In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and because posting a blank square is not enough, The Jewellery Cut will be showcasing the work of a new Black jeweller every day for the next month.
Each day, we will showcase the work of a Black jewellery designer across our social media channels, and you can follow the project using the hashtag #Blackjewellersmatter.
You will also be able to find a growing list of Black jewellers to support, listen to and champion right here in this article, which will be added to daily. So if you want to learn more about this vibrant, diverse and talented community of jewellers, and put your money where your mouth is by supporting Black-owned businesses, keep checking in.
What can you do to help raise the profile of Black jewellery designers? Share this article or #Blackjewellersmatter posts on social media (do feel free to join in with your own posts), tag people you know who might like the jewels, follow the designers and invest in their work, because Black jewellers matter.
Sewit Sium is a New York designer who produces statement jewellery imbued with African history, culture, tradition and indigenous technologies. This silver medallion is an homage to Malcolm X. “Jewellery is universal language,” says designer, artisan and educator Sium. “Jewellery is documentary evidence, witness, corroborator of story. Jewellery is part of a living history that we’re at the centre of now. Jewellery is an activating agent for our collective liberation.”
When Morgan Thomas of Yam was young, her mother brought home a jewellery-making book. It was a fun activity that would transform into a career. “Yam is an ode to my late mother, upcycled materials and new nostalgia,” says Morgan, who makes all her jewellery by hand in Astoria, New York. These Yam Summer Showers earrings in recycled brass and bronze, with cascading upcycled pearls are the perfect shoulder grazers for balmy summer nights.
Vânia Leles was born in West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau and started her career as a model before discovering a love for jewellery. She studied at the GIA and fulfilled her dream of working for Graff before she launched her own fine jewellery brand Vanleles in London. Her jewels are ethically made, using extraordinary gemstones, and the design DNA of VanLeles is steeped in Leles’ African heritage. These gold, diamond and emerald jewels from the Legends of Africa collection use emeralds sourced from Zambia. ”To become the first African fine jewellery house among the top 10 global fine jewellery brands, and to inspire more Africans to enter this industry,” says Leles of her professional ambitions. “With over 75% of what is used in fine jewellery coming from Africa, we need more representation. Representation matters because only then we will see changes on the ground and do the right thing by the communities where the mines are located.”
Ohemaa takes its name from the Ghanaian word ohemaa (pronounced ‘O’ – him – maa), which means queen. This regal costume jewellery brand, founded in 2017 by Dorothy Arhin, aims to create “bold, beautiful, affordable and high-quality jewellery” for both women and children. Her statement jewels, often inspired by geometry, are made using techniques such as hand sawing or laser cutting. These brass Picasso earrings take their inspiration from the famous artist, with Ohemaa creating a line drawing of a woman’s face.
After struggling to find the right kind of jewels for her own professional wardrobe – those that are “combinable, seductive and travelled well” – Marilyne Kekeli left behind a career in strategic to become a jewellery designer. Starting off in 2018 with a collection of just three earrings, designed to adapt perfectly to the boardroom, brunch and bar hopping, she started her journey. A play on the French words for Mother Nature, @mamaterjewels creates “ethical sophisticated adornments for spirited women who want to look good and live well”. “A lot of recent news has felt close to home,” says Kekeli, who is based in London. “It has been painful to see people who look like me being taken from us for the crime of having more melanin in our skin. None of it is new, are things that we as a collective people did not know, or did not mourn. From the investor hesitant to support a business because its owner is Black, to the person that specifically doesn’t date people who look like us, to the customer hesitant to purchase a product shown on a Black model, the grandmother who clutches her handbag when we walk past her, and so on. Today, I stand in solidarity with those in pain and who seek the right to be respected.” Head to the Mamater Instagram page for Kekeli’s full thoughts on this topic.
Jam + Rico
Growing up, Jam + Rico founder Lisette Ffolkes was influenced by her Jamaican and Puerto Rican roots, having grandparents from both islands. She was curious about what it was like for them to grow up there – the traditions, the food, the music. As she grew older and was able to travel to Jamaica and Puerto Rico, her fascination only grew. Jam + Rico – named for both islands – is a reflection of this infatuation with Lisette’s Caribbean heritage, with bold and colourful jewels that capture island vibes with sun motifs, like these gold-plated Sol earrings, or cowrie shells. “A little salsa and reggae with a mix of arroz con pollo, pastelles, jerk and curry were favourites and loves within my home,” says Ffolkes, who is based in New York. “The colours, carnivals, art, beaches and language all inspired me to create and design. That’s when I knew I needed to design to bring me closer to a the cultural connection of my ancestors.”
Florence Gossec is not just a jeweller, she is a creator of objet d’art. As well as her bold jewels, she uses her signature golden wirework to create an array of floral-inspired headbands and delicate, contemporary ornaments that are alternatives to cut flowers. When she does turn to jewels, the French jeweller does not hold back. Her often whimsical, and outsized, creations are for those who wish to make a statement. These bold earrings were the result of a collaboration with Parisian fashion designer Pascal Millet. Gossec created all the jewellery for the brand’s spring/summer 2018 runway show at Paris Fashion Week.
Bringing French fabulousness to London, the award-winning Catherine Marché creates fine jewellery infused with that understated chic that makes us all eternally jealous of Parisiennes. Originally from Paris, Marché studied her craft in London at Central Saint Martins and City & Guilds before completing further training under the watchful eyes of some of Hatton Garden’s most exacting goldsmiths. Often working on bespoke commissions, Marché enjoys a close relationship with her clients, and seeks to make jewels in gold, silver and gemstones that will accentuate their inner beauty. This gold vermeil Passionata ring with a purple amethyst, which is made by hand in London, is one of the pieces that can be customised, and was in fact designed with stylish men in mind. “One of my inspirations is bringing out individual elegance and the glamour of life in a big city,” says Marché, whose work has ben featured in a number of jewellery books. “Fascinated by antiquity, primitive, tribal jewellery and the beauty of couture, I love to fuse original ideas with a strong aesthetic, using the craft of jewellery making by combining traditional workmanship and cutting-edge technology like photo etching”.
Tenthousandthings was founded by Ronald Anderson and David Rees, who taught themselves how to make jewellery after leaving behind careers in fashion. All their jewellery, which takes inspiration from abstract shapes found in nature, is handmade in New York City. Unusual gemstones, such as this kyanite set in a gold pendant, are a staple of the brand. “Making jewellery is about adding beauty to the world,” said the founders in an Instagram post. “That’s our mission statement. As a proudly Black-owned business of 30 years, we have been fortunate to meet and know many talented African American creators. This is a great time to learn about them.” For some of Ronald and David’s suggestions on creatives to discover, head over to the brand’s Instagram page.
Satta Matturi spent more than a decade working at diamond miner De Beers before launching her own fine jewellery brand in 2015. Her debut collection, Artful Indulgence, was a collection of dramatic, yet wearable, earrings that blend traditional luxury jewellery styles with a modern African twist. Being British and West African, Matturi draws on the traditions and heritage from Africa in her work, mixing it with a global view to create a luxurious brand that resonates with fashion-conscious women on the African continent, and far beyond. “African art and cultures have influenced many modern and contemporary works throughout the years,” says Matturi. “One in particular is the introduction of African mask sculpture forms into European art during the early 1900s. My work, today, as a jewellery designer has also taken inspiration from these striking and highly evocative relics. I recreate them as bejewelled interpretations that have become synonymous with my brand.” For musings on the influence of African and African-American culture on jewellery, art and style, check out her #TJCXSATTAMATTURI takeover of our Instagram account.
White/Space founder Khadijah Fulton studied at the prestigious Parsons School of Design and had a decade-long career in fashion, working for some of the business’s biggest names. It was motherhood that inspired Fulton’s switch to fine jewellery, as she found herself wanting to create versatile pieces with longevity; designs that “honoured a conﬁdent, subdued interpretation of style – approachable yet distinct”. All White/Space jewellery is made in downtown Los Angeles, and Khadijah has a studio just outside the city where she designs. She also works as a creative consultant, and recently created an engagement ring collection for Vrai. All White/Space jewellery is made in 14ct gold, like this one-of-a kind pendant with a diamond set within a lavender turquoise from Kazakhstan. ”Supporting Black business and Black creatives has a lasting effect on communities of colour and our shared humanity, and in order to grow, we will need you beyond this moment,” writes Fulton in a recent Instagram post. “Continue having the difficult conversations, examining your thoughts and decisions, and educating yourself and your children. Continue doing your best to diversify the voices and visions that you support.” To read the full post head to @whitespacejewelry.
Beads Byaree founder Areeayl Goodwin created her costume jewellery brand out of a desire to make her “dreams a reality”. Quite literally. The design of every piece of jewellery in the Beads Byaree collection has come to Goodwin in a dream. This whimsical approach to design has led to the creation of some standout pieces, such as these Sea Baby hoops in brass with a patina finish on the shells. Other spectacular earrings include outsized cowrie shell mobiles, strings of family photos in gilt frames that stretch far beyond the collar bone, and hoops with tiny lanterns that actually turn on and emit glowing lights. “Dream, and it will spread like a wildfire,” says Areeayl, who was born and raised in Philadelphia but now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Kassandra Lauren Gordon
At the age of nine, Kassandra Lauren Gordon received a gold locket from her mother. It was an important gift – not only did she know her mother had scrimped and saved to give it to her, it would also go on to influence the rest of her life. It was the start of a career-forming love affair with jewellery. “I knew it was gold and delicate, so I had to take care of it,” says Kassandra. “My mum was a single parent, and did not have much money. I knew that she saved, sacrificed and grafted for me for a nearly a year to buy this precious gift. 20 years later I still have it in pristine condition. Every time I see this or wear this locket I feel love, a strong bond between a mother and daughter.” Of the firm mindset that “jewellery equals love” – a feeling that only grew when she would gift friends and family jewels as a teenager – Kassandra decided to become a jeweller herself. The London-based designer studied her craft in the city’s famous Hatton Garden jewellery district at Holts Academy (now the British Academy of Jewellery) before setting up her own studio in East London. Her jewels, which are made with ethical materials like recycled silver and Fairtrade gold, take inspiration from the cosmos. Inspired by planets and moons, her designs have a celestial vibe, like this silver Jupiter pendant, plated with rich 22ct gold and set with a pink sapphire.
Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden is reinventing what it means to be a family jeweller by pairing traditional jewellery-making values with contemporary style and service. Rajcoomar-Hadden’s passion for jewels started with the launch of her own brand Goldie Rox, which created bold jewels that often had a foodie theme. Anyone remember her brilliant gold burger collection? You can still buy these tasty jewels at Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden, along with deconstructed streaky bacon, chip, tomato and lettuce jewels, for those with an aversion to buns. However, Rajcoomar-Hadden – who joined us at The Jewellery Cut Live in February 2019 to talk about juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship – now offers so much more and is providing many of the services that you might associate with a traditional family jeweller. Before striking out on her own, Rajcoomar-Hadden studied with De Beers and the GIA, and worked for other jewellers, including Bulgari and Theo Fennell. She taps into this wealth of experience to offer varied services including repairs, alterations, valuations and acquisitions. As well as selling ready-to-wear fine jewellery, Rajcoomar-Hadden also specialises in bespoke commissions and upcyling. These contemporary ruby and peridot earrings started life as oval-cut rubies in ornate gold settings. Rajcoomar-Hadden worked closely with her client Anastasia, who had been left the earrings by her Russian grandmother, on the design to update a treasured family heirloom while paying homage to the past with a nod to secret cocktail bars in 1930s Russia. Do you have questions about what it’s like to be a Black jeweller? If so, Rajcoomar-Hadden has kindly offered to answer your questions in an article on JewelleryCut.com. Simply post your question below or email them in to email@example.com
Edas is a jewellery brand based in Philadelphia, created by designer Sade Mims to offer “feminine and staple accessories, accommodating the everyday, eclectic woman”. Each piece of jewellery is made by hand and there is a focus on sustainability, with each item made to order. This pre-order model means delivery takes a little longer, but the benefits are huge – no hoards of unsold stock, thus reducing waste. Each Edas piece is made to be worn alone or paired, such as this combination of the Hattie and Webster gold-plated brass necklaces from the Black Glamour collection. “To our community of supporters who are sharing, shopping and in solidarity with us, we appreciate you,” writes Mims in an Instagram post. “We hope that you continue to stay connected with us and engage with other organisations from here on out that are doing the work to dismantle systemic racism in this country. We are always fighting and we are thrilled to have you along for the revolution.”
Bespoke by M.B.
Barnabus is the London-based creative bespoke jeweller behind the Bespoke by MB brand. Barnabaus has a keen eye for what makes a beautiful piece of fine jewellery (“combining cutting-edge design with exceptional craftsmanship”) and works in a holistic manner with his clients to create one-off commissions. As such, Bespoke by M.B. has a thriving engagement ring business. Barnabus also creates red carpet-ready jewels, which have been worn by a number of stars, including Nadiya Bychkova, Nadine Mulkerrin, Leonie Elliott and Catarina Mira, who is shown here wearing a set of pear-shaped diamond drop earrings. “The strength of Bespoke by MB lies in the ability to convert a client’s thoughts and ideas into a concept, the concept into a detailed design and the design into a remarkable piece of jewellery,” says Barnabus. In light of recent events, Barnabus has turned to the bible in a search for positivity, quoting a number of choice excerpts on his Instagram page, including: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
London-based Melanie Eddy was born in Bermuda and studied her craft in Bermuda, Canada, New York and London. With a focus on bespoke made-to-order jewellery, her love of geometry and obsession with the relationship between the body and the jewel has led to the creation of jewels that are akin to miniature sculptures. As well as crafting jewels in her workshop in the The Goldsmiths’ Centre, Eddy is also a teacher, helping the next generation of jewellers to hone their talents at Central Saint Martins. However, her impressive resume of extra-curricular activities stretches far beyond that. Eddy is also a director of The Association for Contemporary Jewellery, a licentiate (with distinction) of The Society of Designer Craftsman, and is involved in The Society of Jewellery Historians, having previously served as reviews editor for Jewellery History Today, the society’s magazine. And it doesn’t stop there – for a full roll call of her achievements, head to her website. “We need to hear and see more about Black businesses and Black creatives to change the narrative,” wrote Eddy in a recent Instagram post. “Thankfully, with increased and hopefully sustained efforts to highlight our work and our stories, this will change. One of the blessings to come out of this time of terrible sadness and anger has been increased connections within the industry across diverse backgrounds and within underrepresented groups.”
Omi Woods creates “contemporary heirlooms that celebrate all of our connections to Africa and her diaspora”. Omi means ‘water’ in the Yoruba language. Paired with Woods, it pays tribute to founder Ashley Alexis McFarlane’s Jamaican-Ashanti-Maroon heritage. “The word Jamaica,” she says, “derives from the indigenous Taino word ‘Xaymaca’, meaning ‘land of wood and water’.” The Canadian brand’s jewellery is crafted with ethics in mind, and has just launched a collection of jewellery that uses fair trade gold from Africa, as worn by Rihanna on the cover of British Vogue in May. “Omi Woods is the first black-owned company founded by a descendent of runaway Ashanti slaves to create jewellery with fair trade African gold,” says Ashley. “Why is this important? 90% of the world’s gold comes from Africa and, like diamonds, the gold mining industry is rife with human and environmental rights abuses. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The shift is up to you and the choices you make. Now that we all have more time to reflect on our lives, society and choices I really hope we choose ethical in everything we do as much as humanly possible.”
Founder and designer Elizabeth Harrison is the creative force behind Aureliean, and is a barrister by training. What started as a passion on the side of a glittering legal career soon bloomed into a fully fledged brand. The jewellery house takes its name from Elizabeth’s first-born son, who was in turn named after the Latin word for golden. True to his name, he was her champion, pushing her to chase her dream of becoming a jewellery designer. Aureliean’s contemporary jewellery, in 18ct gold with responsibly sourced gemstones, is designed to adorn and empower women as they chase their own dreams, as Elizabeth did hers. The jewels, she says, should help them to elevate their shine as they navigate the matrix of work, family life, friends, personal passions and beliefs. Its wearable luxuries, crafted in London’s Hatton Garden, take inspiration from love, light and the art we can see every day in nature, such as the rich colours of natural gemstones. Alongside a list of recommended reading material, Elizabeth has also chosen to highlight a Desmond Tutu quote on her Instagram page in light of #BlackLivesMatter: “Unapologetically in the words of Desmond Tutu; if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Doreth Jones grew up in Oxford and was inspired by her stylish mother, as well as artists such as British micro sculptor Willard Wigan, to pursue a career in the creative arts. After learning her craft through a mixture of formal classes and self-taught experience, Jones joined the jewellery industry in 2004. Since then, she has won awards for her work, has seen her jewels worn by the likes of Erykah Badu and has made special pieces for Grace Jones. British jeweller Jones uses recycled materials has “a strong commitment to ethical and environment issues” and seeks to “infuse her work with a passion and commitment to quality, design and integrity”. This talismanic Darker Than Blue silver ring pays homage to African culture with a brass mask motif. Another of Jones’ creations, the Marcus Garvey collection, celebrates the life of the black rights activist who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association at the beginning of the 20th century. Quoting Garvey on her Instagram page, Jones wrote: “There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty.”
Jwllry by Jade
Jwllry by Jade has a catchy tagline that perfectly sums up the British brand: Modern fine jewellery for everyday style. Founder and designer Jade Hibbert describes herself as “advocate for simplicity”, and her keen eye for classic styling and clean lines have led her to focus her work on celebrating and elevating fine jewellery staples such as diamond bands, gold bangles, stud earrings and signet rings. “I’m always on the go, so I like to have a variety of jewellery that is easy to put on, layer up and coordinate with different outfits,” says Hibbert, who also runs jewellery-making workshops in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. This illustration of her self-titled Jade collection, drawn by Katherine Hannah, captures the easy-breezy stylish essence of the brand. “It was important for me to have a Black woman in the illustration as jewellery transcends colour, race, gender, culture and modernity,” says Hibbert, who has recently been fundraising for the George Floyd Memorial Fund by running a sample sale.
As a young girl growing up in Nigeria, Adèle Dejak found a love of fashion watching her mother and grandmother dress up in “magnificent fabrics and tribal jewellery”. Dejak originally studied law, but after graduating she found her creative side calling and went back to her studies, this time in typographic design in London. When she moved to Kenya in 2005, she started experimenting jewellery, making jewels for herself in brass and horn, and what started as a hobby blossomed into a business. “I finally gave in and started producing various collections of jewellery and fashion accessories, drawing inspiration from the rich African culture,” says Dejak. “Looking at different pieces, you can easily tell that my stay in Europe also influences my style of jewellery.” Adele Dejak not only takes inspiration from Africa, it was set up to give back to the continent. The brand invests in communities in Uganda and Kenya, teaching artisans the skills they need to produce its jewels and accessories, ensuring these makers have contracts and regular monthly payments. It has also collaborated with Australia for UNHCR to create work for some of the 200,000 Sudanese and Somalian refugees at the Kakuma camp in Kenya.
Thanks for creating this article. I would like to support more jewellers of colour but struggled to know where to go 💕
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Posted by: Diya
Great😉 article I enjoyed this.. Hoping to view more
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Posted by: Brenda Joyce
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