2023 MJSA Responsibly Sourced Design Challenge

March 11, 2023


We are kicking off the year strong here at the Metalicious HQ!

Earlier this year, I applied to compete in the MJSA Responsibly Sourced Design Challenge-- and literally jumped for joy when I found out that I was among the group of designers selected to participate!

Basically, the MJSA Challenge is all about creating unique jewelry designs using responsibly sourced gems.

The challenge invites talented designers to use their imagination and bring to life a custom piece of jewelry based on a fictional story, using gems provided by Columbia Gem House.

The winning design will be chosen by readers in an online poll, and the final pieces will be auctioned off for a good cause. Last year's auction raised $7,000 for Nest, a nonprofit supporting the artisan and maker economy.

So, the design challenge?

Create a finished piece of jewelry using specific gemstones and sterling silver for under $2,000 retail. 


Here are the gemstones I will be getting from Columbia Gem House, also a sponsor of this challenge:

Picture of a collection of pearls and gemstones

• Two cultured mini mabe Cortez pearls from Mexico
• Two 3 mm Grape Garnet rounds from India
• Two 3 mm Neon Green beryl triangles from Nigeria
• Two 4 mm by 2 mm Teal Tourmaline baguettes from Nigeria


And here is the fictional story portraying the woman I am designing for. I really loved her because she represents the passion, courage and vibrance of my Rockstar clients.

Here is Tracy's story:

Fifty-two years old and newly divorced from her college sweetheart, Tracy was excited to start the next phase of her life. Although she loved being a mother to her daughters Emily and Ashley, with her youngest about to graduate from college, she was ready to rediscover who she was beyond being someone’s wife and mother.

Not that she had arrived at this place easily. Tracy never imagined that, at this point in her life, she would be trying to navigate her future alone. She had always seen herself planning dinner parties and taking exciting vacations with her husband. Ever since they married shortly after college, she had imagined them traveling the world—she had especially wanted to tour the pyramids in Mexico, ride horses on the country’s white sand beaches, and swim in Cancun’s turquoise water. But over the past several years, she and her husband realized they had grown apart, and were better as friends than married. She had not been alone for a long time, and she initially found the prospect daunting. But one of her old friends from college, Anne, helped her get past her fears. The two regularly got together for wine nights and hiking trips, and over the course of a year, Anne made Tracy realize that there could be a whole new chapter of her life waiting for her.

Although she had studied accounting in college, Tracy had put her career aside when her daughters were born. As they got older, she stepped back into the working world but opted to pursue part-time positions that would allow her the time to be there for her daughters. Although she initially considered getting back into accounting full time, she decided that she wanted to explore other career options and enrolled in a few courses at a nearby state college to see what might spark her interest. When she was young-er, she had focused her college years on a subject that would lead to a secure job. Now she was going to take the courses that had always interested her—art history, zoology, and photography.

She also decided to pursue an interest that her now ex-husband had always talked her out of pursuing—motorcycle lessons. She had fallen in love with the feeling of freedom a motorcycle gave her, and she had enlisted the help of the class instructor in selecting the best one for her to purchase. She and a classmate were already making plans for some trips to take on their bikes.

Although Tracy had always been physically active, she struggled to find local sports groups that appealed to her.

Emily suggested she sign up for the Meetup app, as it might better help her find things that suited her interests. A few days after downloading the app, Tracy discovered a booming women’s roller derby league in her area. She immediately signed up for the league’s next open call and ordered a new pair of roller skates.

Emily and Ashley were thrilled to see their mother thriving—she had even begun talking about taking that trip to Mexico—and they wanted to do something special to celebrate the start of her new life. Tracy had always loved jewelry, and the girls decided that having a special piece made for her would give her something that would remind her that the best may still be yet to come.

They reached out to their uncle Matt, who had owned a retail jewelry store for a number of years. Matt mentioned that he still had some stones on hand from his gem-sourcing trips and that they were welcome to select some they thought Tracy would like.

As the daughters reviewed Matt’s collection, he recommended they take a couple of Cortez pearls, as he knew about his sister’s long-standing desire to visit Mexico and thought she would appreciate their uniqueness. In addition, since Tracy was a vibrant woman, both in personality and in style, the daughters were immediately drawn to a colorful cluster: a pair of Teal Tourmaline baguettes, Neon Green beryl triangles, and Grape Garnet rounds. The girls knew their mother would love the stones’ vibrancy.

Your mission is to help Emily and Ashley create a special piece for their mother using the gemstones they received from their uncle. The cost of additional materials and labor cannot exceed a budget of $2,000.


Stay tuned to find out what design I came up with!