With the backdrop of the majestic, Sun Splashed installation by Nari Ward, I interviewed world-renowned jewelry designer Kara Ross at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) before she hosted a program and conversation as part of her Diamonds Unleashed Salon Series, taking place around the world. Ross, whose fine jewelry is sold in top luxury stores from Bergdorfs to Neiman Marcus to Harrods, launched a new jewelry line — Diamonds Unleashed — a company she says creates ‘profit with a purpose.’
The Diamonds Unleashed movement features a collection of products including engagement rings, fine jewelry, accessories and tabletop; charitable partners that focus on girls’ education and employment; an event series in major cities; a powerful network of influential ambassadors who are in solidarity with the project’s mission and a robust digital presence including an informative website and social media channels.
The invite only, salon-style Diamonds Unleashed events feature speakers who are disrupting their own industries — from ballet and virtual reality to wine and the film industry. The Miami conversation, “Hispanic Women Disrupting Arts and Culture,” was introduced by Darlene Boytell Perez and included panelists: artist Teresita Fernandez; designer Maria Buccellati; Lourdes Lopez, artistic director of the Miami City Ballet and was moderated by CBS4 entertainment reporter, Lisa Petrillo.
I interviewed the dynamic Kara Ross to learn more about her innovative new company.
DAISY: What inspired you to create Diamonds Unleashed?
KARA ROSS: I’ve been in the fine jewelry business 25 plus years. I’m a certified gemologist, very lucky to have been selling to top stores and even to the White House. They have pieces of mine in major museums and I love what I do. I really wanted to give back so I built this new company, Diamonds Unleashed.
DAISY: What makes this different?
KARA ROSS: It’s a company with a social purpose. All net profits will be donated to our non-profit partners who are working to educate young girls. Specifically, we’re donating to two charities that will benefit girls between the ages of 12 and 18.
DAISY: What is the parallel between diamonds and women?
KARA ROSS: What we’re doing here is taking the hardest, most beautiful substance on earth which is a diamond, and using it to symbolize women’s strength. Adjectives associated with diamonds are: beautiful, strong, multi-faceted, brilliant, unbreakable. To me that symbolizes women. There’s nothing wrong with the association of a diamond with love and marriage but we want to extend that. The diamond is ubiquitous. Everyone in the world knows what a diamond is and this works because it’s the highest standard.
DAISY: How are you using recognized, successful women to spread your message and serve as role models, like globally-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid?
KARA ROSS: We have a few platforms of building this whole program with help from all of these high profile women that are behind us as ambassadors — from fashion, finance, sports, media, entertainment and philanthropy — spreading the word. We will go to London next year and Zaha Hadid will be on the panel at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. We also have Serena Williams, Susan Rockefeller, Melissa Etheridge. So many women… many, the names aren’t immediately recognizable but they’ve done amazing things, like the author who wrote the book which was made into the film, “Still Alice,” starring Julianne Moore.
DAISY: How did you choose the two charities?
KARA ROSS: In deciding what to focus on, because you can’t be everything to all people, we decided to focus on education which is so important, then to focus on secondary school education for girls ages 12 to 18. We looked at a whole bunch of non-profits and vetted the scaleability of the programs. We met their founders and considered many different aspects. There are many wonderful nonprofits but you can’t pick 20. We picked two to begin with. Girls Who Code and She’s The First. Then as this scales up we’ll be able to grow more and drive more money to different and more partners.
DAISY: What should people know when buying the jewelry and where can they find it?
KARA ROSS: By showcasing Kara Ross-designed jewelry, with each piece of the collection incorporating the Diamonds Unleashed logo and beginning at price points around $100, we will enable women in a range of demographics to participate actively in the movement and disrupt the idea of who can buy, wear or own a diamond. Our retail partners are HSN and Neiman Marcus.
DAISY: Tell me about the beautiful Diamonds Unleashed symbol that will be on all items.
KARA ROSS: It was adopted from the American Sign Language symbol for unity. Ambassadors and supporters can use it as a hand signal to show their support of the Diamonds Unleashed movement in photographs across social media platforms.
DAISY: What do you hope to achieve with the symbol itself?
KARA ROSS: The ultimate goal with this symbol — a large diamond with a smaller diamond elevating out to form a heart — is for it to represent women’s empowerment. Just like you know what the peace sign or a pink ribbon represents.
DAISY: I know you have big plans to get the word out. What’s next?
KARA ROSS: It has to do with art. The reason the peace sign became so ubiquitous is because different artists got a hold of it and did their interpretations of it. I love contemporary art and collect it. We’re approaching different artists, whether they’re painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, graffiti artists and say to them, ‘this is what we’re doing and if resonates with you take the symbol and do your interpretation.’ At the end of the year we’ll have a big auction at Sotheby’s to premiere it at Art Miami next year. It’s very exciting.
The next Diamonds Unleashed Salon Series event is in Dallas, MARCH 15th at the Rachofsky House. Upcoming salon locations include Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Napa Valley, Boston and London. For more information on the salon series visit: http://www.diamondsunleashed.org/events/
For more information: diamondsunleashed.org