When Amulet by D’s Doris Chou-Durfee began teasing her new collection—a series of artfully crafted jewels masquerading as items of strength and self-defense—it couldn’t have been at a more crucial time.
We were in the midst of March, a month that honors and celebrates women, but this year one that also highlighted the multitude of trials women—especially non-white women—still face. First there was the news from London that Sarah Everard was murdered while on the way home from a friend’s house (a police officer was charged with her killing); in the next breath, eight people were killed in a mass shooting across the Atlanta area, and six of the victims—Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, and Daoyou Feng—were women of Asian descent.
The news that followed continued to be bleak. Earlier this week in New York City, a 65-year-old Asian woman was brutally attacked in broad daylight while walking to church. As women everywhere conversed over the ways they often felt unsafe in public (and the small comforts of protection something such as their keys wedged between their fingers provided), news kept pouring in of violent anti-Asian attacks across the country and around the world, leaving so many of us feeling puzzled, outraged, and wondering what we could possibly do to help.
The idea for Amulet by D’s Power Up collection was conceived long before any of this news broke (though certainly not before any of these issues existed). Chou-Durfee designs jewelry with incredibly positive vibes, an absolute ray of light to connect with. So when she shared her first image of self-defense-inspired jewelry, I remember thinking how cheeky it was—a playful reminder not to mess with the person wearing it. But that thought was fleeting—there is so much more behind it, especially now.
“I’ve been designing protective jewelry for myself since I was in college—I would repurpose everyday items into spike rings and wear them when I walked on campus alone,” says Chou-Durfee. “I was very active in student government and headed up the campus crime prevention committee, so reviewing crime stats each week made me especially vigilant about the threat of personal attacks. Later, when I started my business, friends joked that I should combine two of my passions—Muay Thai [Thai boxing] with gems. In response, I made a two-finger ring that had a more decorative quality than a functional one—and made giving automatic hugs to friends a bit of a safety hazard. But recently, with the escalation of anti-Asian hate crimes and increased reporting of violence against women walking on their own, I decided to make a collection of self-defense jewelry that could be worn by anyone who wants to feel safer and have tools at their disposal should they find themselves in an awful situation.”
As an Asian American woman, Chou-Durfee isn’t a stranger to unwanted and inappropriate remarks or behavior. But in the age of COVID-19, it isn’t just comments that have become the norm. It’s the threat of violence, simply based on the way they look, that so many Asian Americans fear as they go about their day. “As an Asian American woman and daughter of immigrants, I’m frustrated, outraged, saddened, and exhausted by all the hate,” says the designer. “Recent events have been stirring up so many emotions and unearthing memories I thought were long settled. I’m only one person, with a tiny platform, but I want to be part of the solution. Whether it be through awareness or helping others who don’t feel as strong, I want to be a part of it. And I believe self-defense jewelry is something that, sadly, addresses an important and timely need.”
So if a jewelry collection designed with personal safety in mind can inspire and serve change, so it should. And the designer plans to do just that: 25% of the proceeds from each purchase will go to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization dedicated to addressing and combating anti-Asian racism.
“I love the juxtaposition of the diamond-topped Silver Knuckles—I feel so fierce when I wear them,” says Chou-Durfee of her favorite piece from the collection. “Of course, if you met me in person, I’d be smiling and laughing behind my face mask, but the hands would say, ‘Don’t mess with me!’ ”
Top: Be Heard safety whistle necklace in sterling silver and brass with Ethiopian opal and mother-of-pearl, $425; Amulet by DFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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