Kassandra Lauren Gordon reflects on a year of activism and urges the industry to work with Black jewellers on real change rather than virtue signallingJune 18, 2021 By Kassandra Lauren Gordon
Let me start by saying it’s been an interesting year since I wrote my open letter to the industry about racism. I had no idea how much of a worldwide impact it would make, and how it could change the jewellery industry.
I want to thank the members of the jewellery community across the world who supported The Kassandra Lauren Gordon Fund, the Black Jewellers Survey, the Social Research report, and the Black Jewellers Network.
Reflecting on where we are now versus a year ago, I feel that there is not much to add to my first open letter. Being proactively anti-racist is a practice, not a one-time act. While we have had a busy 12 months promoting change and steps forward have been made, it has similarly been disheartening to see a lot of virtual signalling over the past year. While I want to celebrate our allies, there have been many people and organisations that have gone back on their promises to make the jewellery industry more inclusive and equitable. In short, we still have a long way to go to achieve real change.
Jewellery designer Kassandra Lauren Gordon
I am a very passionate and practical person who likes to see movement and momentum. However, I learned that people are at different stages of learning in their anti-racist practice. Things won’t change overnight. I appreciate anyone who has made any steps to make the world a better place; every step helps, no matter how small it is. If you are struggling to find actionable ways to contribute to change, please look at the recommendations of the Black Jewellers survey and the Social Research report, which were created with the support of The Goldsmiths’ Company and The Goldsmiths’ Centre.
I would urge jewellery companies and institutions to be more courageous and innovative with their diversity and inclusion (and also anti-racist) approaches. First of all, businesses should normalise difficult conversations around challenging inequalities in the workplace. Secondly, stop shoehorning easy and existing corporate social responsibility initiatives and rebranding them as diversity and inclusion new initiatives.
Finally, I feel more co-production work needs to be done with Black and first-generation jewellers. The term co-production refers to a way of working where organisations and users work together to reach a collective outcome. Basically, take the time to ask Black and first-generation jewellers what they need and tailor the support. Additionally, incorporate feedback loops, so the organisation or person is accountable for the actions and progress of new initiatives and reporting back to stakeholders.
Kassandra Lauren Gordon gold vermeil and pink sapphire Io Moon ring, £249, shop at The Jewellery Cut Shop
Most of the diversity and inclusion work that I have done over the past year has been co-produced. I have done surveys, interviews, focus groups and feedback sessions to understand the needs and solutions to challenge inequalities in the jewellery industry. If you want meaningful and tangible results, you have put time into building authentic relationships, feeding back to people, being consistent, being reliable, asking people what they want, feeling uncomfortable, being humble and remaining open if you don’t get the answers you’d like to hear.
When it comes to finding ways to improve diversity in the jewellery industry, do not assume – ask, and then act.
Kassandra Lauren Gordon is a jewellery designer based in London, crafting jewels and working on bespoke designs in her studio in Hackney. She is also the founder of The Black Jewellers Network. You can shop Kassandra’s work at The Jewellery Cut Shop