As Women's History month begins to kick into gear, it's hard to know where to focus. You might be asking yourself how to celebrate women's history month. What is women's history in America? Women's history in Canada? Women's history in China?
The past decade has exploded with people rejecting socially normative ideas of beauty and gender. Women's History Month is a time to celebrate prominent women who have changed our culture and history. It is a time to justly give prominent female figures their spotlight. Celebrate women's history month by learning how women have influenced history, specifically the history of jewelry.
Coreen Simpson's illustrious career began as a photojournalist covering political dignitaries, cultural icons, musicians, athletes, and special events all over the world. Simpson became one of a handful of female photographers on regular assignments covering Fashion Collections in Paris and New York. For a long time, Simpson coveted antique cameos that depicted portraits of black women. In 1982, Simpson began designing and creating the kind of jewelry she always desired, black cameos. She wore her original pieces while photographing collections in Paris. Fashion editors began requesting the pieces and her clientele began to grow.
In 1990 Simpson's signature piece, THE BLACK CAMEO® was launched. Simpson’s photography artwork is presented in the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, The Bronx Museum, Le Musee De La Photographie (Belgium) and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, among others.
A master of imperial filigree inlay jewelry, Bai Jingyi, has been designing pieces by hand for over 50 years. She mainly uses gold because if its flexibility and "its sun-like radiance is unmatched by any other metal." In order to make the imperial filigree inlays, the gold is pulled into thing threads and made into small sections, then assembled into the design according to the various sections.
Jingyi says that she is not attempting to revive the old ways of creating imperial filigree. Instead, she seeks to understand how the old masters created such pieces and create new innovative ways of these ancient techniques. Jungyi says that it will be a great shame if the methods are lost to time. Now Jingyi works to teach others the master skills of creating imperial filigree inlay.
Farah Khan Ali
Farah Khan Ali is a Mumbai-based jewelry designer. She has conceptualized everything from extraordinary, one-of-a-kind emerald earrings for Princess Diya Kumari, the daughter of the last Maharaja of Jaipur, to the Swarovski crystal-studded crown worn by the pop star Beyoncé on the cover of her album "4".
With over two decades of experience under her belt, Khan says that she, "loves designs with a flair for the unexpected, with forms that are intricate, striking and bold, yet always feminine." Khan has won a multitude of accolades, including Best Jewelry Designer award at the 2013 and 2011 Retail Jeweler India Awards.
Paloma Picasso was a forerunner of the bold, colorful gemstone stone trend in the 1980s. Many of the stones Paloma first used were previously ignored by the industry. Her jewelry career began in 1968 with a commission from her friend and designer, Yves Saint Laurent. She then went on to work with Zolotas, a Greek jewelry company, and in 1980 began designing jewelry for Tiffany & Co. Women have commented to Paloma that by wearing her rings, they feel empowered. Paloma says, "Jewelry is linked to our emotions. When you buy a piece, there is always this idea that you will pass it on to the next generation."
Paloma designed this 396.30-carat kunzite necklace; this is currently being displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Visitors to The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago can also view her 408.63-carat moonstone bracelet accented with diamond "lightning bolts."
Sheryl Jones is a true pioneer and the only black woman in history to be on the NYC Diamond Exchange on 47th street, today. Jones began her career in fine jewelry in 1999 working as an apprentice with one of Belgium's finest diamond manufacturers. Several years later, she expanded her expertise supervising diamond production for an American manufacturer.
In 2002 Jones began selling her jewelry designs and now has her own jewelry line Sheryl Jones Designs. She says her "creations are fine jewelry with a fresh, current sensibility and a timeless appeal; heirloom objects that reflect their owners' individual style while also illuminating every woman's inner beauty." In addition to designing jewelry, sourcing gemstones, and running her retail outpost on 47th Street, Sheryl also pens a monthly gemstone column for Rapaport Magazine, the diamond industry's trade publication of reference.
The luxury jewelry industry is a male-dominated field, so celebrate women’s history month by investing in a female jewelry designer. Check out our April Cossey Collection and our Zola Affection Collection designed by women.