‘Handmade with love and intention’

Westfield resident spreads her light with handmade jewelry


Photo by Maxine Schwartz

Abby Jarecki, Iris Editor-In-Chief

When Maxine Schwartz walks into the room, her smile glitters almost as much as her gold, hand- made jewelry. Schwartz, statuesque in her presence, glows, and you can’t help but feel that you know her somehow.

You may have seen a 13-year-old girl wearing a silver hamsa around her neck as she reads from the Torah at her bat mitzvah, or a West eld mom with a gold nugget reading “love” on her chest as she picks her children up from school. You may have noticed a penny-sized Tree of Life on the women around town or seen a red string on their wrists as they shop downtown.

You can tell there’s something special in our town, and that West eld mom Maxine Schwartz of MAS Designs is spreading something beautiful here.

Through her unique handmade jewelry business

and lovely, calming nature, Schwartz connects with the community. “I really believe that, in each one of us, we all have a little bit of light,” Schwartz said, “and when you connect with somebody, that per- son’s light grows, and that’s what I love to do—to see that person’s light grow.”

Born in South Africa, Schwartz grew up around the beauty of the country’s nature and culture. No matter where the wind takes her, seeking out natural scenery brings her back there, “whether it’s trees or mountains or the sea or the light in the ocean.”

With a worldly mindset and soul of connection, Schwartz spent many years in the corporate world, but she eventually came back fulltime to focus on her passion for art and creation.

MAS Designs sprouted from the idea of a single mitzvah: the Hebrew word for doing good. When war broke out in the Middle East in 2014, Schwartz decided to sell $25 Red String Bracelets in order to help the suffering Israeli children. Maxine has fam- ily in Israel, making the country near and dear to her heart.

Rather than simply writing a check to this cause, Schwartz decided to let her network of friends, fam- ily and colleagues participate to help in this fund- raiser. Eventually, with the help of all of the Red String wearers, Schwartz raised over $40,000 to support Israel and its children.

Westfield mom Lauren Hammer bought her Tree of Life necklace from MAS designs in 2017 after the passing of WHS student Terry DiFalco. She wanted a meaningful necklace that would “connect her to her memory.”

The Tree of Life necklace took on another mean- ing after the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Schwartz decided that all proceeds from the already-meaningful necklace would go to support the Pittsburgh community in the after- math of the tragedy; the necklace sales raised over

$30,000 to help the community.
“People [were] so happy to be able to do something,” Maxine said, smiling. And with the symbolic Tree of Life, people were able to show “that they’re proud to be Jewish, and they’re anti-hate and pro-love.”

Hammer loves the fact that she is “supporting a locally owned business that supports causes [she] tend[s] to believe in.”

MAS Designs wearers feel a special connection to Schwartz’s jewelry, which is “handmade with love and intention” as described on the company’s website.

MAS Designs enthusiast and West eld mom Lauren LaConti describes her pieces as having “some sort of spirituality,” and being “even imper- fect in their creation, making [them] truly one of a kind.”

Schwartz’s jewelry and smile continue to shine and you can’t help but feel the magic in MAS De- signs, just as you feel the magic of her presence.