Variety in Designs and Materials Mark the Work of This Year’s Jewelry Design Grads

From a class that began during COVID lockdown with 18 students, eight are graduating this week, making it through the Jewelry Design program with “perseverance, dedication and a whole lot of talent,” says Prof. Michael Coan.

The students will be entering a new world, with greater demands for more “personalized” jewelry, says Prof. Coan. That’s thanks in part to a broader range of perspectives from a more diverse customer base.

Headdress by Jess Roe

“The most valuable take-away for our graduating students, is that jewelry, regardless of economic, political, and financial conditions, survives and even flourishes, if one is attune to the pulse of the people,” says Prof. Coan.

The graduating students’ creations were crafted from materials ranging from precious metals and gems to sensuous polished wood. The work was created for the students’ capstone collections, the culmination of JD 267 Jewelry Seminar/Best Business Practices class.

Earrings by Ariana Stern

Kim Nelson, Chair of Jewelry Design says “The work show’s how boldly they overcome the formidable challenges of COVID-19 lockdown to create highly facile and personally expressive pieces.

“It’s one of our strongest presentations in regards to the interplay of traditional and digital technologies, as well as precious and non-precious approaches.”

Examples are the designs of Ariana Stern and Yana Zhus. Stern’s Greek-inspired earrings, above, contain over 150 stones. They are part of her Fine Jewelry Collection.

Stern’s earrings, as well as Zhus’ necklace, below, can be fitted with precious metals and top quality diamonds and emeralds respectively. The pieces pictured are representations in silver, black spinels, and CZ’s. Priced for precious metals, the earrings are valued at $9,800, and the necklace at $79,000 (gulp!).

Necklace by Yana Zhus

“The Graduating Student Exhibition for us is a tight show in terms of design concepts and fabrication,” says Prof. Coan.

Two of the students, he tells us, have already gotten offers for some of their work from the Exhibition.

Cuff Bracelet by Hye Lee

“I’m particularly excited by the way a number of our graduates included sophisticated applications of enamel to bring color and even transparency to their work,” says Prof. Nelson.

For example, Hye Lee’s bracelet, above, made of glass enamel representing winter (the cool acrylic) turning into spring flowers. It is an art piece, priced for some lucky wearer at $3,250.”

Skyler Bonolo’s wood necklace, below, is was a part of his Art Jewelry Collection. It shows a “strong horizontal design statement, employing several types of woods,” says Prof. Coan.

Necklace by Skyler Bonolo

Rachel Egenberg’s necklace, below, is from her Fashion Jewelry Collection. Wood is used in a manner that simulates ivory.  Prof. Coan says that Egenberg has “an affinity for design elements that strike the deeper recesses of the soul-wrapped turquoise, a gem that symbolized wealth and status in ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia and the Americas.” The wrapping technique is one that does not involve soldering.

Wood necklace by Rachel Egenberg

“How to make customized jewelry work for the masses will be a challenge. I feel these students, who have been tested with physical restrictions, will be making a tremendous impact in the jewelry industry,” says Prof. Michael Coan

Cardona Khyla’s earrings, below, reflect her interest in an ethereal kingdom of sprites, elves and fairies. Prof. Coan describes the earrings as “transformative.” They belong to her Fashion Jewelry Collection and are made of gold-plated brass and briolette cut CZ’s. Subtle, delicate and striking!

Earrings by Khyla Cardona

Alyssa Schwartzberg used a technique called “marriage of metals” for her rabbit design, below. She fused colored Japanese metals, such as Shibuichi, defined as one part silver to three parts copper.

“There was never a doubt of the wonderful creativity displayed by our students, but the ability to bring them to fruition within an uncertain environment is nothing short of spectacular! It’s a milestone moment,” says Prof. Coan.

Rabbit and necklace in background by Alyssa Schwartzberg

Says Prof. Nelson, “Due to the pandemic closures, this became a very small, close, and personal group of talented and dedicated students. I will certainly miss seeing their faces and their work in the classroom.”

For more information about the School of Art and Design Graduating Student Exhibition go to: GSE22.

Find more of the students’ work at: Yana Zhu on IG @yana_zhu_; Skyler Bonolo’s website; Jess Roe on IG @lastroe; Rachel Egenberg on IG @RachelEgenberg; and Hye Lee on IG: @hyelee_v.

To learn more about the Jewelry Design program visit:  Jewelry Design at FIT.

Images used with permission.

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