Every year, talented students from across the United States look to MJSA for help in realizing a shared dream: to have a successful career in designing and making jewelry. And thanks to the MJSA Education Foundation Scholarship Group, the association can provide the financial support they need.
The Scholarship Group consists of five permanent endowment funds managed by the Rhode Island Foundation on behalf of MJSA and the Foundation. Money generated by these funds provides support to U.S. students enrolled in jewelry design, jewelry making, or other jewelry-related degree programs at colleges, universities, and technical schools. Several awards of $500 to $3,000 are given every year. Since 1997, the Foundation has awarded over $200,000 to students interested in pursuing professional careers.
New this year: In addition to MJSA’s annual scholarships, students enrolled in jewelry design, jewelry making, or other jewelry-related degree programs at colleges, universities, and technical schools in the state of Rhode Island were eligible for a special grant, in the amount of $2,500, donated by the Providence Jewelers Club Foundation.
Any student enrolled in a jewelry program, who intends to pursue a career in the jewelry industry and can demonstrate financial need, is eligible to apply. Applicants are assessed on the basis of course of study, academics, career plans, recommendations, and industry experience. Students must be U.S. citizens.
For application eligibility and content inquiries, contact:
Donor Services Administrator
1-401-427-4028 or E-mail
Pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree in jewelry/metalsmithing at Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland, Maine. Expected graduation: Spring 2020.
Rebecca Richards loves making jewelry with diverse materials, such as yarn, brass, and mother of pearl, and her inspirations range from historical styles (as shown in the "Egyptian Armor Collar" neckpiece) to various flora and fauna. Although she’s only entering her sophomore year, “her fabrication skills are impeccable; she has an eye of a jeweler,” writes Sharon Portelance, chair of the Metalsmithing and Jewelry Program at MECA. Other professors describe her as “talented,” “committed,” “hardworking,” “passionate,” “mature,” and “self-directed.” Currently, she sells her creations online and at farmers’ markets, and hopes to someday display her work (and that of other local artists) in her own store.
About the jewelry pictured: Rebecca Richards’s Egyptian Armor Collar features alpaca yarn, acid dye, wire, clothesline, onyx, and mother of pearls. She completed it via crocheting, coiling, and beading. Inspired by Egyptian collars, the neckpiece symbolizes strength, echoing the armor of ancient warriors.
Pursuing a graduate gemologist diploma at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) campus in Carlsbad, California. Expected graduation: May 2018.
Emily Fout has known what she wanted for a career since an early age: She started making jewelry at nine. Since then, she’s relied primarily on mentors and local classes to advance her skills in design, fabrication, and business, and her hard work and dedication have led to her own company: Fizzy Love Jewelry, which emphasizes designs showcasing gemstones and beads. Through her GIA classes, Fout hopes to enhance her artistic expression. “When I discovered GIA and realized that I could get specialized education focused on exactly my passion, I felt like I had found home,” she says. After she receives her graduate gemologist diploma, Fout plans to begin a graduate jeweler program.
About the jewelry pictured: Emily Fout’s rugged yet delicate earrings are made with a raw agate slice, which is enveloped by an intricate chain. The earrings also feature an amethyst briolette that’s accompanied by moonstone and clear quartz.
Pursuing a graduate gemologist diploma at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) campus in Carlsbad, California. Expected graduation: April 2019.
Jaclyn Bush is a hard worker: In addition to completing her GIA studies, she works full time in the repair shop at Jared the Galleria of Jewelry in Houston; assists Designer Jewels, an independent retailer also in Houston; and does custom jewelry work for her own small business. Mark Sandler, vice president of Designer Jewels, describes Bush as “young, skilled, [and] desperate to learn more and do even better than she can do today.” Bush’s goal is to "become more capable as a business owner who does her own buying, manufacturing, and selling." She believes her GIA coursework will prepare her to do just that, as well as achieve one more goal: to add appraising to the menu of services her business offers.
About the jewelry pictured: Jaclyn Bush’s Roman Chain and Aquamarine Pendant features fine silver chain and genuine aquamarine with sterling silver setting.
Pursuing a masters of fine arts degree at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) in Edwardsville, Illinois. Expected graduation: 2020.
Following undergraduate studies that emphasized technical mastery of materials, Katelyn Butler entered the master’s program “to give meaning to my work by developing and discovering the philosophies behind it.” Since 2011, she’s appeared in more than two dozen curated or juried exhibitions (winning six juror’s awards) and earned nine previous scholarships. Aimee Howard, head of the Metalsmithing Program at SIUE, describes Butler as “one of the most talented young artists I have seen” and points out her diversity, saying she transitioned from working primarily in silver and copper to using mirror polished steel, nickel, wax, and encaustics, among other materials. Butler plans to use this knowledge not only for jewelry making, but also for teaching, her ultimate goal.
About the jewelry pictured: Katelyn Butler’s Kenophobia Brooch was made in nickel, silver, and steel. It was the first concept piece she created in graduate school. Inspired by the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, the pattern is meant to snare the viewer into subjective space.
$2,500 scholarship (through the Providence Jewelers Club Foundation)
Pursuing a graduate jeweler diploma in jewelry and metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island. Expected graduation: May 2019.
Valerie James realized she wanted to teach while helping to instruct beginner jewelry classes at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, where she was studying for a bachelor’s degree. “I found it very rewarding to assist students in realizing their goals,” she says. To help her realize her own goal, James recently entered the master’s program at RISD to refine her knowledge of traditional jewelry-making techniques and 3-D modeling. Her studies will also help her to continue developing her own work, which has already received recognition: James was a 2017 Saul Bell Award finalist in the Emerging Jewelry Artist category.
About the jewelry pictured: Valerie James’s Sublimation Earrings were constructed from sterling silver and stainless steel and etched with patterns that mimic the stages of ice forming. As a child, she always enjoyed cutting paper snowflakes. James aspired to recreate that tradition in this series.