In January, JCK reported on the introduction of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative (EDDI), a new program powered by the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and Lorraine Schwartz. Its intent was to help facilitate the access of BIPOC jewelry designers to diamond suppliers, industry education, and resources, while providing ongoing mentorship to a selection of these artisans. Last spring, the participating designers were announced, and now, the collections each produced are available for sale via online trunk show at Moda Operandi.
Under the stewardship of NDC experts, Lorraine Schwartz, and premium retailers, the inaugural group of designers—Jameel Mohammed of Khiry, Dorian Webb, Constance Polamalu of Birthright Foundry, Marvin Linares of Marvin Douglas Jewelry, Malyia McNaughton of Made by Malyia, and Lisette Scott of Jam + Rico—produced diamond jewelry collections that reflected their unique brand voices and aesthetics, while receiving commercial feedback and guidance from mentors. Each designer was paired with a diamantaire to establish a line of credit in their own name and personally selected stones in varying cuts, colors, and shapes. For several of the designers, this was their first time utilizing diamonds in their collections.
Scott stressed the importance of access to these materials and the breaking down of a barrier when it came to securing responsive, reliable suppliers and manufacturers. As a designer primarily of fashion jewelry, “I was hesitant to enter the diamond and fine jewelry industry because it was so unknown to me,” she tells JCK. Through the EDDI program, she was able to connect with a manufacturer who not only suppled the stones she needed but also handled the production process. “He was able to execute my designs in an amazing amount of time and was so easy to work with. If I had a question about anything, he would write back right away, and I had never had a relationship with a manufacturer like that. With this manufacturer, [our interactions] were quick, concise, and efficient.”
As for Schwartz’s involvement, Scott says she offered the designers big-picture advice—including a special pep talk as they prepared for the press event—but mostly encouraged them to follow their own paths and stay true to their authentic visions as a way to get their stories across.
A sampling of the Moda Operandi trunk show treasures, which premiered at a press event in Manhattan last week, are showcased below.
The Moda Operandi launch coincides with the announcement of a second initiative and the next class of grantees. They are: Casey Perez, Corey Anthony Jones, Halle Millien of Heart the Stones, Lana Ogilvie, Mckenzie Liautaud, and Ruben Manuel.
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: Portraits of the inaugural emerging designers collective, clockwise from left: Malyia McNaughton, Made by Malyia; Jameel Mohammed, Khiry; Constance Polamalu, Birthright Foundry; Lisette Scott, Jam + Rico; Marvin Linares, Marvin Douglas Jewelry; and Dorian Webb. (All photos courtesy of the Natural Diamond Council)
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