Overcoming Barriers to Success


Skills Development


African Women Jewellers

Breaking Barriers: Success Strategies for Black Female Jewellers

For centuries, in Africa, jewellery has been an intrinsic part of life, signifying African rites of passage, folklore, and symbolism. This cultural heritage has evolved and now features prominently in the showrooms and catwalks of prestigious shopping districts in London, New York, Paris, and other affluent precincts globally. These designs draw inspiration from the continent’s rich culture, and the diverse array of gemstones and bullion found beneath African soils brings these designs to life as both wearable jewelry and investment pieces. Consequently, African culture and resources are significant contributors to the US$200 billion jewelry industry.

Despite this, black female jewelers, both on the continent and in the global diaspora, remain on the periphery of this billion-dollar industry. It is with this background that AWIMA a webinar on 26 August 2020. The webinar explored the systemic barriers that hinder the success levels enjoyed by jewellers of non-African descent. It examined issues of race, gender, and sexism in an industry that uses terms such as “craftsmanship” and “liverymen,” reflecting a profession steeped in various cultural norms.

Project Partners

AWIMA extends its gratitude to the webinar partners for their support in empowering African Women Jewellers.


Key Activities

  • Panel discussions, Q&A sessions
  • Online
The webinar featured a panel of highly successful jewellers of African descent from across continents. They shared their stories of triumph and success, and discussed strategies for black female jewellers to prepare themselves for success in this competitive industry. Key insights and recommendations were provided, including participation in the Association of Women in Mining in Africa’s “Jewellery Design Competition,” which is open to all female jewellers. Moderated by Longo Mulaisho-Zinsner with panellists: Melanie Eddy, Melanie Eddy Jewellery; Satta Matturi, Satta Matturi Fine Jewellery; Lotanna Amina Egwuatu, Mina Stones; Jessica Aggrey, Aggrey Jewellery; Maggi Simpkins, Maggi Simpkins Jewelry.
outcomes & impact

Key Takeaways

(1) Participants gained an understanding of Africa's cultural and material contributions from the jeweler’s perspective. (2) They journeyed through the stories shared by our panelists. (3) They learned ways to get involved and launch opportunities for their craft. (4) They received insights on developing a network and actively contributing to the global community of female jewelers. (5) The AWIMA “Jewelry Design Competition” was introduced as one such initiative.
  • Support female jewellers of African descent; know them and buy from them, ask about their story;
  • Support the smaller brands and one woman bands – they often create bespoke one of a kind creative jewellery;
  • Purchase responsibly sourced gemstones from artisanal small scale miners during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be done through the Virtu Gem Initiative.@Virtu_gem(instagram)
  • Support Africa’s female artisanal miners, source your gemstones and bullion ethically and equitably contact the AWIMA team at: 
  • Share your experience (e.g. through your social media, participating in seminars) – there is always someone who needs it and vice versa – you might be the goldsmith a designer is looking to work with or a stone setter that a fellow jeweller needs to call upon;
  • Network, network it is often said your network is your net worth not just in monetary rewards but in knowledge and in building strong lasting relationships in an industry built on trust;
  • Help us create a directory of female jewellery professionals. The Jewellery and Gemstone Association of Zambia is compiling a directory of useful contacts and leads contact– contact for an application form;
  • Attend seminars and exhibitions post pandemic – The Africa Gem Exhibition Conference (AGEC) takes place in Zambia in 2021 Contact
  • Support African based associations, the Jewellery and Gemstone Association of Zambia is focused, not only on Zambian makers, but on cross cultural exchanges in jewellery training globally, for more contact;
  • Give back – mentor and teach jewellery making, make jewellery for a good cause and make someone happy;
  • Share your own list of call to actions with us on our social media, we would love to stay connected with you on your journey;
  • Market yourself, write about yourself, attend events, ask us and others to feature your latest news, share your story and your passion;
  • Follow our panelists on their social media, share and buy any work of theirs that you like, contact them, a brief bio of each panelist is included in this pack;
  • Follow AWIMA, JGAZ, AGEC and black female jewelers on social mediaGet involved in the AWIMA Jewellery Design Competition- a first of its kind, high profile initiative to identify, celebrate and support African female jewellers – by donating

For further information on any of the listed calls to action email:

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