The ongoing war in Ukraine has broken the hearts of millions around the world, including right here within the jewelry industry. Many of our peers have leapt into action, using their platforms to raise awareness, funds, or supplies, and champion certain causes that provide relief to the country’s people.
We’ve been covering some of the ways jewelers are doing their part to help, many donating proceeds from some of their sales to worthwhile causes, some even designing specific goods for the occasion. To add to the growing list: an auction, currently live, that brings together a band of world-renowned Black jewelers, auctioning off their creations to benefit the nonprofit World Central Kitchen (WCK).
The group of 10 brands participating in the initiative include Castro, Johnny Nelson, Lola Fenhirst, Lorraine West, Marei, Matturi Fine Jewellery, Melanie Eddy, Moonymoon, Sheryl Jones, and Thelma West—designers spanning the map from New York to London, Paris, and Istanbul.
Named #HandInHand, the auction, which began on Instagram on Thursday, April 14, showcases 10 jewels—one from each brand—available for sale, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to World Central Kitchen, which provides meals to areas afflicted by natural and humanitarian disasters.
To bid, users may comment under each post on the designers’ profiles or send in their bid via direct message. The auction closes at Sunday, April 17, at 2:24 p.m. ET—a time selected to mark when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
“My heart breaks at what is happening in the Ukraine,” said Castro in a statement. “It is a tragic situation, especially for those facing discrimination on the ground.”
“As a transplant from Africa to Europe, I understand the hardships one can face as an outsider, but that becomes magnified beyond comprehension in cases of conflict,” Thelma West said in the same statement. “It’s an honor to join hands with a group of like-minded creatives who I’ve long admired, and when Castro proposed we do something, I agreed wholeheartedly.”
Below, the pieces up for auction, with some designers offering insight as to why they’ve been selected. If you’re interested in bidding, the designers’ Instagram handles are noted and linked as well.
“I picked the ‘infinity lock,’ which is about taking a break in life and living a full life in full circle,” says the Istanbul-based jeweler Castro. “I felt that the poor souls trapped there and those that had to endure hardships while getting over borders deserved a full healthy life. Also one of reasons we chose the charity [WCK], as they are doing the same with the meals—not turning anyone away from a meal, no matter what race, gender, or sexuality. That was most important to us as a group: We had seen how especially Black/African people were being treated in Ukraine, being denied at the trains and borders. Denied basic life needs, and some being put into detention centers as soon as they did make the hard journey over the border.”
Johnny Nelson, @johnnynelsonjewelry
“The All Power Fist was chosen because it is a universal symbol of the fight against oppression,” says New York’s Johnny Nelson. “It is a statement piece of power and of resistance in the face of racism, fascism, and all the other isms that create and promote schism and disunity around the world.”
Lorraine West, @lorrainewestjewelry
“When women wear their Open Heart pieces, I want them to feel empowered to love themselves in the boldest of ways,” says Lorraine West, who lives in New York. “To keep their hearts open in order to walk in this world with grace, inspiration, and love.”
“The Damian ring represents strength, power, and resilience,” says designer Angie Marei. “This ring features black onyx stones, each hand-carved and polished by artisans and mounted in a luxurious sterling silver setting. For this piece, I took inspiration from apotropaic talismans worn by the royal Ancient Egyptians. ”
Melanie Eddy, @mne_eddy
“Although my work is characteristically asymmetrical in form, all of my earrings are made to mirror each other, so the earrings always carry a symmetrical relationship with each other,” wrote London-based Melanie Eddy on Instagram. “Earrings historically have always carried various associations about status, wealth, style, and cultural affiliation, but I am quite enamored with earlier ideas of them as talismans of protection. Protection in battle, protection from illness or supernatural forces, which could perhaps enter through the ears. I see my earrings as arresting geometric forms—sentinels to keep watch over you. So for me, earrings seemed a fitting choice for this auction: Geometry is special and magical, and earrings are about togetherness.”
Sheryl Jones, @sheryljonesjewelry
“I selected the hot pink sapphire earrings because it’s one of my favorite colors,” says New York’s Sheryl Jones. “It’s a color of passion and vitality.”
“The most popular design at MM is the BLK Angel Baby. The inspiration for this image came during the 2019 Black Lives Matter protests in Chicago, where I was living at the time,” Moonymoon creative director Sir King Castro wrote on the brand’s website. “The BLK Angel Baby is a celebration of the innocence, purity, and softness inside of each of us, and a vehicle to comment on world events.”
Thelma West, @thelmawestdiamonds
“The sugarcane design incorporated in my Adaeze 6 earrings is inspired by memories from my childhood in Lagos,” says London-based Thelma West. “It’s used across many designs in the collection, including my wedding bands and engagement rings, which were created to honor sweet love.”
Lola Fenhirst, @lolafenhirst
“I’m so grateful that World Central Kitchen is providing an opportunity to help through this auction,” says Lola Fenhirst, who lives in Paris. “The amethyst drop earrings are a celebration of the richness of the mineral world, designed with wearability in mind. They transition effortlessly from day to evening. The richly saturated faceted Brazilian amethyst is suspended in a handmade brushed 18 karat yellow gold prong setting. It’s a simple design that attracts light to the face through the movement of the stone.”
Top: The 10 jewelers participating in the #HandInHand auction benefiting World Central Kitchen for Ukraine: (Top row, from left) Castro, Angie Marei of Marei, Melanie Eddy, Thelma West; (middle row, from left) Satta Matturi of Matturi, Johnny Nelson, Lorraine West, Sheryl Jones; (bottom row, from left) Lola Fenhirst, Sir King Castro of Moonymoon (photo courtesy of Danielle Gadi PR)
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