With its exclusive launch last month on 1stDibs, the diamond jewelry collections from second cohort of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative (EDDI) not only show the talents of these dynamic designers, but it also is one more way they have grown together since becoming 2022 grantees.
That is what member Casey Perez says, noting that as an EDDI participant she is both enjoying the fellowship and finding the 1stDibs launch a learning experience she’s embracing as she moves forward with her work and brand.
“As lover of all things art and design, I’ve been a longtime fan of 1stDibs. From collectible furniture to drool-worthy objets d’art, I could spend hours on their site discovering beautiful things to inspire me,” Perez says. “I never would have thought I would one day be selling my jewelry here too! It brings me great joy to see my own designs alongside so many of my art and design heroes.”
The Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz announced the first EDDI cohort in January 2021, which included designers Dorian Webb, Malyia McNaughton, and Jameel Mohammed of Khiry. Their exclusive collections launched on Moda Operandi.
NDC and Schwartz announced the second cohort in early 2022 as well as this exclusive collection launch on 1stDibs on June 17.
The exclusive 1stDibs launch continues through next week and then shifts to a yearlong storefront for the six designers who are part of the second EDDI cohort, NDC said. Each EDDI participant receives a $20,000 diamond credit (at no cost), retail opportunities like the 1stDibs launch, and in-depth mentorships.
Perez says the 2022 cohort met once in person briefly, but they spent significant time together and with their fellow jewelers at the JCK show in Las Vegas last month. It was the first time any of the cohort had shown at JCK, so their excitement was significant, she says.
At JCK, “We got to learn so much about one another not just as designers but as newfound friends,” Perez says. “It’s been wonderful to connect with such a diverse group of designers. Each of us is coming to the NDC program with a unique background and voice, which makes for a great exchange of ideas. We’ve been able to share knowledge and resources with one another and be there to support one another as we go along this journey together.”
Perez studied art history at New York University and came across a jewelry class in her final semester. That course reignited her creative spark, Perez says, and she became a self-taught designer. She worked for Pamela Love and later designed jewelry for retailers such as Madewell and Anthropologie.
“All of my persistence and experience aided me in learning about every facet of the jewelry industry and becoming the designer I am today,” Perez says. “I loved working with my hands, transforming raw materials from nothing into something beautiful. As jewelry designers, we get to be masters and creators of our own miniature worlds, where the possibilities are infinite, and it was precisely this that spoke to my heart.”
Today, through Casey Perez jewelry, she uses a hands-on design process, creating jewelry that is both visually stunning as well as expressive. While she does sketch and use CAD, she says she prefers working and experimenting with materials as she designs.
“This allows me to unearth and refine ideas in a way that I couldn’t do as easily with pencil and paper or on a computer. For me, a lot of the real designing happens at the bench, almost like a painter at her canvas,” Perez says. “Whether I’m forming, soldering, or carving wax, I am able to see the design forming in real time so that I can make necessary adjustments along the way—and sometimes even a new idea will arise in the process.”
The initiative will continue to accept applications from jewelry designers within the BIPOC community on an ongoing basis until the $1 million credit runs out.
Top: Casey Perez is a first-generation Mexican American and a member of the second cohort of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative, which is now selling her Arc hoops ($12,916) and the cohort’s exclusive collections via EDDI on 1stDibs (photos courtesy of the Natural Diamond Council).@jckmagazine
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