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New Group Supports Black People in Jewelry Trade

November 2, 2020  |  Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… A group of industry members has formed the Black in Jewelry Coalition (BIJC) to help Black professionals gain access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in the trade.

The coalition’s board of directors is composed entirely of Black industry professionals. Membership of the organization will be open to everyone — especially Black people — throughout the entire industry pipeline, including corporate, trade, jewelry design, mining, manufacturing, and even consumers, the group said last week.

“Black people work in and support the gem and jewelry industry, yet there is a disparity,” said Annie Doresca, BIJC’s president and chief financial officer of Jewelers of America (JA). “We have a shared experience of what it’s like to be Black in the jewelry industry, and because of that we can identify roadblocks…and create solutions, but most importantly, access.”

BIJC’s initiatives include a consumer-facing directory of Black-owned designers, access to funding, and resources for developing relationships with major distributors, manufacturers, miners and gem dealers. The group will also help students procure scholarships and internships, and develop programming and resources focused on creating more diversity in the hiring process.

“The jewelry industry has been slowly awakening to realize that it has not been a hospitable environment for people of color, especially Black people,” said Elyssa Jenkins, vice president of BIJC and director of membership and digital content at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC). “Many of us have been working for quite some time towards these initiatives both with and without our allies, so that there will be true change that stands the test of time.”

BIJC cofounders and members of the board:

Annie Doresca, BIJC president; chief financial officer of Jewelers of America

Elyssa Jenkins, BIJC vice president; director of membership and digital content at JVC

Malyia McNaughton, BIJC treasurer; owner of Made by Malyia

Lisa Garris, BIJC secretary; human resources director, lab and research, North America, for the Gemological Institute of America

Adrianne Sanogo, BIJC chair of education; graduate gemologist

Lisette Scott, BIJC events chair; owner of Jam + Rico

Miya Owens, BIJC corporate outreach chair; associate counsel and director of mediation at JVC

Nellie Barnett, BIJC communications chair; manager of media and public relations at the Gemological Institute of America

Reginald Johnson, BIJC nominations chair; chief diversity officer and senior vice president for North America field human resources at Signet Jewelers

Image: The BIJC board. (Black in Jewelry Coalition)

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