Going Back to School

Enrolling in the NYIAD, formerly Sheffield School, to learn the proper techniques, materials, and tools for jewelry design, was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The course is very well designed and the teaching methods used most senses, which was extraordinary. I had reading material, CDs to listen to, DVDs to watch, and hands-on demonstrations, which you then applied to the assignments given for evaluation. The lessons offered all the information needed to make you knowledgeable about everything you must know as a professional jeweler.

Each time you send in your work and receive the critiques is a moment where you could ask yourself: should I continue or should I just stop and keep going with whatever I have been doing so far, which is likely the reason we decided to go through this process to begin with. Fortunately for me, the decision of continuing was not a difficult one because my work was always praised and complimented. It amazed me how, from the simplest wire loop for a homework assignment to the most elaborated original piece in my collection, the evaluator used words and phrases like "precise", "perfect", original", "unique", "tasteful", "beautiful", "elegant", "classic taste and aesthetic", and "clean", which was always exactly the result I was trying to achieve. 

As the course got more into designing, after achieving the "making" part, I became more decisive about the fact that once I completed the course and got certified, I would be to go all the way and pursue a new career. I immediately started researching and studying the best designers in history, their lives, stories, and motivations. As pearls are my favorite gemstone, I purchased books, looked up and studied everything I could about them, as well as jewelry throughout the decades. Although I do not follow trends too much, I did look up how jewelry has changed its meaning over time. These actions led me to create pieces that integrated pearls in different types of designs, from a simply shaped wire earring to a silk knotted necklace, and with different materials, from the most simple to the more costly and delicate. As I got more confident with my craftsmanship, I evolved, experimented, and applied my artistry until I developed my own style.  

I feel like every woman or man, no matter their age, style, color preferences, should wear pearls somehow, besides jewelry and accessories in general. That is why I focused on using pearls in all of my creations. My inspiration and creativity became part of my being. I look at everything with a profound sense of meaning and beauty. I started creating pieces out of my imagination and by inspiration and put all my God given talents and abilities to work.

Due to life circumstances, I went into a "freeze" phase, where I did not touch a bead, a book, a finding, or anything else that had to do with jewelry. I was completely detached of what had become a new me. I decided to reach out to my school's Jewelry Design advisor who promptly responded and gave me a boost of motivation, which encouraged me to go back and work harder. As part of my own commitment on a trip to NYC, I visited the school and meet with Harley, the Jewelry Design course advisor and designer, herself. What was supposed to be a quick introduction became a 2-hour sit-down of enriched conversation. I walked out feeling like I could not wait to be back home and do everything I had to do to finish the course, gain my diploma, and start my new career and business.

For certification, some assignments were not directly related to jewelry making and were more business oriented. Since I was going to start my business, I decided to work on all the options in this area instead of just choosing one, which was the requirement. I participated in craft fairs, hosted a trunk show, and started to build my website, all with the support of family and friends. I enjoyed all of the tasks and the experiences provided me with a perspective of how I wanted to move forward with my brand. I've completed all my units: their lessons, assignments, tests, photography, samples, and packaging, as well as the designed pieces implementing the instructor's methods.

My unique jewelry designs and packaging garnered great approval and was a big part of my incredible last evaluation, which awarded me the diploma as a Jewelry Designer. Most importantly, I've gained the self confidence to seriously and responsibly say that I am a Jewelry Designer-maker graduate from the NYIAD, New York Institute of Art and Design, a responsible, well-established institution to whom I owe my future. I am thankful to everyone that I came in contact with throughout the 4 years as a student and to those I still keep in touch with. I am part of your history and you are part of my story and I will always be proud of it and will make you proud! They are the reason I can offer you a high quality little piece of art done with proficiency and much love. Talk or write to you soon...

Agnes Haddad