Two African charities, One Girl Can and African Women Rising, were benefitted when actor Sarah Paulson wore Botswana diamond earrings created by jewelry designer Mateo, who is from Jamaica, to the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards program in September 2021. Paulson wearing the earrings to the prestigious awards program was representative of the mission of “BlackisBrilliant,” a partnership between the De Beers Group and RAD Red Carpet Advocacy.
The partnership’s goal is to bring talented Black jewelry designers together with A-list celebrities to showcase the creative talents of Black designers and to provide young people entering the industry some exposure. According to Sally Morrison, the director of public relations for Natural Diamonds at the De Beers Group, it is difficult for an independent designer to get their work displayed at Red Carpet events. Through the partnership of top designers and high-profile stylists, designers can create pieces of jewelry for a particular client and event.
Mateo, a self-taught designer who has made a name for himself around the world and whose jewelry collection was chosen by the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC to be sold at the African American Museum of Art and Culture, participation in the #BlackisBrilliant initiative is about providing aid to Africans who are most in need of help. Mateo responded to repeated requests from De Beers to become part of the campaign, and once he realized Botswana was involved, he jumped at the chance.
Through the program, it is possible to trace a diamond to helping women in Botswana, which is the main reason Mateo decided to join the program. A diamond can be traced back into villages and communities to see how it helps Black women and Africa in places that have suffered from the exploitation of their natural resources for years. With its program, De Beers provides meaningful opportunities for Black designers to make jewelry that features ethically sourced diamonds from Botswana. With each pairing of a Black designer with a celebrity, the firm makes a donation to a charity chosen by the designer.
The partnership began at the 2021 Met Gala, with the New York-based jewelry designer Jameel Mohammed of Khiry working with stylists Wayman and Micah to create the jewelry worn by Kiki Layne called “Black Power International.” According to Mohammed, the name was inspired by his recognition that it was the legacy of contributions from Black people around the world that formed the basis of the collection. It represented a sign to the wider diaspora and to the world that power is contained in the shared histories of Black people and that there is great potential for future collaborations.
The De Beers Group produces natural diamonds and obtains diamonds from Botswana, Canada, Namibia, and South Africa. It is committed to using sustainable practices, as well as increasing diversity and inclusion in its value chain.