Jeweler Shayna Wins MJSA Mystery Box Challenge

We’re excited to announce that Jeweler Shayna at our Seattle Studio has won MJSA’s (Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America) Mystery Box Challenge! Every year MJSA sends out mystery boxes full of interesting materials for jewelers to create a unique piece of jewelry in a month’s time.

Included in the box this year were a variety of gemstones, a sheet of sterling silver, and a block of cocobolo wood.

[Image courtesy of MJSA]

This year, the jewelers were also asked to create a design for a fictitious client, ‘Sarah Williams’ a recent law school graduate passionate about ending human rights abuses in Africa. Below are excerpts from Shayna’s entry to the contest explaining her design choices in a letter to her client.

Jeweler Shayna with her winning brooch design.

“Your fascination with Africa made it a natural choice to use the elephant intaglio citrine gem as the centerpiece. And, though a brooch is an uncommon format for jewelry these days, I couldn’t escape the idea that it offered him a place “to live”–as an artist it opened up the possibilities for context. In my mind, the way a brooch is worn–its shape and location on the body–speaks to the identity you’re choosing for yourself and your career, functioning like a name tag.” -Shayna

“The wood is carved with the ani bere pattern and symbolizes patience, self-containment, self-discipline, and self-control. I thought it spoke directly to your commitment to your education and chosen profession. The ornamentation around the frame of the elephant is known as “Brave Man’s Belt” which indicates the wearer is brave and fearless.” – Shayna

“The back of the brooch is meant to appeal to your appreciation of Africa as a whole. I wanted there to be an element that is special just for you, as the wearer. To me, the grain of the wood evoked a sunset, which is the perfect way to embody the conclusion of your education and transition to professional.”


Shayna at work at her bench in the Seattle Studio.