Earlier this year I was one of three jewelry designers from the United States and Canada that was invited by MJSA (Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America) to participate in their 4th annual design competition, The Mystery Box Challenge.
Each of us received a box on the same day containing raw materials of metal and stones and would have one month to design, create and complete our finished pieces of jewelry using the supplied materials. Upon completion the 3 pieces would be highlighted in the MJSA Journal and would be auctioned off at the annual MJSA show in New York City with the proceeds going towards the organization’s educational scholarship fund. Our boxes contained a 4×4 inch sheet of sterling silver, 8 pearls (including 2 Tahitian black South Sea pearls), 12 small diamonds (6 white and 6 black diamonds) and a choice of 2 colored, stainless steel choker length cords.

When I received the phone call about participating in the event, I was filled with pride, excitement and apprehension about creating something that would stand out among the other international designers. That apprehension stayed with me until I received the mjsa-cover-jim-dailingMystery Box and saw the pearls inside. As soon as I saw those 8 beautiful pearls I knew instantly that things would be ok as I have always loved the natural beauty of pearls and felt a natural connection to these organic gems. An interesting thing happened right away with one of those amazing artist’s aha moments. Only a month before receiving the materials for the project I had completed reading Dana Sobel’s book Galileo’s Daughter and with that book still fresh in my mind not only did the design come to mind, but so did its title. within minutes And so my project for the design challenge was born.

Over the next 30 days much of my creative attention was focused on the engineering of Galileo’s Daughter as a neckpiece that would give an illusion of planetary orbit around the wearer’s neck as if the wearer were the center of the universe. To create the visual illusion that the pearls or planets in the piece were floating between the silver plains of orbit.

When my project was completed and ready to send off to the New York show I was fascinated to see that other than some minor fine tuning the finished design of Galileo’s Daughter had barely changed from the concept that spoke to me as the raw materials laid upon my dining room table. What a great experience and a reminder that the best is yet to come as far as being a designer and a craftsperson.