FIT Students Introduced to The Jewelry Industry at JCK Las Vegas

The Plumb Club’s “Shaping the Future” Program Rewards Three Graduating Students with Experience of a Lifetime

NEW YORK – The Plumb Club has rewarded three of Fashion Institute of Technology’s top jewelry graduating students with the opportunity to attend their very first major jewelry trade show and meet the industry first-hand at JCK Las Vegas. While at the show, the students met with retailers and provided them with guided tours of the Jewelers Resource Center. They also met with The Plumb Club’s manufacturer and supplier members and assisted the Club’s social media team. Further, they enjoyed opportunities to network with the industry-at-large and source gems, components and other services, for their own work.

The initiative is part of a multi-pronged program developed by Michael O’Connor of The Plumb Club, along with FIT’s Kim Nelson and Michael Coan. The program consists of partnering jewelry program students with industry mentors to provide insight and guidance, as well as the potential to gain practical experience, via internships. that can lead to future employment. The program also helps raise the profile of this emerging talent to manufacturers and suppliers by giving students the opportunity to be highlighted in The Plumb Club newsletter, which is sent out to over 15K qualified people in the industry.

The program also provides a few of the top students the opportunity to see the industry in action during the annual JCK Las Vegas Show. This year’s three lucky graduating students were Yana Zhu, Skyer Bonolo, and Ariana Levy Stern, who each expressed how they benefitted from The Plumb Club program:

“I have learned as much about the industry from The Plumb Club as I did about the product in school,” said Yana Zhu. “Interacting with my mentor and learning from their experience has helped shape my views and understanding.”

Skyler Bonolo goes on, “It was an incredible opportunity to be selected by The Plumb Club to attend the JCK Show. It was invaluable to experience the largest jewelry trade show in the country for the first time and great to be able to connect and network with industry professionals.”

Ariana Levy Stern adds, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to have represented The Plumb Club at my first JCK Show. Having a mentor throughout my time at FIT was greatly beneficial as a newcomer to the industry and being able to meet and mingle with the members post-graduation has left me with a wealth of information and connections.  

Since 2021 and over two semesters, The Plumb Club’s “Shaping the Future” program has mentored 10 graduating students, provided numerous internships, various job opportunities and has rewarded 5 students with a hands-on “JCK Experience”.

Kim Nelson, assistant chair of jewelry design/fashion department at FIT concludes that the program has made a huge impact. “It has been thrilling for me to witness the impact The Plumb Club is having on our students. These interactions have made a meaningful contribution to their educational experience, and the concepts and insights they have been exposed to have found their way into classroom conversations and the work these students produce; they have been given a window on the jewelry industry in action that will illuminate their careers for decades to come. I wish I had access to these amazing opportunities when I was studying in the Jewelry Design Program at FIT back in the early 90’s, and I sincerely thank Michael O’Connor and the membership of The Plumb Club for making this commitment to the fresh minds and hands that will go on to build and shape the jewelry industry.”