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MJSA Education Foundation Awards Over $10,000 in Scholarships

The total amount includes a $2,500 grant provided by the Providence Jewelers Club for students enrolled in an eligible Rhode Island program.




(PRESS RELEASE) The MJSA Education Foundation recently awarded over $10,000 in scholarships to four students pursuing professional careers in jewelry making and design. Each has a strongly developed social consciousness, with a desire to give back, as well as a passion for their craft and a drive to push their designs into new directions.

The total amount includes a $2,500 grant provided by the Providence Jewelers Club for students enrolled in an eligible Rhode Island program.

The MJSA Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) subsidiary of MJSA, the trade association dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design. It supports training and outreach programs that help to ensure the jewelry industry maintains a qualified, competitive workforce, and since 1997 has awarded over $240,000 in scholarship funds. The four recipients of the 2021 scholarships are listed below.

MJSA Education Foundation Awards Over $10,000 in Scholarships

From right: Christiane Gozashti, Eleanna Feldman, Allison Ice, Anna Van Ness

Christiane Gozashti ($3,536 scholarship)

Christiane Gozashti is pursuing three diplomas from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA): Jewelry, Design, & Technology; Graduate Gemology; and Graduate Jeweler. A native Californian and a former competitive surfer, Gozashti has traveled the world and, for eight years, lived in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, where she decided to pursue a jewelry career after working part time for a local manufacturing jeweler. Ultimately, she’d like to launch her own lines of ethically sourced jewelry, as well as teach and provide scholarships “for future jewelry dreamers.” She also intends to donate 10 percent of her profits to a global organization dedicated to refugees, such as UNICEF or Women for Afghanistan. Her parents had to flee Iran in the late 1970s during that country’s revolution, and she’s seen first-hand “the trauma of trying to enter a different culture, not knowing English, and needing to start over.”


Eleanna Feldman ($3,536 scholarship, including support from the Providence Jewelers Club)

This fall, Eleanna Feldman will begin her studies toward a BFA in metalsmithing/jewelry at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. After being introduced to jewelry making during a teenage summer camp, she created an attic studio in her Montclair, New Jersey, home, from which she developed designs that she sold online. She has a special attraction to kinetic pieces—a pair of seahorse earrings, made of individual plates to create a sense of motion, won a Gold Key in the 2020 Scholastic Art Awards for the northern New Jersey region. After her anticipated graduation in 2025, she would like to find work as a bench jeweler or designer before starting her own studio. She also wants to ensure her work supports meaningful causes. “An important component of being a successful artist and businesswoman is being able to give back to my community,” she says.

Allison Ice ($1,500 scholarship)

Allison Ice is in the final year of the MFA program in visual arts/metalsmithing at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. An MJSA scholarship winner in 2019 and 2020, she has spent the past few years searching for what she calls the “sweet spot” between art jewelry and more commercial designs. Her overriding goal is to make pieces that tell a story—“I want to sell things that are meaningful to me, and could be meaningful to others.” One of her recent themes is mental health—something that, in these COVID-challenged times, resonates widely—and her “Take Care of Your Brain” designs feature, in place of gems, brain-shaped castings and plastic patterns. She eventually would like to settle around Lawrence (where she grew up) and pursue teaching, custom work, and the creation of her own signature designs.

Anna Van Ness ($1,500 scholarship)

Anna Van Ness, who also won the Providence Jewelers Club grant in 2019 and 2020, is pursuing a BFA in jewelry and metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. Van Ness often incorporates natural materials and found objects into her work, and she places a special importance on sustainability. “I look at all aspects of a material’s lifespan and the effects of working with it on my body and my surroundings,” she says. Looking past her anticipated graduation in 2022, she wants “to make a line of work that is accessible and also environmentally minded, while continuing to make contemporary art jewelry as well.” She also intends to ultimately pursue a graduate degree: “I plan to teach in order to pass my values and my care for the environment to a new generation of makers.”


For more information and photos of the scholarship winners’ work, contact Rich Youmans, MJSA communications officer, at 1-800-444-MJSA (ext. 3025),



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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