In honor of International Women’s Day, jewelers across the United States and around the world are putting together events and fundraising programs that empower women for the March 8 celebration.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration that highlights the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, according to the official organizers. Since its first IWD gathering in 1911, more than a million people and IWD groups have recognized March 8 as a “call to action,” organizers say. This year’s hashtags are #IWD2022 and #BreakTheBias to express the 2022 theme of accelerating women’s equality.
“We’re a women-owned and women-run business. Empowering women has always been at the very heart of our mission,” says Amy Peterson, cofounder of Detroit-based, socially conscious jewelry company Rebel Nell. “Everything we do is to support and create more equitable opportunities for women facing barriers to employment, so it was natural for us to host an event for International Women’s Day.”
Here are some ways that the jewelry industry is celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 and beyond.
Special events. Female-led jewelry companies as well as designers are organizing day-, week-, and monthlong activities around IWD. One example is Rebel Nell’s International Women’s Day event, which brings together leaders in the art, fashion, and wellness spaces for an afternoon of collaboration and discovery. This event kicks off a yearlong campaign during which Rebel Nell shows its commitment to #BreakTheBias for women everywhere, Peterson says.
Speakers at its second annual event include Parade founder Cami Téllez, graffiti artist Lady Pink, and visual artist Quinn Faylor. Participants of the ticketed event receive an International Women’s Day box, which includes a leather Shinola notebook and a silver or gold “I am” necklace featuring the words Fierce, Strong, or Unique.
“The event celebrates the strength of women in the face of adversity. Our speakers focus on wellness, healing, creativity, and more as we commit to breaking the bias in business, art and fashion,” Peterson says. “The Fierce, Strong, and Unique necklaces will be a reminder to the participants of the power of women-centric community.”
Fundraising opportunities. As female entrepreneurs, sisters Gorjana Reidel and Iva Pawling of Gorjana and Richer Poorer, respectively, know that launching a business can be difficult. The pair are determined to change that. For International Women’s Day, the sisters codesigned a capsule collection and are donating 100% of sales to Dress for Success, a nonprofit that provides professional attire for low-income women as they navigate the job-interview process.
The sisters say they have a $50,000 fundraising goal for their three-product collection, which includes Pawling’s layer-friendly tank top, Reidel’s necklace, and a two-piece bundle that includes both items. The sisters worked together to design the pieces, which symbolize their individuality as well as their bond, they say.
Awards and calls to action. On March 8, nonprofit Pure Earth will give its Force of Nature Award to goldsmith and jewelry designer Christina Malle. Malle is a former human rights attorney who creates art and nature-inspired jewelry produced with responsibly sourced precious metals and gemstones. Her newest capsule collection also launches March 8.
As part of Ethical Metalsmiths and the Mercury Free Mining Project, Malle advocates for ways to problem-solve long-term solutions in the industry. As part of Pure Earth’s Jewelry Industry Action Committee, Malle works with Pure Earth and members from the responsible jewelry industry to brainstorm ideas that will further raise awareness among colleagues and consumers.
For Malle, the term responsible sourcing means paying miners and cutters a fair wage, avoiding child and forced labor, buying from known sources who can back up their own claims of responsibility, and mitigating the environmental impact of extractive industries. In addition, Malle uses Fairmined gold, which is traceable to the mining source, or gold with traceable origins. These miners are paid a fair wage, avoid or mitigate mercury, and reduce the environmental impact of mining.
Malle is also a supporter of Pure Earth’s annual Pure Gold jewelry auction held each fall to raise funds for Pure Earth’s work training artisanal miners to go mercury-free and helping them restore land damaged by gold mining through reforestation.
“Pure Earth surprised me in a good way when they offered the Force of Nature Award. It’s incredibly humbling to accept this honor,” Malle says. “I feel challenged to live up to the confidence placed in me.”
Pure Earth’s 2022 Force of Nature Award recipients also include former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner and Dr. Netzy Peralta, an anthropologist who works with indigenous potters.
Malle also serves on the board of the New York Metro Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA). Simultaneously, the WJA is holding its third annual March Is Me Month campaign to align with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.
This annual initiative is developed in collaboration with more than 30 members of WJA’s Women’s Executive Leadership Forum with the goal of empowering women to purchase fine jewelry for themselves. March Is Me Month will officially launch March 1, calling on every woman to celebrate herself, visit a retail jeweler, and treat herself to a piece of fine jewelry no matter the reason.
Top: Gorjana Reidel and Iva Pawling codesigned a capsule collection based on their two businesses to celebrate International Women’s Day. The sisters say 100% of sales from their three-piece collaboration will be donated to Dress for Success (photo courtesy of Gorjana Reidel and Iva Pawling).@jckmagazine
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