When it comes to fine jewelry, Pippa Small is something of a poster girl for philanthropy. Small has worked for more than 20 years as an independent designer-maker, and is renowned for her organic aesthetic and vast repertoire of varied and unusual gemstones. Awarded an MBE in 2013 for her services to ethical-jewelry production and charity work, Small has also paved the way where sustainable luxury is concerned. One of the first jewelers to work with clean gold, she has tirelessly campaigned to reduce the industry’s impact on the environment and respect labor rights, most notably working with the Turquoise Mountain foundation to support local jewelry artisans around the world.
Providing training, education and employment for young craftspeople, the foundation also creates a market for their work, with proceeds supporting local schools that teach traditional handcrafts. “I believe that the art of jewelry-making can enhance life, create opportunities, protect precious traditions, grow the confidence of craftspeople around the world and reverse the tradition of exploitation associated with the gem industry over the centuries,” says Small. Projects working with the Kuna Indians of Panama, the Batwa of Rwanda, the San Bushmen of Botswana, slum dwellers in Kenya, Afghan artisans, and Aymara goldsmiths in Bolivia resulted in Small being honored in 2008 by the human-rights organization Survival International, for whom she now serves as an ambassador.
I believe that the art of jewelry-making can enhance life, create opportunities, protect precious traditions, grow the confidence of craftspeople around the world and reverse the tradition of exploitation associated with the gem industry over the centuries”Pippa Small
Octavia Zamagias, founder of Octavia Elizabeth, has a mission: to work sustainably while empowering and supporting women in the jewelry sector. Last year, the Los Angeles-based designer partnered with Myne London, a predominantly female-operated emerald mine in Pakistan’s Swat Valley that aims to establish a formal and responsible supply chain for its gems. Myne London focuses on promoting female empowerment via access to education and skilled employment, such as lapidary roles. “I am incredibly proud to be partnering with the female founders of Myne London,” says Zamagias. “They’re empowering local women and bringing refreshing transparency to the emerald supply chain,” she explains. Myne London works tirelessly to develop relationships with mine owners, to improve financial charity and accountability within the industry. Zamagias’s hope is that her collection of 18-karat-gold designs set with these verdant gems will generate a positive economic impact, especially for women, while shining a light on responsible emerald sourcing in Pakistan. “With a 70-percent-female workforce at the lapidary in Islamabad, Myne London is providing work opportunities for women that have previously not existed – this in itself is exciting to me,” she adds.
Jesse Marlo Lazowski
As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Jesse Marlo Lazowski, founder of the contemporary fine-jewelry brand Marlo Laz, is steadfast in her philanthropic convictions. “The leading principle in my family is to bring one’s humanity to the moment, which means standing up for what’s right and doing whatever is in our power to help,” she says. Explaining that her family history has deeply defined her path in life and shaped her character in many ways, Marlo Lazowski was inspired to make a difference and now sits on next-generation boards for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – two organizations dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, racism, discrimination and extremism worldwide.
Marlo Lazowski recalls attending the opening of the USHMM in 1993 with her father, when she was just three years old. Passionate about the museum’s work educating people about the atrocities of the Holocaust, and its efforts to prevent future genocide and hate, Marlo Lazowski joined the USHMM’s New York Next Generation Board and chaired its record-breaking fundraiser in 2019. In addition to serving on the ADL’s Next Generation Advisory Board, Marlo Lazowski has also completed the organization’s Glass Leadership Institute program, which tackles hatred and bigotry in the community by empowering young adults. “Knowing the horrors of the Holocaust and how lucky some of my family was to survive, I feel so deeply that no one should ever have to experience such atrocities, so have chosen to support institutions that work to fight against hate every single day.”
The leading principle in my family is to bring one’s humanity to the moment, which means standing up for what’s right and doing whatever is in our power to help”Jesse Marlo Lazowski
Lauren Harwell Godfrey
“As a woman and a mother, I want to do anything I can to help make the world a safer place, particularly for women and children, who suffer from a disproportionate rate of abuse,” explains Lauren Harwell Godfrey, founder of Harwell Godfrey. When she isn’t crafting her signature rainbow-hued jewels imbued with potent symbols and talismanic motifs, Harwell Godfrey serves on the board of Futures Without Violence – a leading national organization dedicated to promoting safety and justice for women, children and families. “Futures is right in my back yard in the Presidio in San Francisco, and I’ve had the incredible good fortune of meeting many brave survivors who have come forward to tell their stories at events held there,” says Harwell Godfrey. “I’ve been supporting a particular project at Futures, The Courage Museum, a first-of-its-kind design lab for the human change needed to prevent violence,” she adds. The Courage Museum hopes to inspire visitors to embark on projects such as building safer homes, schools and communities through immersive and virtual learning, while advancing gender justice and racial equity.