2022 Responsible Business Education Grant Winners (SPONSORED BY Platinum Guild USA)
Encompassing both style and brains, Elyssa Jenkins holds many titles. She is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Black in Jewelry Coalition —the first non-profit international membership organization for the advancement of Black professionals in the gem, jewelry, and watch industry. Elyssa also serves as Chapter Liaison for the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) National Diversity Committee and the President for the WJA NY Metro chapter. And if that isn’t enough, her day job includes serving as the Director of Membership and Digital Content at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. A long-time New York resident, Elyssa first established herself in the fashion industry, working and attending over 10+ seasons of New York Fashion Week as Head Editor for a prominent hair and beauty magazine. Elyssa is passionate about creating a more inclusive environment for all and uplifting aspiring entrepreneurs by providing resources and connections.Elyssa holds a Masters’s degree in Biomedical Science from Rutgers Graduate School, a Bachelors’s degree in Biology, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish from the University of New Mexico.
French New Yorker Delphine Leymarie designs and crafts her luxe and modern eponymous fine jewelry line in NYC. Drawing inspiration from the blissful beaches of her childhood in the South of France and the invigorating energy of the modern urban architecture surrounding her for the last 2 decades, she creates jewels that are timelessly romantic, organically geometric, and playfully convertible. Delphine’s collection is centered around the many uses of her Boheme Clickers, her versatile modular charm holders that can be used in many combinations, making her jewels as unique as the wearer. She favors empowering and protective symbols paired with carefully and responsibly selected gems to create uplifting & colorful jewelry. She dreams up her pieces as powerful talismans and modern heirlooms to be cherished for generations. Delphine uses recycled fine metals whenever possible, primarily 18k gold, working to source her gems responsibly and satisfy a craving for a kind of luxury that is respectful of the magnificent resources of our planet. She believes that mindful luxury is possible and aims to create sparkly sculptures that can adorn your body and help elevate your soul. An avid and classically trained dancer, she also has a natural affinity with numbers that first led her to Business School. She originally moved to NYC to pursue an MBA in Corporate finance, a field where she had a successful career for more than a decade. In search of a new creative outlet, she fell in love with jewelry making after taking classes at the 92nd street Y in Manhattan. She first trained in metalsmithing, enameling, and chain making, but really found her medium once she started learning wax carving, as it better suited her love of volumes and sculptural shapes. She has not stopped hand-sculpting jewelry since, and happily left behind the drab world of corporate finance for the sparkly one of jewelry when she started her fine jewelry line in the summer of 2011. To celebrate over a decade of Delphine Leymarie Fine Jewelry, a Fairmined gold capsule collection is in the works to mark the milestone and reaffirm Delphine’s commitment to responsible jewelry crafting.
2023 CARELLE GRANT WINNER
Halle’s designs are inspired by West African textiles and shields that her parents brought home from their travels and filled her home as a child. Pear shaped diamonds, or tears of joy, are also a defining feature of this collection. Finding initial support to create her collection in 18K gold and natural diamonds, really was a moment she had been working towards for 16 years. It is a tribute to all those nights and years of working towards a goal and finally seeing it come to fruition. Today, Halle is the creator of Heart The Stones, a fine jewelry line that celebrates determination, bravery and personal milestones in unexpected ways. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and two young sons.
2022 VETERAN GRANT WINNER (SPONSORED BY JEWELERS MUTUAL)
Rikiesha Metzger is a Ph.D. student at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She received Sylvia
Grandstaff is a US Army combat veteran, helicopter and fixed-wing aviator, competitive sailplane pilot, motorcyclist, and lover of wilderness. Her work is inspired by WWII sweetheart jewelry and trench art, her Slavic Polish heritage, the beauty of the natural world, and the machines that carry us through it.
Grant quote: I am deeply grateful for the generosity of this grant and the energy others put forth to make it happen. The grant will allow me to purchase pneumatic engraving equipment and attend two courses at the
GRS Training Center to continue to develop my jewelry and bright-cut engraving skills.
2022 MEMBER GRANT RECIPIENTS
The Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) announced that it has awarded approximately $20,000 in member grants to women around the country. Member Grants are awarded to professional-level, WJA members in good standing, in increments of $500 to be used toward professional growth.
Funds for WJA Member Grants are raised by the national organization, as well as by WJA chapters around the country. All applications are reviewed by the WJA Member Grant Committee, chaired by Lauren Johansen, Directory of Membership Strategy and Experience at the American Gem Society. All qualified applicants are entered into random drawing to determine the winners.
A portion of the proceeds from WJA's Conversations in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion series helped to fund six additional WJA member grants this year to specifically support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color) and LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, +) applicants.
Grant Winners are listed by the WJA Chapter that submitted their names:
*Indicates recipient of WJA DEI Member Grant
- Austin: Cara Shackelford, Jennie Bennett
- Boston: Lori Magno, Andrea Price
- Dallas: Cassidy Swanson
- DMV: Cindy Liebel*
- Las Vegas: Linda Jochimsen
- Los Angeles: Kailin He, Radhika Gandhi*, Soonjin Kim*
- Louisiana: Shelby Brignac
- Miami: Trisha Bruno
- New Mexico: Kimberly Thompson
- Northern California: Kathy DeWeese, Jennifer Hanox, Lindsay Knox*
- NY Metro:Olivia Rosenberger, Alanna Campbell, Barbara Novak, Joanne Simmons, Nancy Ross, Jenith Gomez, Christina Malle
- Ohio/Kentucky: Christina Brandewie, Meghan Carroll, Laurie Watt
- Philadelphia: Kathryn Kelly
- Providence: Kristen Romans
- San Diego: Aurora Mazzei, Kathryn Timmerman-Susak, Judy Colbert, Ashley McGinty*
- Seattle: Morgaine Faye
- Twin Cities: Kelly Williams, Laurie Kottke (Janel Russell Grant)
- No Chapter Nearby: Sabrina Lin, Michaela Farkasovska, Patricia Carruth*, Kouali Ando-N'Guessan*
2023 HELENE FORTUNOFF WOMEN IN RETAIL SCHOLARSHIP
Ashley found her retail sea legs when she ventured into luxury retail at Barney’s New York in Beverly Hills in the early aughts. She soon felt compelled to lean into the management side of retail, and after a cross country move found herself eventually settling down as the Store Manager of Springer’s Jewelers in Portsmouth New Hampshire. There she was encouraged to grow her skillset, acquiring an AJP through GIA. Working for a family owned, women led company has been life changing. She looks forward to continuing to grow with their team and company.
“I am beyond thrilled and humbled to be the recipient of the 2023 Helene Fortunoff Woman in Retail Scholarship. Hearing about Helene’s strength, trailblazing business savvy and her determination to help future women in the business is doubly meaningful as both a working mother and a retail manager in an often male dominated field. I am honored to be a part of her lasting legacy and will do my best to embody her tenacity and passion for both jewelry and helping others succeed.”
2023 RADIANT MINDS SCHOLARSHIP
"With this scholarship I can make time to visualize & build my contribution as a resource to the WJA, BIJC, and future waves of Radiant Minds Technology Scholarship recipients."
2023 Cindy Edelstein Jewelry design scholarship
Casey Perez is a Mexican American independent jewelry designer based in New York City. Her namesake line is a celebration of form, drawing inspiration from an artful lexicon of modernist shapes and architectural elements. Each handcrafted piece showcases her unique design sensibility, skillfully blending imaginative elements with contemporary elegance, resulting in unique and captivating expressions of beauty and self-expression.
"I am so honored and grateful to have been awarded the 2023 Cindy Edelstein Design Scholarship. This recognition marks a significant milestone in my journey as a jewelry designer and I'm excited to embark on a journey of growth toward achieving my creative and entrepreneurial goals through this award. Thank you for this generous support!"
2023 Gabriel love foundation scholarship
Cydney’s earliest memories of jewelry were in getting into her mother’s and grandmother’s jewelry collections. Although she’s always loved the appearance of antique jewelry — especially Art Nouveau and Edwardian — she had never considered it as a career path until her mother-in-law encouraged her to enroll in courses at GIA and to start working at a local boutique.
While obtaining her Associate’s Degree from Saddleback College in American Sign Language Interpreting, Cydney’s instructors had emphasized the frustration felt by the deaf and hard of hearing communities when trying to interact with the larger hearing community, and how rare it was for somebody to engage with them in a patient manner.
Cydney witnessed this frustration while helping as an interpreter for a Deaf friend, as well as when employed at a fine jewelry location, and resolved to be an advocate for clear and compassionate interactions with that community.
After completing her Graduate Gemologist diploma at GIA, her goal is to work as an appraiser. She also plans on creating content that is accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing communities. As an individual with dyslexia and dyscalculia, she also wants to make content that is accessible for those with learning disabilities so that they can not only share in her education and knowledge but ultimately feel empowered when selecting jewelry.
WJA DIVERSITY Scholarships for GIA Education
- Gwen Beloti
- Nicole Cisneros
- Emi Harase
- Tadiwanashe Madzime
2023 STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
- Betsy Yates - New Approach School
- Julia King - Savannah College of Art