Recent Graduates Offer Success Tips to GIA Students

Four speakers sit on a stage in front of an audience.
Recent graduates, from left, Diane Kryszewski, Kelsey Hickox, Spirit Freeman and Mariana Gomez, spoke to students in September as part of GIA's Guest Lecture Series. Photo by Emily Lane/GIA

A panel of GIA graduates recently shared the various career paths they’ve taken in the gem and jewelry industry, following their love of gems, design and creating beautiful jewelry, as part of GIA’s Guest Lecture Series. They talked about how they moved from one stage to the next in their careers, including how they used their knowledge to meet their goals and the risks they took to accomplish them.

They also shared tips on how to:

  • prepare for an interview
  • find a mentor
  • develop your “elevator” speech
  • work trade shows
  • use trade publications


Diane Kryszewski, GIA GJ (2017) – Goldsmith with Kesslers Diamonds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kryszewski took a jewelry making class in university and became “instantly obsessed.” She took a desk job for seven years, however, before she made the leap to GIA and the start of her career as a goldsmith. She shared tips to taking bench tests.

The most important thing she learned at GIA: “The quality control aspect of the Graduate Jeweler Program really prepared me for what to expect in my job.”

Kelsey Hickox, GIA GG, AJP and Jewelry Design Certificate (2014) – Regional lead valuation manager of fine jewelry and watches at The RealReal in Los Angeles. Hickox studied business and fashion merchandising at university, which led her to jewelry and GIA. She said her career involves fashion “as a whole,” which has brought her “full circle” in her career.

The most important thing she learned at GIA: “Don’t try to figure out what type of gem it is, let the gemstone tell you what it is."

Spirit Freeman, GIA GG and AJP (2016) and JDT (2018) – Former CAD designer and technical engineer for Christian Tse Designs & Manufacturing, Inc. in Los Angeles. Freeman is a lapidary artist, photojournalist, gemologist and jewelry design technician. He attended GIA and shared how finding a faceting machine led him to study gem cutting and rough grading and analysis in Thailand. He offered advise on how to market yourself as a gem dealer.

The most important thing he learned at GIA: “Being flexible and being very well communicated. You really need to be able to assess what your customer is wanting and what their expectations are. If you don’t know how to communicate with them, it can be a disaster.”

Mariana Gomez, GIA GG and AJP (2015) – Designer and production manager for Martin Katz in Beverly Hills. Gomez studied design in university and fell in love with jewelry, which led her to GIA. She was very involved with the Student Body Council and was able to make connections with jewelry designers, gem dealers, manufacturers in Los Angeles, which led to her first job in the industry.

The most important thing she learned at GIA: “Understanding gems, in general, (all of the characteristics of specific gems), really, really helps when designing jewelry.”

Each speaker also emphasized the importance of networking, including keeping in touch with fellow students and utilizing the connections you make in industry organizations, such as the GIA Alumni Association, AGTA and the Women’s Jewelry Association. They emphasized taking advantage of your time at GIA by using GIA’s resources, such as becoming involved with student groups and using Career Services.

Watch the panel discussion:

Check GIA’s social media accounts for information on future events:
GIA Education and GIA Alumni Association Global News & Events on Facebook and GIA News on Twitter.

Amanda J. Luke is a senior communications manager at GIA. She is the editor of the GIA Insider and was the editor of Alum Connect and The Loupe magazine.