Majors

This New Group Aims To Support Black Jewelry Professionals

MajorsNov 04, 2020

This New Group Aims To Support Black Jewelry Professionals

Led by a board comprised entirely of Black professionals, the Black in Jewelry Coalition is dedicated to fostering inclusivity and opportunity.

The board members of the new Black in Jewelry Coalition are, from left to right starting at the top: President and co-founder Annie Doresca, Vice President and co-founder Elyssa Jenkins, Treasurer Malyia McNaughton, Secretary Lisa Garris, Communications Chair Nellie Barnett, Nominations Chair Reginald Johnson, Chair of Education Adrianne Sanogo, Corporate Outreach Chair Miya Owens, and Events Chair Lisette Scott.
New York—There is a new group that’s a first of its kind for the jewelry industry, and it intends to be catalyst for change.

The Black in Jewelry Coalition (BIJC) is an international nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the inclusion and advancement of Black professionals in the gem and jewelry industry. 

“Black people work in and support the gem and jewelry industry, yet there is disparity in our access to resources and opportunities,” BIJC President and co-founder Annie Doresca said. “Black in Jewelry Coalition was formed to break this cycle.” 



Conceived in the midst of the national conversation about racial inequity and injustice and officially launched last week, the organization is led by a nine-member board comprised entirely of Black professionals, which is what makes it unique.


“We have a shared experience of what it’s like to be Black in the jewelry industry and because of that, we can identify roadblocks—some we have personally faced—and create solutions, but most importantly, access,” Doresca said. 

“I feel it is my duty to be part of this change, and I appreciate all the efforts and support by the jewelry industry to work toward this goal.” 

The new nonprofit is launching strategic initiatives to help professionals in every facet of the jewelry industry.

For example, jewelry designers can look forward to a consumer-facing directory of Black jewelry designers and Black-owned jewelry design companies, as well as access to funding and resources for developing relationships with major distributors, manufacturers, miners and gem dealers. 

Students will have access to exclusive scholarships and internships. 

In addition, BIJC will develop programming and resources focused on establishing diversity in the hiring process—including senior leadership development—and closing the pay gap in the jewelry industry for those in the BIPOC community. 

“The jewelry industry has been slowly awakening to realize that it has not been a hospitable environment for people of color, especially Black people,” said BIJC Vice President and co-founder Elyssa Jenkins.
 
“Black in Jewelry Coalition is needed now more than ever for all Black professionals in corporate, trade, jewelry design, mining, manufacturing and more—even Black consumers. Many of us have been working for quite some time toward these initiatives, both with and without our allies, so that there will be true change that stands the test of time.” 


The Black in Jewelry Coalition board members are as follows.
 
Annie Doresca, BIJC president; chief financial officer at Jewelers of America
Elyssa Jenkins, BIJC vice president; director of membership and digital content at Jewelers Vigilance Committee
Malyia McNaughton, BIJC treasurer; owner of Made By Malyia
Lisa Garris, BIJC secretary; human resources director, Lab & Research, North America at the Gemological Institute of America
Adrianne Sanogo, BIJC chair of education; Graduate Gemologist
Lisette Scott, BIJC events chair; owner of Jam + Rico
Miya Owens, BIJC corporate outreach chair; associate counsel and director of mediation at Jewelers Vigilance Committee
Nellie Barnett, BIJC communications chair; manager of media and public relations at the Gemological Institute of America
Reginald Johnson, BIJC nominations chair; chief diversity officer and senior vice president NA Field Human Resources at Signet Jewelers

To learn more, become a member or donate, visit the Black in Jewelry Coalition website.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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