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The Women Behind a Bespoke Bracelet

For international Women’s Day it only seemed appropriate to share the story behind one very special, bespoke bracelet. What makes this bracelet so special? Every person involved in making it – from the person who mined the stones to the person who commissioned it – is a woman!

HOW did this happen?
That’s a good question! It all started at one of our Women Who Rock events. Each year, in conjunction with the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, we host a trunk show for our customers to come meet some of our partners who are leading voices in the Ethical Jewelry movement. We feature Niki Grandics from Enji Studio Jewelry, Jennifer Dawes from Jennifer Dawes Design and Monica Stephenson from Anza Gems and Moyo Gems. That day we also had several women miners from Taznania who were in Chicago for their talk at the CRJC. What makes this day so special is that we were the first jewelry store to host a Moyo trunk show (It just launched the day before!!). Having the Thanzanian women miners with us made it that much more special.

Photo Mar 07 3 32 55 PM 1

What is Moyo & what does it have to do with this story?
Moyo is a very special gemstone collaborative that works directly with the Tanzania Women Miners Association to bring traceable, responsibly sourced gemstones to market. With each stone they are able to track where the rough gemstones were mined and who brought it to market. There is actually a PERSON behind each stone! (To learn more about Moyo click here when you are done reading the blog.)

Women of TAWOMA

OK. Back to the bracelet!
That fateful day one of our clients brought in some of her old, unworn jewelry to work on a custom design project with Jennifer Dawes. Remember, this event is all about responsibility & sustainability. So repurposing gemstones and recycling gold is right up jennifer’s alley! What our client wasn’t counting on was being there for the launch of Moyo, meeting many of the players involved and getting to see soooooo many gorgeous rough and faceted gemstones from Tanzania. After this amazing introduction to the Moyo initiative, our client decided to incorporate some of the stones into her design project with Jennifer. This is where things got tricky. The bracelet they were designing called for stones that were uniform in size. Monica didn’t have 3 matching Umba sapphires in the purple/pink family that our client was hoping for. Fear not… This is where the story really starts to kick in!

When Monica got back to her home base in Seattle she started sorting through all of her Moyo rough gemstones to see what looked like it could yield the right shape, size and color for this bracelet. We got lots of videos and photos…

 moyo pink sapphire lit PM

Moyo purple sapphire lit

And when we narrowed it down we got the rough sent to the store to look at too…

Loose Moyo Rough

I should mention that our client is an adventurous woman who is not afraid of the unknown. She knows her way around the custom jewelry process and had enough faith in us (and Monica) to believe that we would end up with some really beautiful stones from the rough she viewed.

Next the 3 rough stones we decided on were sent to Beth Stier to be cut. (Remember I said that EVERY hand involved in this project was a woman!) Beth is a Michigan based gem cutter who trained under award winning gem cutters and is now cutting gorgeous stones herself. Each stone was carefully cut to match in shape and size specifically for this project.

 cutting rough 3

cutting rough 1

cutting rough 2

 Moyo before after

Next up the 3 GORGEOUS Umba Sapphires, fresh from cutting and polishing, were sent to Jennifer Dawes’ studio. She got to work making this one of a kind cuff bracelet based on the sketches she made with our client while in Chicago. For those of you who don’t know her, Jennifer is a kick-ass designer/maker who knows how to wield hammer and torch. She completely hand fabricated this one of a kind bracelet! (See her hands…)

Dawes Hand Fabricating bracelet

 And now the finished piece! (You will have to excuse all of the pictures. We all knew how meaningful this piece was to each and every one of us and wanted to make sure we captured it’s making, every step of the way!)

Finished bracelet 2

Finished Bracelet

Last but not least… the woman who gets to wear it every day.

Happy Client crop

And now - The Women Behind the Bespoke Bracelet!

Monica Beth and Mama Eunice

From left to right - Mama Eunice (TAWOMA), Monica Stephenson (Anza Gems & Moyo Gems), Beth Stier (gem cutter extrordinaire)

Below - Jennifer Dawes (Jennifer Dawes Design)

Jen Dawes headshot


With Love-