The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909. However, this Socialist Party of America initially designated this date in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against unethical working conditions. In 1910, the Socialist International association met in Copenhagen, where over 100 women from 17 countries attended and drafted a proposal for the celebration of an International Women’s Day.
As a result of this event, countries including Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland held their first International Women’s Day celebrationon March 19, 1911. In 1913 and 1914, International Women’s Day aligned itself with the peace movement and protests against World War I. Russia was the next country to nationally celebrate the day on the last Sunday of February. In the following year, countries across Europe celebrated International Women’s Day on or around March 8, where men and women held rallies either in protest of the war or to advocate alongside fellow activists.
In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Over 40 years later, the organization is working to achieve the goals set out in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentto economically empower women. By 2030, governments around the world are working to close the gender inequality gap to enable women to fully participate in international societies and economies.
As of 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force. In the United States, 47 percent of the workforce is made up of women. Nearly 70 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 participate in the workforce, and 75 percent of these women work full-time jobs.
The data also shows that women own close to 10 million businesses in the United States, accounting for $1.4 trillion in receipts. Female entrepreneurship showed no signs of slowing down over the past year. Research commissioned by American Express shows that in 2018, the number of female-owned businesses reached 12.3 million and 40 percent of new U.S. businesses were female-founded.
To support women in business, read on to discover and shop five outstanding female-founded jewelry brands.
Founded in 2015, Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui brought together their experiences working in the fashion and business finance industries, at Marc Jacobs and Goldman Sachs respectively, to create the mission-driven, minimalist jewelry label. Upon discovering an unfulfilled demand in the contemporary jewelry market, Kahn and Ezzahraoui knew that they could not afford to comprise on quality when creating their ethically-sourced and fairly-priced products. They say: “We’re in the business of disrupting the rules of the fine jewelry industry, which means everything from changing the customer experience, especially for women, to making beautiful pieces that can be cherished and coveted while doing good at the same time (both to the environment and the world at large).”
Kahn explains that the company only works with mines that have humane working conditions, offer fair wages, are respectful of local communities, and strive to lessen the industry’s environmental impact.
As a direct-to-consumer company, AUrate controls all areas of the business, allowing them to track every stage of their products’ development and distribution. Ezzahraoui explains that this business model enables the brand to “offer radically honest pricing with a supply chain that is both ethical and local — all of our designs are made in New York.” She continues: “In short, our objective is to give women the best of the best (highest quality, honest pricing, ethical sourcing, giving back), and our direct-to-consumer model is just a means to this end.”
As a modern luxury brand, AUrate breaks down the traditional meaning of luxury established by the traditional jewelry labels in the industry. Kahn says: “We are absolutely obsessed with trying to understand what she wants and then delivering on this. From product to design to quality to distribution channels, she dictates and we deliver, not the other way around.”
AUrate Medium Diamond PendantAURATE
Shop this diamond necklace to add a touch of elegance and elevate your everyday look.
The AUrate Medium Diamond Pendant is available now for $450.
AUrate Infinity Bar NecklaceAURATE
A staple in every woman’s jewelry collection, try out this sleek gold bar necklace.
The AUrate Infinity Bar Necklace is available now for $120.
AUrate Diamond Bezel BraceletAURATE
This diamond bracelet is the perfect finishing touch.
The AUrate Diamond Bezel Bracelet is available now for $250.
While these products might be built to last for a lifetime, jewelry brands often do not prioritize sustainability in the earlier stages of the product’s lifecycle. KBH Jewels’ founder and CEO Kimberly Berry Haisch believes her mission is to empower women through sustainable, luxurious jewelry. She explains how her brand’s items are created with the intention of being “beautiful modern heirlooms, pieces that can be passed down to future generations.”
Founded in 2018, the brand uses 100-percent recycled, and recyclable, 14K gold and unmined, lab-grown diamonds to create all of its products. As a direct-to-consumer label, KBH Jewels ensures that the company uses sustainable, ethical practices throughout every stage of the supply chain — from the sourcing and production to packaging and distribution phases.
Haisch says that, ultimately, luxury brands set the precedent for the rest of the industry, and, therefore need to be “at the forefront of the emerging circular economy which focuses on recycling, reusing, and minimizing waste.” She elaborates: “It’s not about being perfect, it is about trying to do better. Brands, companies, people — everyone needs to think about the health of the world.”
KBH Jewels Diamond Short BarsKBH
A timeless piece, try out these diamond-studded earrings to pull any outfit together.
The KBH Jewels Diamond Short Bars is available now for $550.
KBH Jewels Wonder Women RingKBH JEWELS
Perfect for stacking or wearing on its own, shop this geometrical ring to sharpen any look.
The KBH Jewels Wonder Women Ring is available now for $600.
KBH Jewels Leaf Climber EarringsKBH
Buy these leaf-shaped earrings to add an attention-grabbing, yet subtle statement to every outfit.
The KBH Jewels Leaf Climber Earrings are available now for $1,280.
Noura Sakkijha launched the now Instagram-famous brand in 2012. As a direct-to-consumer brand, Mejuri was created with the intention to make fine jewelry more accessible to the masses. By cutting out the middleman, the label is able to sell luxury-quality jewelry without the high-end retail price tag.
Through their more affordable pricing model, Mejuri demystifies the fine jewelry market and shows how luxury accessories can be suitable for everyday wear. Tapping into its customer base, the brand embraces a millennial mindset. Instead of debuting a new collection every season or year, the label drops micro collections every week. Through this distribution model, Mejuri is able to quickly gauge which products resonate with consumers without having to produce a large amount of inventory.
With the brand’s stunning 400-percent year-on-year growth, the brand clearly is doing a lot right.
Mejuri Mini Lotus BraceletMEJURI
For a simple addition of shine, wear this bracelet to finish off your workday look.
The Mejuri Mini Lotus Bracelet is available now for $169.
Mejuri Hue NecklaceMEJURI
A beautiful pop of color, change out your go-to necklace and try out this blue topaz necklace instead.
The Mejuri Hue Necklace is available for $220.
Mejuri Diamonds Line NecklaceMEJURI
Reflective and versatile, shop this diamond-embellished bar necklace to elevate your accessory collection.
The Mejuri Diamonds Line Necklace is available now for $295.
Melissa Joy Manning
In 1997, Melissa Joy Manning founded her namesake brand before sustainable fashion was accepted by the masses. Since the company’s inception, all of its products have been handmade and produced from 100-percent recyclable metals and precious stones. From the materials to the packaging, the brand leverages its resources to enter the circular economy. The company opened the first certified green retail store in Northern California, underscoring the luxury brand’s commitment to sustainability.
However, while the brand continues to uphold and find new ways to become more environmentally-conscious, Manning believes that sustainability must also be viewed through a human-centric lens. She says:
Often, when we speak about sustainability, we speak about [the subject] through an environmental angle, especially with jewelry, from hard metal pollution to water pollution, but I think that the people angle is just as important. From how stone cutters are treated to how fabricators in the U.S. and abroad are treated, to paying living wages, providing education for their children, I think that all of these things are interrelated. As we go into a world economy that is more transparent, I think that for a [brand] to be truly luxurious, I think the brand has to have responsibility. Otherwise, the actual infrastructures aren’t going to exist.
Through its human-first approach, Melissa Joy Manning, the brand, maintains an open line of communication with its consumers and is transparent about how its products are made. Over the past two years, the brand deliberately has been minimizing its list of global accounts, down from over 250 to under 100 stocklists, according to the founder. To thrive in the fine jewelry business in the long-term, Manning believes that companies must focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of the products that they produce.
Melissa Joy Manning 15 Drop Labradorite NecklaceMELISSA JOY MANNING
For an earthy and elegant statement, shop this bold necklace to add some dimension and color to any outfit.
The Melissa Joy Manning 15 Drop Labradorite Necklace is available now for $675.
Melissa Joy Manning Lunar Phase Open CuffMELISSA JOY MANNING
An updated classic, try out this cuff as we transition into the warmer months.
The Melissa Joy Manning Lunar Phase Open Cuff is available now for $395.
Melissa Joy Manning Flush Set Black Diamond RingMELISSA JOY MANNING
An edgy take on a traditional piece, this black diamond ring will elevate your look.
The Melissa Joy Manning Flush Set Black Diamond Ring is available now for $375.
Vrai & Oro
Born out of a desire to bring transparency to the fine jewelry industry, Vrai & Oro believes that consumers should be able to easily find high-quality, simply-designed products at an affordable price. The brand is committed to educating consumers on the realities of the jewelry industry, exposing many of its unethical practices. With a focus on creating and distributing products in a sustainable manner, the brand has abandoned the traditional seasonal or weekly drop models, and launches products in response to the consumers’ wants and needs. The company believes that maintaining an open dialogue with its customers is the secret to its success.
With a plethora of online, direct-to-consumer jewelry labels emerging in recent years, founder and creative director Vanessa Stofenmacher explains how the company maintains its competitive edge by producing all of the company’s products in-house. She says: “We believe the subtle details make all the difference — from how your earrings feel when you’re sleeping to how a ring sits on your hand when you’re typing, yet most competitors in the modern fine jewelry space are still buying pre-made jewelry designs made overseas.”
Vrai & Oro Emerald Diamond NecklaceVRAI & ORO
Bold and beautiful, swap out your more understated necklace for this large diamond pendant to make any outfit shine.
The Vrai & Oro Emerald Diamond Necklace is available now for $765.
Vrai & Oro Diamond Cuff RingVRAI & ORO
Put your best finger forward with this diamond cuff ring.
The Vrai & Oro Diamond Cuff Ring is available now for $1,645.
Vrai & Oro Baguette Diamond EarringsVRAI& ORO
Who doesn’t need some extra sparkle in their lives? Shop these long diamond earrings for the season.