“Taking a Leap of Faith” by Ashley C. Chan, G.G., GIA Jewelry Design Certificate, A.J.P.

Faith is a small five-letter word that holds the enormous potential to be life-changing. It is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “fidelity to one’s promises; sincerity of intentions.” For the past five years, I have worked in the luxury jewelry industry in Chicago. Being born and raised there, I’ve always yearned to live in another city, specifically New York, to experience the exciting unknown. At the end of August 2013 I did something bold and gusty: I quit a wonderful, secure, full-time paying job to move to New York in order to pursue my passion for design by enrolling in GIA’s Jewelry Design Course. Needless to say my family and friends thought I was absolutely crazy. I on the other hand, decided it was time to take a “leap of faith” after some deep thought about my life, career and where it was all headed. I am at the age where I am not tied down or have any strings attached. I’ve always been drawn to New York and its vibrant energy since my first visit over 12 years ago. So what did I have to lose?  True that in this unpredictable economy I lost my job security, but now was the time to actually put my thoughts into actions and those actions into motions. I had to have faith and believe in myself first and foremost, which can be scary at times when making such brazen decisions. Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” My dream has always been to draw and design jewelry. Thus, I mustered up the courage, took the leap and moved to Manhattan in the beginning of October ready to begin my life-changing experience.

My time in NYC has been thoroughly enjoyable and has afforded me the opportunity to expand my professional network. I was able to meet and speak with both renowned and burgeoning jewelry designers at events in the city. Everyone has been so welcoming and open with sharing their knowledge of the industry with me, contrary to the stereotype of “rude New Yorkers” I was forewarned about.

GIA’s Jewelry Design Course was very intense, rigorous and challenging. I came here not being able to draw at the beginning of the course and can now transform my ideas into beautiful pieces of jewelry! I am hoping to find a permanent job so I can stay in NYC, but if I go back home I would not consider these few months here a failure because I’m going home. Besides, I came here and accomplished what I set out to do: learn how to draw, design, and soak in all the cultural riches this city has to offer. It has been a personally fulfilling journey these past few months and one of the best experiences of my life. All in all, I am happy that I took the big leap and do not have any regrets.

This is the question I pose to readers: do YOU have the courage to take a “leap of faith” in your professional life just to follow your dreams?