December 1, 2020 — Emily Kuvin, a New York City–based jewelry designer who specializes in 14k and sterling pieces, recently took top prize in MJSA’s 2020 Responsibly Sourced Design Challenge.
The contest is sponsored by MJSA, the trade alliance dedicated to professional success in jewelry making and design. MJSA annually invites designers to create custom renderings based on a fictional scenario published in the organization’s monthly magazine, MJSA Journal. This year, nine designers participated in the Challenge. They rendered jewelry that reflected the background and interests of the "client" in the story, a mother and college professor whose children want to commemorate her becoming a U.S. citizen. The designs also had to incorporate several responsibly sourced stones from the Challenge’s sponsor, Columbia Gem House of Vancouver, Washington.
The winner was chosen at the end of the year through an online poll open to the entire industry.
Kuvin’s winning entry was a 14k yellow mesh necklace that featured a large 26 x 24 mm Mexican mabe pearl. Kuvin accented the piece with mixed-color sapphire melee from Montana.
The "pearl represents Maria’s Mexican heritage and birth family and anchors the piece, just as her strength anchors her family," Kuvin explained. "The sapphires to the left of the pearl are her three children . . .while the nine sapphires joyously emanating to the right stand for the love, beauty, excitement, and knowledge Maria puts forth into family and the world.
"The mesh represents a fishing net to honor Maria’s hometown [in Mexico] and how her father made his livelihood," she added. "It also symbolizes the wide net that Maria has cast to encompass the personal and professional opportunities so far in her life."
Although she has been designing jewelry since high school, Kuvin’s career path includes jobs as a TV news anchor, reporter, and legal counsel (she has degrees in both law and journalism). She now runs her own studio, Emily Kuvin Jewelry in New York City.
In addition to Kuvin, the designers who participated in this year’s Challenge were Nanz Aalund of Nanz Aalund Art Jewelry in Poulsbo, Washington; Tammy Denmark of On U Designs in Kalispell, Montana; Sabrina Hoffman of Dally & Toil in Centralia, Washington; Emily Dubinsky of Emily Emmet Inc. in New York City; Niki Grandics of Enji Studio Jewelry in San Diego; Meredith Young of Meredith Young Jewelry in Park City, Utah; Betsy Cross of Betsy & Iya in Portland, Oregon; and Amy Smetana of Eye Candy by Amy in Chicago.
The sponsor, Columbia Gem House, has been building a mine-to-market supply chain for ethical gems for more than four decades, and it has worked with governments, nonprofits, miners, and cutters to ensure safe workplaces, fair wages, ethical sourcing, and environmentally responsible mining.