Melanie Grant, the award-winning jewellery author, curator and change-maker, takes over tomorrow, January 23, as Government Director on the Accountable Jewelry Council (RJC), the physique that units the agenda for sustainability within the jewellery and watch trade. Grant is anticipated to lift consciousness and understanding of what accountability is, encourage creativity in the way in which the trade approaches it, and convey readability to the opaque world of uncooked supplies provide chain. “It is an enormous honor, each thrilling and terrifying,” she says on her historic appointment. “Each society and the RJC are evolving; I am excited to be in a management place at a pivotal time for jewellery”.
A extremely revered editor and all-round power for good within the trade, in recent times she has been behind such boundary-breaking tasks because the 2020 e book Coveted: Artwork and Innovation in Excessive Jewellery, which made the case for jewellery as artwork, and Sensible & Black at Sotheby’s, the watershed showcase for Black jewellery designers. With every daring transfer – writing what grew to become a seminal work as her first e book, or approaching Sotheby’s with an concept for a sale centered on Black expertise – the outcomes have been felt across the jewellery group. Now, she is taking up sustainability, from a platform that might attain the entire trade, no megaphone required.
When the RJC was based in 2005, two years after the Kimberley Course of, practices in mining and provide chain particularly, have been opaque. Whereas nice strides have been revamped the previous 15 years, enforcement with worldwide requirements — just like the Fairtrade framework which requires that each entity dealing with gold from miner to designer holds a license — typically appears near-impossible. That is the place the RJC is available in.
The group was arrange by a gaggle of main jewellery gamers spanning mining to retail, to allow firms to function extra responsibly. Now the jewellery’s greatest skilled physique, it counts 1,700 members throughout 71 international locations, every of whom have dedicated to sustainable enterprise by way of the RJC Code of Practices for moral, social, human rights and environmental issues; and the RJC Chain of Custody for totally traceable and accountable sourcing. As a complete, members signify 60% of the $164 billion world jewellery market, and an enormous alternative to form a extra sustainable future for jewellery.
Grant believes traceability to be the one most essential precedence for manufacturers at present, saying: “belief has change into a beacon not too long ago and RJC certification performs an essential function in ensuring supplies sourcing is finished responsibly. Society has undergone a seismic shift previously few years, Era Z customers make choices based mostly on belief, they should ensure that the jewels of their arms are as accountable as potential”. With 65% of uncooked supplies for jewellery produced in Africa, a Black lady who has risen to such a management place on the prime of the trade, makes for a robust image of circularity, signaling a willingness to be extra open and suppose creatively.
“We’re with sustainability, the place we have been with digital 20 years in the past. Those that embraced it thrived. Those that dismissed it, in some ways, acquired left behind,” says Grant. “I wish to assist everybody perceive what they’ll do to assist, as a result of all our futures depend upon it. It’s important to do it, however you will not be alone – we’re in it collectively,” she continues. That sense of group, of a shared dedication to driving change, is one thing Grant is expert at creating: she gathers individuals up and conjures up them to work for the larger good, whether or not meaning difficult the under-representation of Black individuals in jewellery or addressing the challenges of sustainability extra creatively.
Rising up in London with a British mom and Jamaican father, Grant was decided to seek out her method into journalism and has held positions at titles together with The Occasions, The Monetary Occasions, and most not too long ago, luxurious editor of The Economist‘s 1843 journal, the place she started specializing in jewellery. “Working within the press, each time I noticed somebody a bit completely different – Black, brown, feminine – profiled for an enormous job, I might learn the story to seek out out why they have been chosen. I hope that somebody who seems like an outsider appears at me and thinks ‘that is one thing I may do someday'”.
At a time when clear messaging is important, the RJC has made a shrewd selection in hiring one of many trade’s most expert and passionate storytellers. As the primary artistic to tackle the function, prime of her to-do checklist tomorrow morning, shall be to simplify what it means to be accountable and create “want, understanding and motion in any respect ranges. It is about making sustainability extra compelling, by together with the human expertise, and injecting ardour into the discourse. The buyer ought to care sufficient to make the fitting choices, professionals ought to perceive what they are often doing.” And all that solely comes from cautious communication.
“Jewellery is the love of my skilled life, I am excited to have the ability to honor it in a brand new method,” smiles the Gem Awards Media Excellence winner. To anybody occupied with working in jewellery, however who is likely to be fearful that they’d not slot in, she says: “come on in, it is good! It can come for you if you’re prepared, give it every thing.” All through her profession Grant has made her personal luck; however now the RJC has discovered her, at simply the fitting time for everybody else within the trade.