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MJSA Education Foundation Awards $10,000 in “Future of Jewelry Making” Scholarships

Three students received the awards.




Christopher Liu | Annsley Matthiessen | Matthew Rongbai Smith
Christopher Liu | Annsley Matthiessen | Matthew Rongbai Smith

(PRESS RELEASE) The MJSA Education Foundation, which supports career and training initiatives for students and workers throughout the jewelry industry, has awarded scholarships to three students who plan to turn their passion for making jewelry into lifelong careers.

Christopher Liu ($5,000 scholarship) is entering his senior year at Texas Tech University School of Art in Lubbock, Texas. Liu, who also won an MJSA scholarship in 2020, has been exploring jewelry designs that have “the presence of sculpture.” He’s planning to pursue advanced studies after graduating. Eventually, he would like to teach as well as open a studio for artists of various disciplines—e.g., sculpture, fashion, architecture, jewelry—to collaborate and create.

Annsley Matthiessen ($2,500 scholarship) is working toward a Graduate Gemologist (GG) diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). A recent graduate of GIA’s Jewelry Design and Technology program, Matthiessen is studying at the institute’s London campus and is scheduled to receive her GG at the end of this year. Her goal is to be a full-time jewelry designer and possibly create her own lines.

Matthew Rongbai Smith ($2,500 scholarship) is studying in the GIA Graduate Diamond program, after which he will pursue GIA’s Graduate Colored Stone and Graduate Gemologist diplomas. He’s also pursuing bachelor’s degrees at two state schools, South Georgia State College (business management) and Valdosta State University (psychology), as well as helping with repairs and custom work at Crawford Jewelers in Waycross, Georgia. (He graduated in 2022 from the New Approach School for Bench Jewelers in Tennessee.) An orphan whose earliest years were spent in China before being adopted and brought to the United States, Smith would someday like to open his own jewelry store while also helping other orphans realize their potential.

To learn more about the Foundation’s “Future of Jewelry Making” scholarships and its 2023 recipients, go here.

The MJSA Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) subsidiary of MJSA, the U.S. trade alliance of jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers dedicated to professional excellence. Since 1997, the Foundation has awarded $260,000 to aspiring jewelers (including $17,500 donated by the Providence Jewelers Club). All funds are managed by the Rhode Island Foundation on behalf of MJSA.


In addition to the annual “Future of Jewelry Making” scholarships, the Foundation also sponsors the new MJSA Mentor & Apprentice Program as well as a Career Connections initiative to unite businesses with qualified workers. To learn more, go here.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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