Artist Alelli Tanghal created image to mark the new NDC initiative.

The Natural Diamond Council and jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz have launched an Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative with $1 million of diamond credit dedicated to support emerging jewelry designers who are Black, Indigenous and/or people of color.

The NDC and Lorraine Schwartz see the initiative as a step toward fostering a more equitable future for the fine jewelry industry as a whole.

“It is time the diamond and fine jewelry industries make actionable plans to advance equity and inclusion,” explained David Kellie, chief executive officer of NDC. “The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative was devised when our team began candid discussions during the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer. There was a collective passion to making a meaningful change within our own industry. We used the time since then to study the systemic barriers to entry that too often affect the BIPOC community, like access to purchasing diamonds without a history of industry references. Dissolving this barrier through this initiative will help individual jewelry designers develop their own businesses while strengthening the success and progress of the diamond business as a whole.”

The program will promote inclusivity with a goal to serve as many Black, Indigenous and people of color designers, with an interest in furthering their diamond jewelry business, as possible. It will offer mentorship and a $20,000 credit to each designer and stand as a guarantor with diamond suppliers. This will help designers establish credit in their own names and to better understand the process of diamond financing along with consignment and memo terms. Once credit and relationships are established, the designers will have access to the NDC and Lorraine Schwartz’s partners along with their wide networks and resources.

“As a young female designer, I had my own struggles breaking into the diamond industry — and I’m a third-generation jeweler and diamond dealer,” Schwartz explained. “I know firsthand how difficult this industry can be, so I want to be part of the change in creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment.”

The selection committee is made up of Schwartz; Kellie; Nicole Chapoteau, fashion director of Vanity Fair, and celebrity stylist Jason Rembert and will review and approve designer applications until the $1 million diamond credit runs out. Honorary advisers Pharrell Williams, Kelly Rowland and Tina Knowles-Lawson — each a personal friend of Schwartz — will also lend their opinions at various stages of the program. Schwartz said the trio were selected because of how inspired she is by all the work and goodness they have put out into the world.

“Designers that are dedicated, hardworking and passionate — no matter their race, ethnicity or gender — should be allowed an equal opportunity to succeed,” Schwartz said. “The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative will provide the tools, mentorship and unparalleled access to industry resources for underrepresented designers in the BIPOC community to be successful long term.”

Previous work with diamonds is not a requirement to apply and, once accepted, designers will be encouraged to utilize a variety of diamonds, including those of differing colors and sizes, in order to celebrate the uniqueness of natural diamonds.

“Creativity and innovation are the forces that drive our industry forward and in order for that to happen, we need more diverse viewpoints,” Kellie said. “This initiative is designed to support emerging BIPOC designers by giving them access to the diamond jewelry industry, which has traditionally been limited, and fostering their ingenuity and successes.”

Applications launch today at naturaldiamonds.com/eddi.

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