It’s 2020 and we are here to start conversations about important topics that need and deserve more attention and actionable change.
In conversations we carry with our families, we’re not afraid to challenge outdated views and systems that prevent positive change. In discussions with friends, we don’t hesitate to interrogate topics some find ‘uncomfortable’, and question just why it is they may hold these views.
In quiet moments and at every opportunity, we’re doing our best to maintain momentum, to listen, to learn, and to educate ourselves and others on ways we can all collectively do better by minority groups, by BIPOC, by those with disabilities, by the environment.
We’re proud to use our voices to carry out these conversations, especially in considering not all have the opportunity to do so, and we’re proud to display our views even further in the clothes and jewellery we wear.
More recently, we’ve been seeing a rise in activism apparel, and in particular, with jewellery. The most recent example of activism jewellery being used to help spread a message comes by the way of Kamala Harris, who made a poignant statement with her choice of necklace to the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States.
In being sworn in, Harris made history as the first woman elected to the executive branch of the US government. She is also the first Black and Asian person to hold the Vice Presidency.
What Harris wore for the occasion is, of course, unimportant for the significance of the moment, however, the Vice President did make a considered statement in the custom pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado.
For every major moment in her political career, it’s said Harris has worn a pearl necklace as a homage to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which she joined while studying at Howard, a historically Black college, according to the New York Times.
The piece itself is comprised of open 18k gold links with 12 Australian South Sea pearls suspended in each. Each link is set with 11 small diamonds. Altogether, the piece represents sisterhood.
“The necklace has a few unifying themes; the gold chain link symbolizes strength, the pearl is representative of both femininity and resilience, and the diamonds add a hint of glamour that I felt was perfect for the occasion,” Rosado told Harper’s Bazaar.
Michelle Obama is another political figure to make a statement with her jewellery. The former First Lady wore a gold necklace that spelled out the word V-O-T-E during the Democratic National Convention in August, 2020.
Throughout what is arguably one of her most impassioned and powerful speeches to date, the former First Lady spoke of the importance of voting for a change in leadership, particularly for young Americans.
Of President Trump, Obama said: “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment”.
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Who says it better than @michelleobama ? The former First Lady gave a powerful speech last night for the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, emphasizing our empathy and resilience as Americans. Below is an excerpt: “Even when it all feels so overwhelming, working parents are somehow piecing it all together without child care. Teachers are getting creative so that our kids can still learn and grow. Our young people are desperately fighting to pursue their dreams. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And when the horrors of systemic racism shook our country and our consciences, millions of Americans of every age, every background rose up to march for each other, crying out for justice and progress. This is who we still are: compassionate, resilient, decent people whose fortunes are bound up with one another. And it is well past time for our leaders to once again reflect our truth. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, it is up to us to add our voices and our votes to the course of history, echoing heroes like John Lewis who said, "When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something." That is the truest form of empathy: not just feeling, but doing; not just for ourselves or our kids, but for everyone, for all our kids.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Obama also hit hard at Trump: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ For the full transcript of the speech, check out our stories. • #dnc #dnc2020 #michelleobama #vote #vote2020 #speech #dumptrump #fucktrump #dumptrump2020 #empathy #resilience #leader #flotus #firstlady #democrats #democraticnationalconvention
Obama’s necklace, made by a Black female-owned label called ByChari, was inundated with orders from like-minded people all over the world following the former First Lady’s speech. And it’s not the only label making pieces that do a whole lot more than sparkle.
Below we’re looking to create something of a hub for finding jewellery labels creating pieces around activism. We’ll continue to update this list as we discover more, and we’d really appreciate your help in helping us identify new brands.
If you know of a label sharing a message with a piece of jewellery, then we want to hear from you. Slide into our DMs on Instagram and let us know more about them.
Haus of Dizzy
Wiradjuri woman Kristy Dickinson is the founder of jewellery brand Haus of Dizzy and the self-professed “Queen of Bling”. Using her solar-powered laser cutter, she crafts one-of-a-kind statement earrings and accessories inspired by her Indigenous heritage and love of ’90s hip hop.
With her designs, Dickinson likes to “shine light on political, Indigenous, environmental and feminist issues,” she said in an interview with SBS. And her work has caught the eye of many famous faces around the world. Actors Miranda Tapsell and Drew Barrymore are dedicated fans, in addition to RnB icon Lauryn Hill.
Black female-Owned label ByChari creates fine jewellery pieces by hand and using sustainable practices in her Los Angeles studio. Founded and owned by Cari Cuthbert, the brand’s V-O-T-E necklace has become its most recognisable piece after it was worn by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2020.
“This necklace was designed for powerhouse women who let their voices be heard, especially at the polls,” founder Cuthbert says of the piece on her site. The V-O-T-E necklace is available for purchase in 14k gold, rose gold or white gold, and starts from $490 with free shipping to Australia.
ban.do‘s mission is to make people happy with its range of clothing, accessories and decor, and its Jen Gotch x Iconery necklaces were created to do just that, by sparking conversations around mental health and helping to remove the stigma of common disorders.
With all sales of the collaboration’s three necklaces, each of which read ‘Anxiety’, ‘Depression’, or ‘Bipolar’, the label is donating 100% of net proceeds to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
A 100% Aboriginal-owned and operated business established by proud Warumungu/Wombaya woman, Jessica Johnson, Nungala Creative is a Sydney-based communications agency that also produces statement jewellery, art and accessories.
The product range reflects Nungala Creative’s “ongoing commitment to the visibility, strength and empowerment of our people”, seen in example by its three-heart ‘Decolonise’ necklace and the Black Lives Matter earrings pictured below.