A term of endearment used by my boss, which is sometimes reserved for describing the colour of black diamonds.
It’s clear that he hadn’t had much day-to-day interactions with black people in the past, but luckily that didn’t stop him from granting me the entry into the elaborate spectacle that is jewellery industry. And for that, I am thankful.
Once I was comfortable in my new role as a graduate gemmologist, I started taking stock of the people I would see around The Garden*. To date, I have personally met a whopping two black people who regularly work within The Garden. There’s rumours of a third.
This is disgraceful.
The Garden is central to the UK jewellery industry and is based in London, a multicultural city that boasts millions of talented individuals from a multitude of backgrounds. Unfortunately the jewellery industry doesn’t seem to have much room for those of us with darker skin.
Upon realising this, I decided to find and reach out to as many black jewellery professionals as I could, which proved to be surprisingly difficult from the get go. In trying to find my fellow black jewellery enthusiasts, I quickly realised that if consumers wanted to support black owned jewellers or brands, they would face the same difficulties I encountered and may opt for a more visible, thus, more convenient competitor.
To my knowledge there isn’t a black jewellers association or advocacy group in the UK. There isn’t a place for black jewellers, designers, retailers or gemmologists to come together to discuss our position within the industry. There isn’t an organisation championing the youngers to explore careers within our industry. Yet, black people are responsible for a large percentage of the gemstones and metals used within the global supply chain.
This is going to change.
2020 put its thang down, flipped it and reversed it. Twisted the knife and threw a kilo of salt at the wound. Big changes are well overdue and this seems to be the year to enact them. I’m adding the lack of diversity within the jewellery industry, with specific relation to those of African or Caribbean heritage, to the long roster of problems we have to resolve.
THE LIST is the first step to developing a community of our own. I want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find and support black jewellery professionals. The long term goal is to increase our visibility to the point that consumers wont have to search. I want to see us online as well as on the high street. I want to see us leading the way in sustainable fast fashion as well as commanding respect in high fine jewellery. We, as black people, are capable of anything. This is just the start.