Legacy: The UK Black Jewellers Fund
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
This musing is inspired by the activism of ethical fine jewellery designer Kassandra Lauren Gordon. She has lived in many places in the UK and settled in London seven years ago. She studied jewellery manufacturing and design in Hatton Gardens at Holts Academy, now the British Academy of Jewellery, learning the traditional techniques of making handmade jewellery before setting up her own East London studio. She uses Fairtrade gold and her work is sold at stores across Europe and has participated in many events, including IJL and the Islington Wedding Fair. She has also had four solo gallery shows at Craft Central. She is the choice for hard-working and confident women who want pieces that they can wear seamlessly from day to night. Her jewellery styles are minimal with organic, textured elements contrasting with geometric shapes.
In her Open Letter to the jewellery industry published June 23rd 2020 on The Jewellery Cut, Kassandra Lauren Gorden shares her experiences as a jewellery designer in London. An excerpt from her letter titled, 'An Open Letter To The Jewellery Industry re Racism' reads: “Due to a legacy of systemic racism, many Black jewellers are hindered by socio-economic disadvantages. We also don’t have established networks and professional communities that jewellers from other minority backgrounds do.”
It's a thread, we can all see and feel across many creative industries and sectors. Editorial publications, designer houses and fashion brands have been called out for racism since the fight for racial equality was reignited when the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many more mobilised people to take action through protest and media (please vote USA friends, don't let there be another trump card). Kassandra asks for the UK jewellery industry to be more inclusive and offer more opportunities for Black jewellers to be able to contribute to the industry. She has compiled a list of practical questions and suggestions for the jewellery industry to consider. Each one can help increase the visibility of Black jewellers in this industry and amplify our voices.
In her open letter Kassandra wrote a plan of action found below:
Create a pledge. What are you going to do to support Black jewellers? What resources can you offer? Create a task force/quality assurance group to hold the pledge accountable.
More financial aid. We need a hardship fund for Black jewellers, as well as dedicated bursaries and grants for things like materials, education, studio space, PR and participation in exhibitions.
Increase visibility. The jewellery industry bodies, associations and trade publications should proactively highlight Black jewellers in communications, social media and publications. Trade shows should celebrate Black talent through dedicated installations or catwalk shows. Let’s create a directory for Black UK-based jewellers.
Amplify Black Voices. Send out a survey to Black jewellers asking them about their experiences of the jewellery trade. Invite Black jewellers to speak at industry events. Hire Black jewellers to be a sounding board and sense check issues in the jewellery industry.
Open doors. Develop structured mentoring schemes for Black people. Create space for Black jewellers in jewellery and department stores that don’t rely on the type of sale-or-return agreements that can financially cripple designers.
The UK Black Jeweller Hardship Fund campaign has been created to help her vision for equality within the jewellery industry. She has volunteered over 240 hours in recent weeks towards organising and bringing into fruition a fund that, hopefully, can lead to a programme working with a well-known jewellery trust, all this is in the pipeline and I will update the blog as it comes into fruition.
Here are the details of The UK Black Jewellers Hardship fund:
This fund is for 10 UK Black Jewellers (£1000 each).
The rest of the money (£4000) will go on fundraising fees, project management fees, fund monitoring and publishing a report.