WJA Announces 2018 Scholarship and Grant Winners

The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) has announced that it will award a total of $65,500 to 45 women through its 2018–2019 scholarship and grant programs.

The New York City–based nonprofit organization will bestow these awards—along with its Visionary Awards to industry leaders—at its annual Awards for Excellence gala on July 16 at the Chelsea Piers in New York City.

The nonprofit, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, raises funds for grants and scholarships through the annual gala and by way of individual member donations and corporate sponsorships.

Student scholarships are awarded in three different categories: Designer/Creator category (based on images of finished pieces that are designed and created by the student); Designer category (based on designs by the student, includes CAD and drawings); and Non-Designer category (essay-based for those studying to be a gemologist, appraiser, watch-maker, bench jeweler, or retailer).

WJA’s 2018-2019 scholarship recipients are:

Carelle-WJA Grant ($5,000): Christina Miller

Miller is an independent sustainable jewelry consultant who “provides strategy, guidance, and impact measurement to help jewelers make lives better around the world,” according to a statement from WJA. She’s the cofounder and former executive director of Ethical Metalsmiths (EM), a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that strives to increase responsible practices in the jewelry industry through education. (In 2013, EM successfully introduced FAIRMINED gold to the United States in collaboration with 23 independent jewelers and refiner Hoover & Strong. And from 2006–2010 Miller was an assistant professor of jewelry and metalsmithing at Millersville University. She holds a BFA from Millersville University and an MFA from East Carolina University.

Female Veteran Scholarship, sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group ($5,000): Lisa West, Gemological Institute of America

West is a freelance CAD jewelry designer in San Diego. The disabled veteran of the United States Air Force West is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America’s Graduate Jeweler and Jewelry Design and Technology programs. “At home she is a wife and the mother of two handsome red-headed boys,” reads the statement, and “on the weekends, she plays soccer, and she is currently working with a start-up jewelry company creating 3D models for their products.”

The Cindy Edelstein Jewelry Design Scholarship ($5,000): Julie Martin, San Diego State University

Martin earned her BA in applied design in jewelry and metalsmithing at San Diego State University. Following school, she began a three-year apprenticeship with a master jeweler in San Diego who’s now part of her current team. She founded Scout Mandolin, a luxury brand that makes custom one-of-a-kind engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry based in California’s Napa Valley. “In her spare time, Julie enjoys yoga, travel, hiking, and spending time with her dog, Haven, and her husband, Alex,” according to the WJA statement.

The Gabriel Love Foundation Scholarship ($5,000): Magan Byron, Gemological Institute of America

Magan Martin Byron earned her BFA in jewelry and metalworking from the University of Georgia. She is currently enrolled in the Gem Identification course at the Gemological Institute of America (the final course she needs to complete her graduate gemologist degree). She lives in Athens, Ga., with her husband and two dogs, “where she works as the operations director at T.K. Anderson Designs,” says the same statement. “In her spare time she enjoys yoga, hiking, gardening, and traveling.”

The June Herman Designer/Creator Scholarship Award ($7,000): Hsinyu Chu, Gemological Institute of America

Hsinyu Chu jewelry
Jewelry by Hsinyu Chu

Designer/Creator Scholarship Award ($5,000): Hannah Hash, Gemological Institute of America

Hannah Hash jewelry
Jewelry and accessories by Hannah Hash

Designer/Creator Scholarship Award ($3,000): Ekaterina Korzh, University of Iowa

 Ekaterina Korzh jewelry
Jewelry by Ekaterina Korzh

Designer/Creator Scholarship Award ($2,000): Zihan Yang, Savannah College of Art and Design

Zihan Yang jewelry
Jewelry by Zihan Yang

The Peggy Kirby Scholarship Award ($5,000): Sidnee Tyree, Kendall College of Art and Design

Sidnee Tyree jewelry
Jewelry by Sidnee Tyree

Non-Designer Scholarship ($3,000): Jacqueline Lapuck, Gemological Institute of America

Non-Designer Scholarship ($1,000): Natalie Tjaden, University of Tennessee; Madison Desmond, Gemological Institute of America; Sarah Andrie, Gemological Institute of America; Jodi Webster, University of Kansas

“It’s important that WJA encourages and continues to support the professional growth and educational endeavors of women in the jewelry and watch industries,” said Jenny Luker, WJA board president, in the prepared statement. “The recipients are all extraordinary and exceptional at what they do. We are excited to see what new opportunities they will bring to our industry.”

(Photos courtesy of WJA)

JCK Magazine Editor