I was so thrilled to receive the Ethical Jewellery, Business of the Year award, and to be awarded for something I love doing.
I have been so fortunate and privileged to have been able to pursue projects that have taken me around the world, to have creative working relationships with craftsmen and women in such diverse places as the Kalahari desert to the war-torn streets of Kabul, from the slums of Nairobi, to the fair trade cooperative gold mines of the Andes.
Along the way I have learnt so much about the lives of others, in often difficult and challenging places. I’ve seen the struggles of poverty and hopelessness and also what can happen when a small business flourishes, the rippling impacts this has on many, the creative satisfaction of a young woman in Afghanistan finishing her first piece of jewellery for a shop like Monsoon.
I have been overjoyed to see the pieces of jewellery made from recycled materials that were discarded on a city dump (which incidentally is also the home to thousands of people in one of the largest slums in Africa), turn into pieces of jewellery sold on Bond street or in Notting Hill, adorning the arms and necks of women who in wearing these pieces show a sort of solidarity with the unknown women who made them.
The jewellery industry has historically been an exploitative and damaging industry. It is so exciting that thanks to the efforts of people like Greg Valerio, Cristina Cisilino and others who have pioneered these alternative and empowering means of producing beautiful things, we can bring much needed employment, income and new standards to the industry across the world.