Partnership with Kessler’s Diamonds results in one-of-a-kind pieces and experiences

A piece by Michal Schwab, a senior who recently earned an internship through the Kessler's collaboration. | Submitted photo

For the past five years, UWM students studying jewelry and metalsmithing have gained career-defining experience thanks to a multifaceted partnership between Kessler’s Diamonds and the Peck School of the Arts. 

Kessler’s provides expensive materials and equipment, three scholarships each year, and exclusive availability to internships with the Wisconsin-based and employee-owned company. At a time when goldsmiths are difficult to come by, Kessler’s benefits from an expanding pool of talent already familiar with their business practices. 

Freedom to Create

This past fall, 29 jewelry and metalsmithing students received a complimentary diamond and silver casting grain from Kessler’s to create a unique work of art. For students, this was an invitation to be truly creative with their art and experiment in ways they typically would not be able to, largely due to the cost of materials. 

Anthony Zelazoski, a current student in the program, described how receiving materials from Kessler’s allowed him to make a unique piece without investing his own money: “I made a one-of-a-kind necklace with the diamond they donated. I got to work freely on a piece and take greater risks than I would have otherwise.” 

Zelazoski is just one example of students who create pieces that break away from the formal pieces that diamond stores typically offer. Peck School students design work that is challenging and complex, showcasing the range of their craft and the skills they have harnessed through education. 

A Sparkling Exhibition 

Once completed, Kessler’s will display student work at their location in Germantown leading up to UWM x Kessler’s Sparkle Gala, one of the focal points of the collaboration.  

“A week before the show, Kessler’s rearranges a few store cases and displays the pieces the students made,” said Erica Meier, teaching faculty and interim area head of jewelry and metalsmithing. 

All 29 jewelry and metalsmithing students will have their work voted on by Kessler’s employees. The results of the vote determine which three students will be awarded scholarships.  

Kessler’s also photographs and promotes the work students produce, ensuring they receive the recognition they deserve. 

From the Classroom to the Workshop 

The gala additionally serves as an occasion for students interested in an internship to take tours of the goldsmithing workshop. 

“From an experiential learning side of things, students get a sense of their atmosphere, environment, and staff,” said Meier. “It gives them a taste of what the internship would look like.”  

Michal Schwab, a senior, was Kessler’s most recent intern. “Throughout my time as Kessler’s intern, I got an insight into how every department functions. I did a lot of polishing and finishing, a lot of bench work, and even got to understand the business of ordering and the sales floor.”  

Growing Careers 

The collaboration with Kessler’s has grown significantly since it began in 2018, and students have been provided a variety of learning experiences within the partnership that illustrate various career paths within the field of Jewelry and Metalsmithing. 

Many students involved with Kessler’s have gone on to work full-time, including former intern and current goldsmith Abby Seymer. Her time with Kessler’s proved to her that she could “have a future in metals, not just have a degree in it.” 

Doreen Rosen, Kessler’s Director of Service and Repair, would agree. “I think some see goldsmithing as a hobby, rather than a career. Bringing students to our headquarters and offering shop tours has been a real eye-opener that has drawn many people to the program. The student body has more than doubled since last semester!” 

Story by Jason McCullum ’25