be presented successively.

The series was developed under NYCJW’s Here We Are platform, which strives to spotlight BIPOC designers and jewelry professionals. Its first installment will stream tomorrow for students at three local high schools: the High School of Fashion Industries, the High School of Art and Design, and the W.H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School.

The initial talk features NYC jewelry designers Lorraine West and Johnny Nelson, who will discuss “their educational backgrounds, obstacles they’ve faced, their collections, and some of the different celebrity clients they’ve worked with,” says Filecellia Sampson, Here We Are’s outreach director. “They will be dropping guidance for the students to soak in.”

The second installment will be a conversation with college representatives from Pratt Institute and Kingsborough Community College, both based in Brooklyn, N.Y. And the third installment will be focused on brand building, featuring popular jewelry consultant Liz Kantner, who will team up with an as-yet-unnamed jewelry designer.

Johnny Nelson
Brooklyn, N.Y., jewelry designer Johnny Nelson will co-host the first installment of the NYCJW educational series, with fellow designer Lorraine West (photo courtesy of Johnny Nelson Jewelry)

The series will also mark the official formation of a jewelry club at the High School of Fashion Industries, which Sampson cultivated. She says she’s long been interested in building an education pipeline from the classroom to the bench and/or boardroom “to expose and introduce new talent to the industry, specifically Black and brown individuals,” and is currently working with schools to modernize a jewelry program that hasn’t been updated in 30 years.

NYCJW hopes to augment and replicate the student series both locally and for other school districts, particularly those in underprivileged areas. 

Bella Neyman, cofounder of NYC Jewelry Week, says her organization has always been interested in education: “When we started, we started trying to build a relationship with the Department of Education. With so many underprivileged schools here, we really wanted to build that bridge, and we wanted students to hear from these incredible jewelers who are making a good living. So often students feel they only go into professions they know are paths toward success. But a path toward success is anything you’re passionate about.”

Top: Jewelry designer Lorraine West (photo courtesy of Lorraine West Jewelry)

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By: Emili Vesilind

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