a group of people standing next to each other
Lili Dailey and mother, Luisa Johnson-Dailey, along with Edelle and Stacey Attales pose with the winning jewelry designs for Mother's Day.

The entire student body from Treasure Village Montessori eagerly gathered for an awards ceremony on the playground ahead of Mother’s Day. Little did they know two students from the Islamorada charter school had won a countywide coveted Mother’s Day jewelry design competition.

Equally as surprised were two mothers, presented with pieces of jewelry meticulously designed by their children and then created by Blue Marlin Jewelry.

“I was thinking I wasn’t going to get any presents for Mother’s Day because I hadn’t taken her shopping,” joked TVM middle school teacher Luisa Johnson-Dailey. Her daughter Lili’s design of a cat pendant made out of white gold and titanium won in the fourth-to-seventh- grade category. 

“I know my mom loves cats and I love cats,” said Lili of the inspiration behind the necklace.

Mother of three, Stacey Attales, thought she was going to the school for a meeting about the yearbook. She had no idea she was about to receive her new favorite piece of jewelry.

“Total surprise, total shock, tears of joy instantly,” said Attales after receiving a sunset pendant designed by her daughter Edelle. “She amazes me every day,” added Attales. Edelle is a third-grade student at TVM. Her design won the kindergarten-through-third- grade category.

Edelle’s sunset pendant was made out of white and rose gold.

This was the 8th Annual Saige Raiche Memorial Junior Designer Mother’s Day Contest. The contest was named after a local fourth grader who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2016, just shy of her 10th birthday.

“Her mom and dad were good friends of mine,” said Armando Gonzalez, owner of Blue Marlin Jewelry. After Saige passed away, Gonzalez made the rose gold locket Saige had designed with the words “loving, caring, and family” engraved on it with a picture of her inside. Gonzalez decided to name the contest in her memory.

In its eighth year now, the Mother’s Day Jewelry competition is about more than just the design.

“Besides the jewelry that they draw, a story as to why your mom should get it is also a part of it,” said Gonzalez, who relies on a panel of judges to pick the winners.

“If they get chosen by the judges, I make it just like that,” added Gonzalez. 

Treasure Village Montessori art teacher Diana McGuirk-Hille said students started working on their designs back in February. 

“We make it part of our curriculum,” said McGuirk-Hille. “So it’s something that I teach for a week about jewelry design, gemstones, different kinds of metals, everything that they can use for their work,” she added.

Having two students from Treasure Village win in two categories is quite the achievement and a wonderful surprise for their unsuspecting mothers.

“Edelle loves to draw and do art but when she puts her heart into something it becomes even more special,” said mom Stacey Attales as she proudly displayed her sunset necklace.

“I just like honoring mothers,” said Gonzalez. “Mother’s are really special. Without mothers our lives couldn’t exist.”

Kellie Butler Farrell
Kellie Butler Farrell is a journalist who calls Islamorada home. Kellie spent two decades in television news and also taught journalism at Barry University in Miami and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She loves being outside, whether spending time on the water or zipping down the Old Highway on her electric bike, Kellie is always soaking up the island lifestyle. Kellie and her husband own an electric bike rental company, Keys Ebikes.