Events & Awards

Meet the First 6 Participants in the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative

Events & AwardsMar 31, 2021

Meet the First 6 Participants in the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative

They are: Marvin Linares, Malyia McNaughton, Jameel Mohammed, Constance Polamalu, Lisette Scott, and Dorian Webb.

20210331_Emerging Designers hero.jpg
The first six designers selected to participate in the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative are, clockwise from top left, Malyia McNaughton, Dorian Webb, Jameel Mohammed, Lisette Scott, Constance Polamalu and Marvin Linares.
New York—The selection committee behind the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative has picked the first six designers who will participate in the Lorraine Schwartz-backed program intended to create equity for minority jewelry designers.
 
Created by Schwartz and the Natural Diamond Council, the initiative launched in January and offers a total of $1 million of diamond credit to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) designers.
 
The idea behind the program is to remove a barrier to entry to designing with diamonds—receiving and establishing a line of credit—and to allow designers to establish relationships with diamond dealers. 
 
The plan is for the credit to be extended in increments of $20,000, to a total of 50 designers.
 
Last week, the committee—which is comprised of Schwartz, NDC CEO David Kellie, celebrity stylist Jason Rembert and Vanity Fair Fashion Director Nicole Chapoteau—revealed the names of the first six designers selected.
 
They are as follows. 
 
Constance Polamalu, Birthright Foundry
Polamalu is an American-Samoan woman and first-generation jeweler who is based in Annapolis, Maryland. 
 
A new mother ignited by the turmoil of 2020, she launched her jewelry brand, Birthright Foundry, as a way to preserve and resurrect culturally significant stories. 
 
The Samoan oratory culture runs through Polamalu’s veins; she considers English her first language and jewelry her second, with all her design stories written in metal.  
 
In addition to being a new mom and the founder and CEO of Birthright Foundry, Polamalu works as the chief operating officer at Maryland independent Zachary’s Jewelers. 
 
Dorian Webb, Dorian Webb
Instagram: @dorian.webb
Webb founded her eponymous company while studying architecture at Yale University. 
 
Inspired by the artistry of Venetian glassblowing, she started out combining Murano glass with gemstones to create colorful, handcrafted pieces sold by high-end retailers in the United States, including Neiman Marcus, as well as in Canada and Japan.   
 
Her work has garnered numerous awards. In 2019, it landed her a solo exhibition at the Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland and she was a finalist in the 2021 edition of TheNextNow, Ylang 23’s competition for emerging jewelry designers. 
 
After relocating from New York to Oakland, California, Webb re-evaluated her company’s goals and business model and decided to focus on online direct-to-consumer sales. She also launched Uplift, a project that created pop-up stores in empty spaces in downtown Oakland for Black businesses, artisans, and artists. 
 
An avid reader, Webb pens a monthly column for a local magazine and is working on a coffee-table book that demonstrates the existence of an influential, polyrhythmic African-American design aesthetic, and showcases often-overlooked Black artists and designers.    
 
Jameel Mohammed, Khiry
Instagram: @khiryofficial 
Mohammed began his design career at age 16, interning for Nicole Miller and Narciso Rodriguez while still in high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. 
 
In 2014 while studying political science at the University of Pennsylvania, a necklace Mohammed designed caught the eye of a Barneys New York executive and steered him in another direction—jewelry design. 
 
He accepted an internship at the company, where he learned the ins and outs of merchandising and retail buying, and in 2016 he launched Khiry, an Afrofuturist luxury brand. 
 
Khiry uses luxury fashion to make statements about the value of Black life and culture, and the brand’s polished and sculptural jewelry is crafted in gold vermeil and sterling silver with colored gemstones and handwoven leather embellishments. 

He also recently debuted a fine collection with Net-a-Porter.
 
Lisette Scott, Jam + Rico        
Instagram: @jamandrico
Growing up, Scott was constantly influenced by her familial cultures. 
 
Her grandparents were immigrants from Jamaica and Puerto Rico, and she was always curious about the upbringing and traditions—particularly the food and music—of their respective homelands. 
 
The colors, carnivals, art, beaches, and languages of both Jamaica and Puerto Rico all inspire Scott’s designs, and she created Jam + Rico (Jamaica and Puerto Rico) to dive deeper into both her love of creating and of the Caribbean. 

In addition to running her own company, Scott is the events chair for the newly formed Black in Jewelry Coalition (BIJC), which works for the advancement of Black professionals in the gem, jewelry and watch industries.
 
Malyia McNaughton, Made by Malyia 
Instagram: @madebymalyia
A self-taught designer based in Brooklyn, New York, McNaughton founded Made by Malyia in 2014. 
 
The youngest of five children, she was “fashion obsessed” from a young age, often reinventing her style.
 
After graduating from Florida State University, McNaughton seized an opportunity working with leading fashion brands in New York. 
 
Her jewelry brand, Made By Malyia, started with a search for the perfect body chain for an upcoming music festival, which McNaughton ended up creating on her own. 
 
Friends and strangers loved it, and soon she was making the design and selling it on Etsy. It was then that McNaughton realized she had discovered her true passion, and she quit her 9-to-5 job as a fashion buyer to design jewelry full time.   
 Her designs are inspired by New York City architecture, African culture, indigenous tribal adornment, and nature. 
 
McNaughton is also a member of the BIJC board of directors, serving as the organization’s treasurer. 
 
Marvin Linares, Marvin Douglas Jewelry 
Instagram: @_marvinxdouglas
Linares’ grandmother “stumbled across” the industry in the 1980s, introducing her grandson to the trade and using her work to bring Linares’ family from El Salvador to the United States. 
Jewelry, he said, is the reason he was born in the U.S. He was raised in Palmdale, California, a small desert city in the Antelope Valley.  
 
Linares gained experience in the industry working in sales for Tiffany & Co. and as a jewelry specialist for Dover Street Market in Los Angeles, but mainly persevered through his own persistence, curiosity, and creative nature. 
 
His brand, Marvin Douglas Jewelry, is an extension of himself, an embodiment of culture and creativity that explores Latin heritage and experience through fine jewelry, with designs intended to combine a youthful spirit with traditional craftsmanship. 
 
Linares’ designs have appeared in Vogue Mexico, Playboy, at the Super Bowl halftime show and on the red carpet at the Grammy Awards, among many others. 

 Related stories will be right here … 
 
These six designers received $20,000 in credit each, meaning there is still $880,000 in diamond financing available. 
 
The selection committee will continue to evaluate applications until the $1 million runs out. The NDC said it has additional applications in hand and expects to announce the second round of designers in July. 
 
It also is seeking additional applications. 

Anyone interested can learn more about these first six designers and apply on the NDC’s website. 

The Latest

Brian and Jessie Mann
IndependentsJul 19, 2024
Longtime D.C. Jeweler Brian Mann Dies at 70

Mann, whose family’s jewelry store was located inside the Pentagon, is remembered for being a thoughtful champion of the industry.

Tudor store in Denver
IndependentsJul 19, 2024
The 1916 Company Opens New Tudor Boutique

The 500-square-foot boutique is located in Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

Messika’s So Move Max Necklace
CollectionsJul 19, 2024
Piece of the Week: Messika’s ‘So Move Max’ Necklace

Dance all night long with the “So Move Max” set’s necklace.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Julien Tornare and Antoine Pin
WatchesJul 18, 2024
TAG Heuer, Hublot Will Have New CEOs

Luxury giant LVMH is reshuffling the leadership in its watches division.

Weekly QuizJul 18, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
Etsy billboard rendering in NYC
MajorsJul 18, 2024
New Etsy Campaign Prioritizes Creators Amid Backlash

Sellers and shoppers have spoken out against a rise in mass-produced merchandise on the platform meant to highlight handmade goods.

Ariana Grande Modeling in Swarovski Jewelry
MajorsJul 18, 2024
Swarovski Names Ariana Grande as Its New Brand Ambassador

The celebrity will star in Swarovski’s holiday campaign.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Grizzly emerald
SourcingJul 18, 2024
Grizzly Emerald Auction Garners $32.5 million

The miner said an 835-carat emerald saw “stiff competition” in its July sale.

Radhika Merchant’s Wedding Portrait
EditorsJul 17, 2024
6 Lavish Looks from the Ambani Wedding

Feast your eyes on the elaborate jewels worn during the wedding celebration of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant.

Smiling Rocks Haute Couture Dream Necklace
Lab-GrownJul 17, 2024
Lab-Grown Diamond ‘Dream’ Necklace Sells for $122K at Charity Auction

The piece, created by Smiling Rocks, was the top lot at the recent Ormeley Dinner.

Diavik Diamond Mine solar power plant
SourcingJul 17, 2024
Rio Tinto’s Diamond Production Down 28% in Q2

The company’s sole remaining diamond operation, Diavik, produced 702,000 carats of diamonds, down from 970,000 a year ago.

Buccellati high jewelry earrings
FinancialsJul 17, 2024
Richemont’s Q1 Jewelry Sales Up 2%

In contrast, the luxury giant’s watch sales fell 14 percent.

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Macy’s Ends Buyout Talks

The retailer will not be making a deal with Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital Management, opting to focus on its turnaround plan.

Crime police cars
CrimeJul 16, 2024
Thieves Nab $500K in Jewelry in Calif. Group Smash-and-Grab

The Berkeley robbery follows two other Bay Area robberies involving multiple suspects, one in May and one in June.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
ColumnistsJul 16, 2024
The PR Adviser: Awareness Starts With Your Online Store

Lilian Raji discusses the importance of having an intentional website design that aligns with your brand or store’s goals.

Catbird The Met collection
CollectionsJul 16, 2024
Catbird Debuts New Met Collection

It’s the second collaborative offering from the jewelry brand and the New York City art museum.

Craftsman holding Pomellato Arengario necklace
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Pomellato Acquires Valenza Setting Lab

The Kering-owned brand bought VSL to reinforce its manufacturing capabilities.

Ewa Abrams, Kering’s new president for the Americas
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Kering Appoints New President for Americas Region

The luxury conglomerate promoted General Counsel Ewa Abrams to the role, succeeding Laurent Claquin.

Tanzanite ring
MajorsJul 15, 2024
Signet Falls 11 Spots on NRF’s ‘Top 100’ Retailers List

The jewelry giant came in at No. 67 on the list, down from No. 56 last year.

 2025 Gem Awards logo
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Nominations Are Open for the 2025 Gem Awards

Submissions in the categories of Jewelry Design, Media Excellence, and Retail Excellence will be accepted through Aug. 23.

Sunlit’s Sun Goddess Supreme Ring and Pyramid Rutilated Quartz Necklace
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
NY Now Expands Emerging Designer Segment for Its Summer Market

Curated at Luxury Lifestyle will build on the former initiative, the Emerging Fine Jewelry Designer Incubator.

Collage of Caitlin Albritton and her jewelry
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Halstead Announces 2024 Grant Winner

Caitlin Albritton won the 19th annual Halstead Grant for emerging jewelry businesses.

Myne London
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Myne London to Support Malala Fund

The emerald supplier will donate a percentage of sales from its “Star Power” earrings to the nonprofit in support of girls’ education.

The Jewelry Symposium logo
Events & AwardsJul 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Is Looking for Speakers

TJS is seeking jewelry manufacturing and technology experts to speak at its 2025 event.

Sculptural Freeform Earrings
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Marrow Fine’s ‘Sculptural Freeform’ Earrings

The earrings were inspired by the landscape at Joshua Tree and Jean Arp’s abstract sculptures.

Madeline Fraser Gemist
EditorsJul 11, 2024
Q&A: Gemist CEO Madeline Fraser on Jewelry Visualization Technology

Fraser shares why she decided to shift from a direct-to-consumer retailer to a B2B technology company.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy