The Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and fine jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz are addressing a little-known inequity in the jewelry business: access to diamonds.
Today, the NDC and Schwartz announced the debut of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative, a program created to remove barriers to entry to diamond suppliers, industry education, and resources, while providing ongoing mentorship to BIPOC jewelry designers. The initiative will also give a total of $1 million—in the form of $20,000 diamond credits—to the chosen designers.
“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,” said Schwartz in a prepared statement. “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.”
It can be extremely challenging to purchase diamonds as an emerging designer with little resources, especially without references or a history of purchases. The NDC initiative aims to help BIPOC designers establish credit and, when needed, better understand the process of diamond financing—along with consignment and memo terms. And the program itself will stand as a guarantor with diamond suppliers.
The fund isn’t meant to be a competition; the credit lines and program perks will be disseminated on a first-come, first-served basis. But entrants are required to attach to their applications sketches and a one-year business plan that includes an overview of their collection, proposed and current sales distribution (direct-to-consumer, e-commerce or retail, wholesale-to-retailers, etc.), a planned calendar, their anticipated gross margin, and marketing, social media, and press goals. Fine jewelry designers who don’t presently work with diamonds but want to are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be based in the United States and have been in the jewelry business for at least one year.
Chosen designers will be able to specify how much mentorship they need or want, cherry-pick educational sessions (topics will include pricing strategy and diamond tutorials), and gain supply chain and production know-how if desired. NDC will promote the designers and their stories on its channels.
The selection committee for the initiative is composed of Schwartz; NDC CEO David Kellie; Nicole Chapoteau, fashion director of Vanity Fair; and celebrity stylist and designer Jason Rembert. The committee will review and approve designer applications on a rolling basis until the $1 million diamond credit runs out. Honorary advisers for the initiative include celebs Pharrell, Kelly Rowland, and Tina Knowles, who “will also lend their expert opinions at various stages of the program,” according to the announcement.
The application for entry is currently live on the Natural Diamond Council’s website.
(Illustration courtesy of the Natural Diamond Council)
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