The inspired story of Eden Diodati is one of jewellery and with consideration for its impact on humanity.
Founded by Jennifer Ewah, it is a tale of rebirth through creativity, 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.
Eden Diodati, expresses itself in the beautiful artistry of its jewellery pieces with a connection to the brand’s social purpose. Their goal is to positively impact with a shifted paradigm in high-end jewellery and bring to market ethical luxury, with priority to craftsmanship, provenance and elevated design. Eden Diodati’s story represents collaboration across continents, transcends cultures and celebrates artisanal heritage for positive social good. The brand works with master craftswomen from Rwanda, and sources metal components accredited by the Responsible Jewellery Council from Italy.
We are delighted to have the opportunity to Q & A with Jennifer to learn more:
What led you to become a jewelry designer?
I love the elemental nature of metal and stones. As materials, they possess a primordial quality, because they originate from nature itself. They are precious by nature. In addition, jewellery design is like a wonderful form of sculpture or architecture, on a micro scale. In ancient cultures jewellery was highly significant; it is the most ancient form of adornment. Our jewellery is close to our heart. In millennia past, before elaborate textiles became more widely available, we made ourselves beautiful through jewellery; it was second nature, like body art. This anthropological essence of symbolism and the romance of jewellery inspires me! For example, Masai beaded jewellery from Kenya possesses cultural and individual meaning and significance in communities based on unique designs for each woman. It is a closer reflection of her soul and her standing than her clothing alone.
My family comes from the same region in West Africa that is famous for the Benin Bronzes so perhaps designing with metal is in my blood; but equally, I am also European, and here I have observed that jewellery has always conveyed more meaning in terms of a person’s unique sense of style than clothing; from the crucifix to the arm cuff. And pertinently in the 21st Century culture of trend-based mass produced ready-to-wear, beautiful jewellery is a fashion statement that is made to last. It is bequeathed to the next generation. A woman will pass her jewellery to her children, as a talisman, a reminder of provenance, a representation of her style and as an heirloom.
What is the origin of your company name?
Eden Diodati is named in part after the utopian garden of Eden, and after Giovanni Diodati (June 6th 1576 – October 3rd 1649), the Swiss-born Italian theologian and translator of the Bible into Italian. After I decided upon the name of the brand, someone pointed out that in Latin it approximately translates into “Heaven, made by God.” We certainly are a label of optimism, compassion, and that embraces utopian ideals.
Tell us about your vision, philosophies, fashion ethos and Eden Diodati’s ‘Talisman’.
Our pieces are hand-beaded in a social cooperative numbering 5,000 women artisans who survived the genocide in Rwanda, by master weavers, Hutu and Tutsi working side-by-side supporting each other as artisan sisters, especially as some of the ladies contracted HIV and Aids during the conflict. The components are made in Italy then transported to Africa for beading; a collaboration across continents for positive social good. My brand’s purpose is to represent them, economically empower them within the luxury sphere, and tell the story of their courage and skill, transcending challenging circumstances as triumphant women of artisanal excellence. The kind of determination and courage, love and forgiveness that they show each day, and to each other, is awe inspiring, as is the craftsmanship of these ladies who might automatically be perceived to be beneficiaries of charity. On the contrary, they have heritage and unrivalled artisanal talent.
Employing centuries old artisanal heritage and craftsmanship, their skill, courage, fortitude and faith inspires my creative direction, whilst challenging preconceptions of ‘Made in Africa’. Our vision is to shift paradigms in luxury fashion with collections of high-end jewellery that make stunningly intricate use of innovative materials and exotic influences.
Eden Diodati is my label of love. It is a brand of prêt-á-porter jewellery meeting progressive philanthropy as design led, sustainable luxury for the modern woman of discernment.
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 stirs both the soul and the senses.
The depth of the honour of being able to enhance the lives of the women that we work with moves my soul.
Why was it important to you to blend luxury and sustainability?
I have no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have entered the fashion world without coupling my brand ethos with social justice. I am a trained lawyer, a career path that flowed from my passion for human rights issues and the pursuit of social justice. Empowering formerly vulnerable women in solidarity through beauty and design, thereby telling their story of resilience and fortitude and being able to empower them is our raison d’etre. Alongside the central concept of our brand philosophy, inviting customers to be part of our ethical circle of solidarity and empowerment, is the statement that we hope to make about beauty through compassion. I truly believe that outer beauty is born of inner beauty and that belief informs and inspires our ethic in the most fundamental way.
What has the effect been of creating your cooperative on the women involved?
I partner with an extraordinary pre-existing social cooperative of women in Rwanda, called Gahaya Links. They are multiple award winning. The cooperative was started by two sisters in Kigali, returning home after the genocide from exile in Uganda. From a humble beginning, the sisters organised about 20 women and taught them how to weave and bead, or how to enhance their skills with new design techniques. Talking to 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 started to talk to the sisters and to understand the mutuality of our desires to see change and transformation in the lives of those who had been broken by trauma.
Each Eden Diodati piece affords the lady that beaded the piece at least ten times the basic average wage in Rwanda, but moreover there is exceptional pride, occasioned by these treasured women taking their rightful place as dignified artisans of exceptional craftsmanship, in helping to produce high-end pieces within the luxury sphere.
Your jewelry design with the waterfall effect is distinctive and unique. What inspired it?
The timpani of warm African rain. I can remember the feeling and sight of it as a child.