Eden Diodati Q&A: Beauty Through Compassion

The beauty of Eden Diodati jewellery is intrinsically connected to the brand’s social purpose. The striking designs are created by a cooperative in Rwanda who provide employment to women rebuilding their lives after the devastations of civil war and genocide.

We spoke to founder Jennifer Ewah to find out more about her social mission for Eden Diodati and what inspires those unique designs.

Jennifer Ewah, Founder of Eden Diodati

Jennifer Ewah, Founder of Eden Diodati

 

How did Eden Diodati begin?

My ‘label of love’ was started at the convergence of love and creativity.

It was in 2007, when I travelled from London to Cairo for a World Fair Trade Organisation meeting that I first met ethical producers. Some were successfully creating social impact and supporting their communities through producing handicrafts – mostly sold through charity-affiliated retailers. Yet I understood their dissatisfaction at the status quo. They felt unable to create routes to market for more high-end products that spoke to the true nature of their skills and heritage.

A passionate sense of drive grew in my heart and upon my return to London, the seeds of Eden Diodati were born. My vision is to create a brand that evokes a utopian ideal of love for others, through its supply chain values, ethos and commitments. A brand that creates beautiful pieces in the luxury space. A brand that continuously builds on its social impact through providing increasing numbers of marginalised women with sustainable employment. A brand that evokes beauty through compassion.

 

Eze Torque (1)

 

How does this mission translate into the Eden Diodati brand?

Our story is about jewellery and its impact on humanity. It is a tale of rebirth through creativity and personal journey, and about a group of remarkably brave and resilient women from Rwanda, seeking to rebuild their lives following the devastation of civil war and genocide.

We produce Eden Diodati jewellery in conjunction with an extraordinary cooperative of women who survived the genocide in Rwanda. Gathering orphaned and widowed women, the cooperative provides work for more than 5,000 female genocide survivors in 52 savings cooperatives.

Many are living with HIV/AIDS after experiencing gender-based violence during the conflict. Employing centuries old artisanal heritage, their courage, skill, fortitude and faith inspires my creative direction, whilst challenging pre-conceptions of ‘Made in Africa’.

We are named in part after the utopian garden, the Garden of Eden. However, my ‘Utopia’ is not found in perfect circumstances, but in courageous daily acts of love, forgiveness and generosity such as those shown gracefully by the women in the cooperative towards each other, Hutu and Tutsi working side-by-side.

Eden Diodati provides sustainable income to formerly marginalised artisans, but it is also a conduit that exposes humanity through the light of love and solidarity.

 

Kalifa Bangle_Edo Pendulum Earrings

 

Can you tell us a bit more about the cooperative and the women behind it?

The Rwandan cooperative was founded by two sisters in Kigali. From a humble beginning, the sisters organised about twenty women and taught them how to weave and bead, and how to enhance their skills with new design techniques. They are both forces of nature.

Meeting the founders of this Rwandan cooperative felt like the first of a series of little miracles. They took me to their hearts; gaining their trust has been the privilege of my life. I researched the operations and achievements of the sisters extensively. I started to talk to them and to understand the mutuality of our desires to see change and transformation in the lives of those who had been broken by trauma.

Some of our master weavers in Rwanda contracted HIV through gender-based violence during the conflict. One in particular is constantly in my heart; she struggles daily with the scourge of her illness. Her deep courage, smile and femininity is almost always in my mind, and courage represents the cornerstone of Eden Diodati.

 

Eden Diodati
Azu Earrings

Eden Diodati
Eze Torque

Eden Diodati
Edo Pendulum Earrings

Eden Diodati
Kalifa Bangle

Eden Diodati
Orun Earrings

Eden Diodati
Delta Rain Cuff

Your jewellery designs are unique and incredibly detailed – where do you look for inspiration?

The collections draw inspiration from an artistic heritage that has bound global cultures together for centuries, as well as from the eclectic beauty found in nature.

I can be as inspired by modernist European architecture, or renaissance paintings as I am by the magnificent traditions of ancient African cultures. There is something evocative and conceptually stunning in the power of design to build bridges through visual signifiers. I love deft, subtle references to ancient cultures, because the future is always best informed by nature and the past.

I am originally from Africa; but within my brand I embrace influences of my multi-culturalism as a global citizen; multi-culturalism in design is a form of modern heritage. In life as well as in the sphere of art and design there is more that unites us than divides us. There is more, through diversity, that is elegant, beautiful and joyous than there is through mono-culturalism, and that is one of the strengths of the human race, and our collective pursuit of beauty.

 

African Toga Earrings_Delta Rain Cuff (2)

 

Do you have a particular woman in mind when designing?

My muse is a style conscious woman, but also a woman of soul. Of heart, passion and empathy.

In my mind’s eye, the woman I design for is full of compassion. Why? Because women by nature are nurturers. A mother in Paris can relate as easily to a mother in Kigali about the desire to be beautiful, about the desire to see her children grew healthy, happy and strong.

 

How would you like your jewellery to make the women who wear it feel?

Empowered by strong, iconoclastic design combined with the inner heart of my socially ethical brand. Wearing an Eden Diodati piece is more than an aesthetic statement.  It is a commitment to a fashion ethos embedded in a four-tiered philosophy represented by Eden Diodati’s Talisman.

The Talisman draws together four brand values that together reflect the optimism of the human condition:

Art & Collaboration: An amalgam of global cultures influences the design.

Manufactured Ethically: Delivering opportunities for marginalised people to recreate their own futures.

Wearable Philanthropy: Eden Diodati’s commitment to donate 10% of dividends to Médecins sans Frontières recognises the need to address human fragility on a global scale.

Beauty Through Compassion: A brand offering style conscious women the opportunity to experience true beauty that is valued for both aesthetic and social impact.

 

Click the Butterfly Mark to find out the Positive Actions that make Eden Diodati a brand to trust. 

 

 

If you enjoyed this, you might like to read The Desire for Diamonds: In Conversation With… Arctic Circle and Argyle Pink Diamonds

Sophie Corfan

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