The Diamond Empowerment Fund has come up with a new way to raise money for education initiatives in African diamond-producing nations: selling jewelry.
The New York City–based global nonprofit—whose proceeds benefit groups including CIDA City Campus, South Africa’s first nonprofit university to offer a four-year business degree, and the African Leadership Academy, a university preparatory school also in South Africa—is collaborating with three jewelry design firms who support DEF’s mission. Among them: Donna Distefano, a New York City–based designer who created three styles of bracelets with Elizabeth Hamrick; Royal Asscher of New York City, which offers a necklace from the brand’s Shining Stars of Africa Collection; and three different styles of watches—a Gold or Silver Euro Face retailing for $390 or a Big Face Watch retailing for $495—from Banneker Watch in Denver.
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and DEF cofounder Russell Simmons maintains that each designer’s vision of transformation “is important to support and encourage the youth of Africa to make a positive change,” in the world. “DEF Empowerment Jewelry will contribute to this vision,” he told the media this week. All Empowerment Jewelry, including the DEF’s iconic green malachite and diamond bracelet, can be seen on DEF’s website, as well as a media launch party scheduled for June 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Donna Distefano’s private Atelier in the city.
Items are available for purchase on the makers’ websites or for wholesale purchase by stores; see samples at the DEF Booth L-11 at JCK Las Vegas. Ten percent of retail sales—$20 from Distefano’s bracelets, $125 from Royal Asscher necklaces, and either $39 or $49.50 from Banneker Watch—benefits the DEF.
Three Illumination bracelet SKUs (Transformation, Tranquility, and Strength) have slide-on sterling silver symbols in polished or antiqued finishes on leather-look, ultra-suede straps available in pistachio, earth, or jet colors, with diamond accents ranging from 0.02 ct. t.w. to 0.05 ct. t.w., $200 each; Donna Distefano and Elizabeth Hamrick for the DEF
Pendant from the Royal Asscher Shines Stars of Africa Collection in white ceramic and sterling silver with 0.5 ct. t.w. green tsavorite in a fluid-filled natural sapphire dome with 0.15 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,250; Royal Asscher for the DEF
Watch in stainless steel with ebony wood from Madagascar with green crystals on the bezel, $390; Banneker Watch for the DEF
Jewelry designer Donna Distefano, Diamond Empowerment Fund Cofounder Russell Simmons, and Elizabeth Hamrick