(PRESS RELEASE) MJSA, the trade alliance dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, and Columbia Gem House, a renowned U.S. supplier of responsibly sourced colored gems, are partnering on a live online auction Nov. 1-7 to benefit the Navajo Nation Community. The auction will feature the custom-designed jewelry entered into this year’s MJSA Responsible Design Challenge (which Columbia Gem House sponsors), and all funds raised will go toward Navajo Nation replenishment following the hardships it experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Held annually, the Challenge has traditionally asked participating designers to render a piece of custom jewelry based on a fictional scenario and featuring select gemstones provided by Columbia Gem House. All entries are showcased on MJSA.org and opened to online voting in October; the winner is announced in the December MJSA Journal, the alliance’s monthly trade publication.
This year’s Challenge story focused on a wedding gift for a Native American woman dedicated to issues affecting Indigenous people worldwide. It also had a new twist: Rather than just submitting renderings for the online voting, the designers also created the pieces to then be auctioned. The participating designers are:
- Jennifer Dewey of J Dewey Designs in Ridgway, Colorado, whose pin was inspired by the totems that figure so much into Native American culture.
- Betty Padilla of Santa Clara, New Mexico. A Navajo, she submitted a sterling necklace with a crescent-shaped “naja” pendant featuring a hogan, the traditional Navajo home.
- Helen Chantler of Reflective Jewelry in Santa Fe, New Mexico, whose pendant features a bear and a hummingbird—a symbolic marriage of strength and joy.
- Dana Bronfman of New York City, whose pendant arranges the gems in a kaleidoscopic pattern that, she says, is appreciative of Navajo culture.
- Dominique Larson of DAL Art LLC in Chicago, whose necklace incorporates the gems in a way that alludes to the four mountains of the Navajo land and arrowheads.
- Donna Distefano Thomas of Donna Distefano Ltd. in New York City, who created a necklace with a hanging pendant inspired by the geometric shapes found in Navajo woven blankets.
Columbia Gem House will preview finished pieces, designer spotlights, and host Instagram LIVE events with some of the designers leading up to the auction, beginning Monday, November 1st. To find more information, you can visit www.columbiagemhouse.com and MJSA.org.
Columbia Gem House President Eric Braunwart said, “After years of working together, I have become both personally and professionally invested in our Navajo Nation partners, and the community as a whole. When Covid-19 first hit, we wanted to support any way we could and was thrilled when MJSA was interested in extending the Responsible Design Competition into a fundraising auction for Navajo Nation. This is the first of many we see in the future.”
“We were delighted when Columbia Gem House generously offered to donate the stones for this year’s challenge so that the designers could bring their designs to life and the resulting pieces could be auctioned off to raise money for the Navajo Nation,” says Shawna Kulpa, MJSA’s editorial director. “As an industry, it’s important that we continue finding ways to give back to the communities where we source so many of our materials.”
The auction page can be found at columbiagemhouse.com/pages/navajo-relief-auction.
For more information about the MJSA Responsible Design Challenge, visit MJSA.org.