Industry / Platinum

WJA Foundation Awards Its First Responsible Business Education Grants


Consumers want sustainable jewelry products and jewelers who are experts on the ways in which their individual work can be more environmentally conscious. Now, a new grant will help jewelers do exactly that—and its sponsors hope the ripple effect will impact the industry as well.

On Jan. 10, the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) Foundation announced the first recipients of its new Responsible Business Education Grant: jewelers Megan Cochran and Mary Enright.

Sponsored by Platinum Guild International (PGI) USA, the new grant gives these two WJA members the opportunity to enroll in a top-rated sustainability course at New York University’s Stern School of Business Executive Education online program, the WJA Foundation said in a statement.

“With continued support of industry partners, our hope is that these grants will be the first of many in the sustainability space that the WJA Foundation will be able to provide to its membership,” says Jenny Luker, president of PGI USA. “For PGI and our industry, sustainability is an important focus, and we felt that working with WJA Foundation was a great place to start by providing education and increasing awareness.”

Platinum Guild International is dedicated to promoting platinum and its qualities to the consumer and the jewelry trade. PGI has offices in each of the world’s major jewelry markets, providing information, assistance, and education on all aspects of platinum jewelry.

Megan Cochran
Grant recipient Megan Cochran is a California-based jeweler who recently started her own jewelry line, Megan Cochran Jewelry Design (photo courtesy of Megan Cochran). 

Luker says education is a key starting point in building sustainable practices in all levels of the jewelry business.

“We need to ensure that the industry is educated in the area of sustainability: what it means to consumers, how our products are being purchased, and where jewelry sits within the larger sustainability environment,” Luker says. “The NYU Stern course will provide the recipients with an overview of sustainable best practices, which they will then be able to utilize in their own businesses and hopefully share with the industry at-large.”

WJA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that offers a variety of scholarships and grants to support the career growth and educational endeavors of professionals in the jewelry and watch industries.

The 2022 recipients are alike in that jewelry and design are both their strong points as well as their career-long passions.

Megan Cochran is an independent designer and jeweler based in Oceanside, Calif. She has a bachelor of fine arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a Graduate Jeweler diploma and CAD/CAM certification from the Gemological Institute of America.

Cochran also has more than 14 years of experience as a designer and product developer for international brands and retailers. In 2020, she started her own business, Megan Cochran Jewelry Design, offering design and production services to small jewelry businesses that are invested in a more ethical approach to design and sourcing. She is a member and volunteer with Ethical Metalsmiths, and she serves as treasurer of the WJA’s San Diego chapter.

Jewelry designer and master goldsmith Mary Enright has almost two decades’ experience in the jewelry industry, both as a designer and business owner. The success of her boutique-style jewelry gallery and workshop in Ireland brought her critical acclaim internationally, which led to a successful solo exhibition in New York in 2016.

Shortly thereafter, Enright moved to New York City and worked at Tiffany & Co. as a model maker in its jewelry design and innovation workshop. Enright is currently a CAD/CAM instructor at GIA and serves on the Diversity and Communication committees of the WJA’s New York Metro chapter.

Top: Mary Enright is one of two women who received the first Responsible Business Education Grants from the Women’s Jewelry Association Foundation and sponsored by Platinum Guild International USA (photo courtesy of the Women’s Jewelry Association Foundation).

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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