The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) has announced its new cohort of participants for its nationwide Jewelry Loupe Project program. WJA chose 14 emerging designers to participate in this year’s program, from over 100 applicants.
WJA’s Jewelry Loupe Project is a free, six-month “business development and mentorship program for emerging designers within their first five years of business,” according to a WJA statement. The program was developed in 2019 by former San Francisco WJA chapter leader Marie McCarthy of Fiat Lux, and is now in its fifth year. De Beers signed on as a sponsor recently, which allowed WJA to expand the program nationwide in 2022.
The 14 emerging designers who will participate in the Jewelry Loupe Program between April-September 2023 are: Alice Son, Ava Schlesinger, Betsy Yates, Caitlin Velázquez-Fagley, Jennifer Hillyer, June Cream, Kelly Lannen, Maura Green, Olivia Sugarman, Renata Cambauva, Sarah Bernstein, Sardwell, Tamsin Rasor, and Tiffany Bausch Weld.
“Now in its fifth year, WJA’s Jewelry Loupe Project is a staple program in our community,” said WJA executive director Jennifer Markas. “The level of mentorship, training, and networking these emerging designers receive is really unparalleled. We are proud of the designers that commit to the rigorous program and we are grateful for the mentors and experts who dedicate so much of their time to uplift the next generation of designers and business owners.”
This year’s mentors include designers, on-air talent, and seasoned industry professionals. They are: Angela Monaco, April Higashi, Ariel Gordon, Valerie Madison, Marie McCarthy, Viviana Langhoff, Michele Lau, Victoria Wieck, Morgan Miller, Rekha-Leigh Punch, Tanya Parikh, Jacqueline Raffi, Kate Rogowski, Ivette Nersesyan-Stephanopoulos, and Lilly Mullen.
Céline Assimon, CEO of De Beers Jewellers and De Beers Forevermark, said in the same statement, “At De Beers, we deeply value the contributions that women make to our businesses, the diamond and jewelry industry, and all of society. We are committed to accelerating economic inclusion and uplifting diverse voices to help shape the future through various programs which support and provide opportunities for women as part of our ‘Building Forever’ ambitions. We are proud to support WJA’s Jewelry Loupe Project as we are aligned in our core values.”
Through the program, WJA has trained and mentored roughly 50 emerging designers so far. Here’s how it works: each designer is paired with a mentor; designers attend virtual sessions hosted by experts in design, marketing, sourcing, manufacturing, retail, packaging and pricing; and the program culminates with a critique—mentors provide constructive feedback to prepare the designers to launch their collections. (Anna Samsonova of Samsonova Consulting, and a special projects consultant to WJA, is helping facilitate the expert sessions and coordinate parts of the program in 2023.)
To learn more, and to support the Jewelry Loupe Project, please contact Jennifer Markas, WJA’s executive director, at [email protected].