Designers / Diamonds / Industry

Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative Debuts Its Talented 3rd Cohort

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The third cohort of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative includes six designers who share a love of authenticity, a natural wanderlust, a commitment to size inclusivity, and a desire to create jewelry that is both beautiful and empowering.

The six designers are Amina Sorel of Amina Sorel Fine Jewelry, Bernard James of Bernard James Jewelry, Gwen Beloti of Gwen Beloti Collection, Jessenia Landrum of Jevela, Rosario Navia of Rosario Navia Fine Jewelry, and Symoné Currie of Metal x Wire.

The Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz announced the EDDI 2023 participants on Jan. 25. The program, which the two partners launched in 2021, has offered more than $1 million dollars of diamond credit dedicated to supporting emerging jewelry designers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color, organizers say.

The program’s goal is to create “a more equitable future for the diamond jewelry industry by providing opportunities, removing barriers to entry, and offering unparalleled access to industry education and resources,” EDDI organizers said in a statement.

Each EDDI designer receives a $20,000 diamond credit at cost, retail partnership opportunities, selling support, media interest, and diamond education, NDC says. Designers also are paired with industry mentors as well as diamantaires to establish credit under their own names going into the future.

Some background on each of the 2023 EDDI designers:

Amina Sorel of Amina Sorel Fine Jewelry
Sorel is a native New Yorker who studied marketing and jewelry design at the University of North Carolina and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She attended the GIA’s New York location and became a diamond expert and Graduate Gemologist in 2017. She worked as a head gemologist and appraiser for top diamond houses while also traveling the world. Her travels inspire her jewelry design, which she describes as “ingenious” and features gold, diamonds, and gemstones.

Bernard James of Bernard James Jewelry
An evocative Brooklyn, N.Y.–based jewelry designer, James blends a respect for the complexity of nature with his fascination with detailed jewelry. He is grounded in Brooklyn and is extremely collaborative with other New York artists. His fine jewelry is meant to be exquisitely crafted artifacts that can last a lifetime. His inspirations range from fungi to family portraits to botanical gardens.

Gwen Beloti of Gwen Beloti Collection
Beloti is a Brooklyn native who has studied fashion since she was a kid. She became interested in jewelry as an accessory and a way to highlight her design aesthetic. She believes in size inclusivity to note that all body types deserve beautiful, fashionable, and accessible clothing and jewelry. She launched the Gwen Beloti Collection in 2019 to celebrate her “golden beauties.”

Jessenia Landrum of Jevela
Landrum is the founder and head designer for Jevela, her jewelry brand that is focused on connecting “people, places, and purpose.” She studied accessories design at FIT, and she began working with fashion companies in New York. She also is a world traveler and enjoys backpacking, and a three-month trip to Southeast Asia still inspires her work today.

Rosario Navia of Rosario Navia Fine Jewelry
Navia has a background in graphic design and is a graduate of Miami University. She has worked for a variety of fashion and beauty companies, including Michael Kors. Within the jewelry industry, Navia has worked with Lauren B and The Clear Cut. Navia also is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She started Ro Collective in 2021 and recently renamed it Rosario Navia Fine Jewelry.

Symoné Currie of Metal x Wire
Currie is a self-taught, mixed-media artist with a background in architectural engineering. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Currie is a world traveler who highlights her background in the tropics with her technical understanding to create minimalist yet distinctive silhouettes within her jewelry. Her brand, Metal x Wire, is pronounced “Metal Wire.”

The EDDI program’s first two cohorts included designers Jameel Mohammed of KHIRY, Constance Polamalu of Birthright Foundry, Malyia McNaughton of Made by Malyia, Corey Anthony Jones of Gaudy Atelier, and Mckenzie Liautaud of Mckenzie Liautaud Jewelry.

“Congratulations to the new class of designers. I look forward to seeing their creativity come to life, and I am so excited to see where it leads them. It’s been great to work with so many talented emerging designers over the past two years, and inspiring as well,” Schwartz said in a statement.

All six designers will create a diamond jewelry capsule collection as part of the initiative to debut within 2023. The designers will also be present at this year’s Luxury by JCK show, taking place May 31–June 5 in Las Vegas. To date, the two previous classes saw their jewelry collections sold on Moda Operandi, 1stDibs, Gemist, and at Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City.

Top: The Natural Diamond Council and jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz recently announced the six members of the third cohort of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative, top from left: Bernard James, Amina Sorel; bottom from left: Symoné Currie, Jessenia Landrum, Gwen Beloti, and Rosario Navia. NDC’s Kristina Buckley Kayel is on the far right in the top row (photo: Andrew Werner/courtesy of Natural Diamond Council). 

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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