The Jewelry Edit’s Rosena Sammi Is Punching Above Her Weight

NEW YORK–In her tiny storefront on Park Avenue, one block from Tiffany’s, Bvlgari and Harry Winston, designer Rosena Sammy is making the boldest statement yet about who will be part of the fine jewelry big leagues. increase.

Her online collective, The Jewelry Edit, has its first pop-up shop featuring over 150 pieces of fine jewelry by nearly 20 mostly female designers, including Katie Walker, Silvia Farmanovic, Jenny Kwon and Pippa Small. I’m here. Sammi hopes the store’s prime location will help her goal of opening her jewelery business to a wider group of designers.

As an industry, the barriers to entry for aspiring jewelry designers are high. Established brands such as Tiffany, Bvlgari and Cartier have long dominated the luxury jewelery market. Brands of all sizes need to navigate the market for precious stones and precious metals, which are often traded on the basis of intergenerational relationships.

Entry can be difficult for emerging jewelry designers and entrepreneurs, but for many blacks and browns who often lack the essential industry connections to get their business up and running. , has twice the difficulty. For minority consumers, the shopping experience can be similarly intimidating and exclusionary.

“You often feel, ‘Am I dressed up enough?’ Does it look like I can afford this? Am I asking the right question?” Sammi said. “Buying jewelry shouldn’t be.”

When the New Zealand-born Sri Lankan designer launched The Jewelry Edit in the fall of 2020, an e-commerce site featuring almost exclusively female designer pieces with prices ranging from $50 to $4,000, All these challenges came to mind. The site now has 60 of her designers, nearly half of whom I identify as people of color.

Sammi is making headlines, but the business is still small. For example, The Jewelry Edit’s revenue is up 100% in the last six months, but he’s still in the six figures, Sammi said. While she’s self-financing her money, her next year aims to add more in-person shopping, launch a podcast, and expand on themes like ethical jewelry design. , and begins pitching her to investors.

The pop-up, which opens in October and runs through the end of December, showcases her “responsible, diverse and inclusive” mission to higher-priced fine jewelry and early-stage items like ethically-mined gold. It is intended to expand into categories. The store hosted her five Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) designers who received Natural Diamond Council’s Emerging Designer Loan Credits. It was also the debut of The Jewelry’s “Fairmind Gold” collection of her edits. This is a series of private her labels made with metal from small mining communities where workers are paid fair wages.

Located in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world, our goal is to create a comfortable walking space for everyone.

“I could let you in and get the red carpet treatment. [jeweller] You put on white gloves, you get champagne and you’re shown around,” she said. She said, “I’ve also been to Zara’s checkout counter, and there’s a hoop in the turnstile that looks like her earring. Why isn’t it in between?”

unlikely change agent

In some respects, Sammi’s entry into the jewelry industry seemed unlikely. When she was working as a lawyer in Manhattan in the early 2000s, she found herself desperate for creative outlets, and she enrolled at Parsons in the city where she took several evening classes at the School of Design. I made it There, Sammi said, “jewelry is front and center and part of our cultural DNA.” I found

In 2006, Sammi left a law firm that “provided secretarial and car services” to launch her own eponymous jewelry brand. The brand worked in her apartment and the New York Public Library to come up with necklaces, bangles and earrings. Handcrafted in India. Ultimately, her wares were sold at high-end retailers such as Saks Her Fifth Avenue and Neiman Her Marcus, trend When Harper’s BazaarCelebrities such as Rihanna and Blake Lively have worn her designs.

But even when the brand was winning, the designers realized they couldn’t ignore the fact that “I was a young woman of color in a very white, male-dominated industry.”

“I have never met people of color in terms of department store buyers,” added Sami. “I was totally immersed in this box of ‘ethnic jewelry’… I was often just jewelry placed under a case or in a drop-down box on a website. did not.”

By the time she began winding down her brand in 2018, she was making private label jewelry for large department stores and chains. and social responsibility. (For example, in 2016 she launched her Who’s Sari Now collection of bangles, necklaces, earrings and bags made from upcycled sarees by Indian women rescued from human trafficking. launched.)

Her vision for The Jewelry Edit began to take shape shortly after she launched in September 2020. This summer’s social justice protests have brought conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion to the fore and center in many industries, including fashion and beauty. A handful of direct-to-consumer jewelry brands were creating new competition for historic buildings.

But even when more people are talking about DEIs (for example, that year the Natural Diamond Council gave $1 million in funding to help emerging designers buy diamonds), Sammi believed jewelry was still lagging behind in its approach to everything from inclusivity to social responsibility.

For Sammi, it was clear that The Jewelry Edit had to serve as a storytelling platform. This is meant to help the budding designer build meaningful, long-term relationships with clients, and a mentorship program for her to exchange industry contacts and other tips with new designers. There is also. (Her The Jewelry Edit on her website features the designer’s bio and photos along with pieces for sale.)

“Just the fact that she puts in this much effort to deliver to her clients…the understanding that this kind of thing is out there, [impressive]said editor-in-chief of the jewelry trade magazine JCK. new york times When rob report“It takes supporters like Rosena to get it out there.”

For the site to live up to its storytelling promise, it was also important to educate consumers about where and how jewelry is sourced, as well as the exclusive history of the sector. India Edit, a variety of exclusive editions featuring five jewelry lines by little-known designers in the United States.

“She’s really shaking up a field that’s been behind the times,” said Nyakio Grieco, founder of skincare brand Relevant: Your Skin Seen and co-founder of beauty e-commerce site Thirteen Lune. “She goes beyond optics to address the fundamental challenge of helping these brands build equitable businesses.”

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