By Ashley Davis
Ashley.Davis@nationaljeweler.com
New York—After last year’s protests over police brutality against Black people forced Americans to confront systemic racism head-on, many in the jewelry industry wondered what role race plays in limiting opportunities for Black designers and professionals.

Upon reflection, the Natural Diamond Council and designer Lorraine Schwartz have come up with a program they hope will provide equity for minority jewelry designers.

The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative offers $1 million of diamond credit to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) designers.

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In an exclusive statement to National Jeweler, Natural Diamond Council CEO David Kellie explained why obtaining credit will help lower the barrier to entry in the jewelry world.

“Offering eligible designers the access to build relationships with diamantaires directly will help actualize longevity for their business and the whole of the diamond industry,” he said.

“We're committed to the advancement of equity in our industry. Not only is inclusion the right path to forge from a human standpoint, but also for business. More diverse perspectives open the doors to expanded innovation and deeper creativity, which is the driving force of our industry.”

The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative will allow BIPOC jewelry designers to establish credit in their own names and learn the process of diamond financing, as well as consignment and memo terms.

Designers also will establish relationships with diamond dealers, which is difficult to do without references or a history in the industry.

Schwartz, a third-generation jewelry maker known for her array of one-of-a-kind high jewelry seen on famous faces at the world’s buzziest red carpets like the Oscars and Golden Globes, explained her motivation for spearheading the initiative with NDC in a press release.

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“It is past time for our industry to be more supportive and share the magic of diamonds with a larger, more diverse group of jewelers,” she said.

“Helping BIPOC designers, and more specifically the underrepresented Black designer community, gain entry to diamond vendors and credit financing as well as expand their businesses is a necessary step in the process towards a more equitable industry.

“This program is another opportunity for me to give back to those communities that have embraced me and have been a wonderful part of my journey as a designer over the last 20 years.”

The program will offer $20,000 of credit to selected jewelry designers, as well as mentorship. It will also act as a guarantor with diamond suppliers.

With $1 million on offer, that means 50 BIPOC-owned and -led brands have an opportunity to participate.

In addition to Schwartz and NDC CEO Kellie, the selection committee will feature Vanity Fair Fashion Director Nicole Chapoteau, and celebrity stylist and designer Jason Rembert.

Celebrity friends of Schwartz like Pharrell, Kelly Rowland and Tina Knowles will act as honorary advisors, lending their insights during various phases of the initiative.

Kellie added, “Creativity and innovation are the forces that drive our industry forward and in order for that to happen, we need more diverse viewpoints. This initiative is designed to support emerging BIPOC designers by giving them access to the diamond jewelry industry, which has traditionally been limited, and fostering their ingenuity and successes. We know that more diversity is needed in our field, and that this will benefit the designers and the industry as a whole.”

Applications are available now at NaturalDiamonds.com/Eddi. Credit will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, with the selection committee continuing to review designer applications until the $1 million has been fully allocated.

 





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