Whether it’s donning the creations of Black designers in her visual albums or launching a fund to provide grants for small Black-owned businesses, songstress Beyoncé has been dedicated to supporting Black entrepreneurs and amplifying their work. According to WSFA12, her latest effort is centered on empowering the next generation of Black jewelers.
The Houston native joined forces with bespoke jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz for the creation of scholarships for aspiring gemologists to attend the Gemological Institute of America. The institute offers courses that cover the different facets of jewelry manufacturing and how to evaluate diamonds, pearls and stones. As part of the initiative, the students received $20,000 scholarships that will cover the costs of equipment, lab courses and other fees. Among the recipients were Alabama native Audriana Osborne, Kulla Jatani from Seattle and Shelton Bradford from California.
Beyoncé says she hopes the effort will be instrumental in addressing the lack of representation within the jewelry industry. “I was impressed with their passion and the knowledge of gems that so many applicants displayed,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I am praying that this is just the beginning of opening more doors to diversity and raw inspiration in the jewelry industry.” Schwartz added Beyoncé’s efforts in the social justice space inspired her to join forces with the singer to create the scholarship fund. “Her work for the Black community is without limit and her efforts have inspired me and made me extremely proud to be her friend and partner on this initiative,” she said.
News about the Beyoncé Knowles-Carter x Lorraine Schwartz GIA Scholarships comes at a time when there is a major need for diversity in the jewelry design space. Research shows only 3.8 percent of gemologists are Black.