Adorn is a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to luxury jewellery

Jennifer Ewah: Beauty With a Purpose

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A thing of art is a joy forever, but a kind heart that looks for beauty in a soul discovers spiritual bliss for eternity. Jennifer Ewah is a jewellery artist with a mission to combine beauty with compassion – every righteous and ethical act of hers results from putting others before her own interest.

Her energies are as much focused on delighting the senses with extraordinary jewellery collections as going the extra mile to extend a hand of support; it is about seeking beauty inside out.

Edo Pendulum earringsHer London-based brand Eden Diodati is “a sustainable label of love”. You buy an Eden Diodati piece and a part of the proceeds goes to Médecins sans Frontières. Eden Diodati currently produces jewellery together with a cooperative of women who survived female genocide in Rwanda. Jennifer is of the belief that “luxury with conscience” is coming of age, and more and more consumers are buying from brands that adopt ethical practices without compromising on the magnificence of a jewellery piece. Jennifer proves that living by the codes of life has taken her a long way.

Your collections are born out of kindness and empathy. Your brand Eden Diodati donates 10% shareholder dividends to Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, an international non-governmental organisation that works in developing countries affected by endemic diseases). Is linking beautiful work to charity a new way of brands creating social value?
Eden Diodati was born out of a fascination and desire to capture the compassion, empathy and strength that lie at the heart of the beauty of the women that I know – my mother, a doctor, being the foremost example. My brand seeks to evoke beauty through crafting wonderful pieces, yet also to commit to love for others. The ethical aspect of the brand is not independent of the aesthetic; it informs and inspires it in the most fundamental way. The mission of our brand goes far beyond selling as many pieces as we can.
As an ethically responsible business, we have a message to
convey and positive social benefits to be accountable for. A piece of jewellery is not just an adornment. It is a conversation piece; each of my pieces carries a powerful message of resilience and transformation from those whose lives have been improved through its creation. This is the essence of the future as it encompasses socially ethical luxury.

Delta Rain CuffAre customers willing to pay a tad more knowing that some of the proceeds will go to various noble causes that will contribute to society’s well-being?
In the current age of sustainability consciousness, there is renewed awareness of deeper issues and social responsibility among consumers; traditional luxury customers are demanding ethical accountability from brands and seek to patronise companies that signify positive social change: the group that has an ethical conscience, for which they are willing to pay a slight premium.
More importantly, I feel strongly that sustainable businesses are critical to a type of renaissance in both the public and private sector by offering to the market appealing products that also encourage wider social engagement with the latent ethical issues of our epoch.
However, although we provide sustainable employment to formerly marginalised and vulnerable women, our collections are design-led and exceptionally high quality to ensure that luxury customers want to invest in our pieces. Our circle of ethical production enables luxury consumers to empower disadvantaged women sustainably and offers our clientele the
opportunity to experience true beauty through compassion.

Azu EarringsTell us more about the genesis of your brand name Eden Diodati, and the tag line, ‘because outer beauty is born of inner beauty’.
Eden Diodati is named in part after the utopian Biblical garden, and after Giovanni Diodati (June 6th 1576 – October 3rd 1649), the Swiss-born Italian theologian and translator of the Bible into
Italian.

My label of love was started at the convergence of two foundational, inextricably linked concepts: love and creativity. At the heart of our ethos is the desire to serve others, matched
only by the desire to see inner beauty reflected through outer beauty in design. Luxury fashion is an ideal medium. It is a unique communicator of visual and social ideas as well as a conduit of individual and collective aspirations.

Eden Diodati believes in beneficiation – as it works with a unique cooperative of women who survived the genocide in Rwanda. How did you think of roping them in for jewellery making?
Eden Diodati currently produces jewellery in conjunction with an extraordinary cooperative of women who survived the genocide in Rwanda. Gathering orphaned and widowed women, the cooperative provides work for more than 5,000
female genocide survivors organised into 52 savings cooperatives. Many are living with HIV and AIDS after experiencing gender-based violence during the conflict. Employing centuries-old artisanal heritage, their courage, skill, fortitude and faith inspire my creative direction, while challenging pre-conceptions of “Made in Africa”; shifting paradigms in high-end jewellery and bringing to market ethical luxury within a brand context affording priority to craftsmanship, provenance and elevated design.

This Rwandan cooperative was founded by two sisters in Kigali. From a humble beginning, the sisters organised about 20 women and taught them how to weave and bead, or how to enhance their skills with new design techniques. Talking to the founders of this Rwandan cooperative felt like the first of a series of little miracles.

They took me to their hearts; gaining their trust has been the privilege of my life. I started to talk to the sisters and to understand the mutuality of our desires to see change and transformation in the lives of those who had been broken by trauma. We share a bond of faith; often I am overwhelmed by the largesse of our common conviction: of being deeply loved by God. “Utopia” is not found in perfect circumstances, but in courageous daily acts of love, forgiveness and generosity such as those shown gracefully by the women in the cooperative towards each other; Hutu and Tutsi working side by side. I am not from Rwanda but I witnessed with the world the reports of the genocide and felt so deeply moved. I had to do something and the privilege of my life is being able to shine a light of solidarity – through our brand actions, ethos and commitments – on women who went through that experience and had the courage, despite experiencing gender-based violence in war, to look beyond trauma and to courageously press on in service of their dignity, their children and their communities. To come alongside women like that is a true honour.

How often do you come up with collections? Which is your preferred metal?
I design constantly but aim to produce a collection twice per year. My preferred metal is gold.

How long does it take you to produce a collection?
About three months but the design process takes much, much less time.

What are your best-selling jewellery pieces?
Earrings.

Tell us about your other hobbies.
I adore music – from neo-soul, jazz to classical and ambient. It moves the soul and I have an eclectic soundtrack to my life.

What is your design philosophy?
Be true to your sense of style, eschew trends, but wherever and however possible, reverse engineer purely the aesthetic and think of ways in which you can use it to empower and serve
other people.

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