Adornment + Theory Debuts Grants for BIPOC Jewelry Artists


Chicago fine jewelry store Adornment + Theory—a recent JCK Store We Adore—announced on its Instagram feed Monday the creation of two $500 grants for BIPOC jewelry artists.

The retailer is inviting BIPOC designers over 21 years old to apply for its Seed grants, via an application on the store’s website, by Feb. 28. The awards must be used to buy materials or pay for a professional development course.

The notice began with “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds,” referencing lines from a poem by Dinos Christianopoulos that have become a rallying cry for various social movements.

We asked Adornment + Theory founder Viviana Langhoff about the grants, which debuted on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month.

JCK: How did the idea of offering $500 grants for BIPOC designers come about?

Viviana Langhoff: Equity has been at the heart of our store from its inception. We’re a small store, but we give—our resources, time, and ability to amplify others’ voices—when we can. The idea came to me after a sermon at my church given on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I prayed about it and felt the Lord pressing in on my heart about generosity and creating our own fund. Instead of waiting for the opportunity to present a more perfect set of circumstances, I decided to just begin with what we had available in front of us.

This is the first time we are offering these grants. It’s still very early, but if we get a great response we will 100% do it again. I would love to gather more resources in the future to offer larger grant awards.

Adornment and Theory BIPOC grants
The Instagram post for Adornment + Theory’s BIPOC grants

What was your thinking behind the amount and who would be eligible for the grants?

The amount is based on what we can do at the moment. I also consider this year’s grant to be testing grounds to see if we can organically grow the fund in the future. I chose BIPOC (which stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color) artists because there is currently a gap in representation, and I want to see more BIPOC jewelry designers and artists.

Do you think the jewelry industry has become a more inclusive place in the past year?

I believe the industry has become more self-aware, but the results are too soon to tell. I’m curious to see how the industry shifts in another year or two. If the movement is successful, we will see jewelry boards diversify, stores will bring more BIPOC designers into their cases, memo terms and lines of credit will be extended to minorities, and awards like this one will be given to emerging designers. Every industry has a long way to go, but we’re making progress. I’m encouraged to see it, and honored to be a part of it.

How would you like to see the larger industry better support BIPOC designers, manufacturers, and retailers?

Access. We are a part of a very exclusive luxury industry, and many businesses are family-owned and inherited. There’s nothing wrong with family businesses; they’re a beautiful tradition. But it can be easy to forget that the barriers to entry for the industry can be significant. I believe grants, full scholarships to GIA (specifically for domestic people of color, not just international), and mentorship is key. We can all do our part to contribute to a more equitable and just industry and world.

Top: Adornment + Theory (photo and illustration courtesy of Adornment + Theory)

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By: Emili Vesilind

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