In honor of International Women’s Day, jewelers across the United States and around the world are hosting fundraising events and 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 official organizers. Since its first IWD rally in 1911, more than a million IWD people and groups have recognized March 8 as a “call to action,” according to organizers. This year’s hashtags are #IWD2022 and #BreakTheBias to express the 2022 theme of accelerating women’s equality.
“We are a women-owned and run business. Empowering women has always been central to our mission,” says Amy Peterson, co-founder of Detroit-based socially responsible jewelry company Rebel Nell. “All we do is to support and create more equitable opportunities for women facing barriers to employment, so it was only natural for us to host an event for International Women’s Day.”
Here are some ways the jewelry industry is celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 and beyond.
Special events. Women-led jewelry companies as well as designers organize day-long, week-long and month-long activities around IWD. One example is Rebel Nell’s International Women’s Day event, which brings together leaders in art, fashion and wellness for an afternoon of collaboration and discovery. The event kicks off a year-long campaign in which Rebel Nell shows her commitment to #BreakTheBias for women everywhere, Peterson said.
Speakers at its second annual event include Parade founder Cami Téllez, graffiti artist Lady Pink and visual artist Quinn Faylor. Attendees of the paid event receive a box for International Women’s Day, which includes a Shinola leather notebook and a silver or gold “I Am” necklace with the words Fierce, strongWhere 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 down stigma in business, art and fashion,” says Peterson. “The Fierce, Strong and Unique necklaces will remind attendees of the power of female-centered community.”
Fundraising opportunities. As female entrepreneurs, sisters Gorjana Reidel and Iva Pawling of Gorjana and Richer Poorer, respectively, know that starting a business can be difficult. The pair are determined to change that. For International Women’s Day, the sisters co-designed a capsule collection and are donating 100% of sales to Dress for Success, a nonprofit that provides workwear to low-income women while they navigate the the job interview process.
The sisters say they have a fundraising goal of $50,000 for their three-product collection, which includes Pawling’s easy layering tank top, Reidel’s necklace and a two-piece set that includes both items. The sisters worked together to design the pieces, which symbolize their individuality as well as their connection, they say.
Rewards and calls to action. On March 8, the nonprofit Pure Earth will present its Force of Nature award to goldsmith and jewelry designer Christina Malle. Malle is a former human rights lawyer who creates art and nature inspired jewelry made with responsibly sourced precious metals and gemstones. Her new capsule collection will also be launched on March 8.
As part of Ethical Metalsmiths and the Mercury Free Mining Project, Malle advocates ways to solve long-term problems in the industry. As part of the Pure Earth Jewelry Industry Action Committee, Malle is working with Pure Earth and members of the responsible jewelry industry to brainstorm ideas that will increase awareness among colleagues and consumers.
For Malle, the term responsible sourcing means paying miners and tailors a fair wage, avoiding child labor and forced labor, buying from known sources who can substantiate their own liability claims, and mitigating the environmental impact of extractive industries. Additionally, Malle uses Fairmined gold, which is traceable to the mining source, or gold with traceable origins. These miners receive fair wages, avoid or mitigate mercury, and reduce the environmental impact of mining.
Malle also supports Pure Earth’s annual Pure Gold jewelry auction held each fall to raise funds for Pure Earth’s work that trains artisanal miners to go mercury-free and helps restore land damaged by mining. gold through reforestation.
“Pure Earth pleasantly surprised me when they offered the Force of Nature award. It is incredibly humbling to accept this honor,” Malle says. “I feel challenged to live up to the trust placed in me.”
Pure Earth’s 2022 Force of Nature award winners also include former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner and Dr. Netzy Peralta, an anthropologist who works with indigenous potters.
Malle also sits on the board of the New York Metro Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA). Simultaneously, the WJA is hosting 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 conjunction with more than 30 members of the WJA Women’s Executive Leadership Forum with the goal of empowering women to purchase fine jewelry for themselves. March Is Me month will officially kick off on March 1, calling on every woman to celebrate herself, visit a jeweler, and treat herself to fine jewelry, no matter the reason.
Top: Gorjana Reidel and Iva Pawling co-designed a capsule collection based on their two activities 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).
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