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VIDEO: What are black jewellers’ experiences of working in the industry?

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A groundbreaking new survey has given an insight into the experience of the black community within the jewellery industry.

The results of this survey have been released today and show that more than half (51%) of black people in the industry claim to have experienced racism at some point in carrying out their work.

Additionally, nearly four out of 10 respondents (39%) said that racism experienced in the workplace had impacted their mental health in some way.

Worryingly, three quarters (74%) of those who experienced racism said they had not reported it.

The survey of black jewellers was carried out by Private 2 Public on behalf of Kassandra Lauren Gordon, a black jeweller, supported by the Goldsmiths’ Company and the Goldsmiths’ Centre.

It follows Kassandra’s open letter to the jewellery industry in June about the lack of diversity and inclusion for black people in the industry.

94 black jewellers responded to the survey, conducted between 25 August and 8 September.

The survey indicated that experiences of racism were most likely to take place at selling events or exhibitions (39%), in education and training (39%), or in interactions with suppliers (35%).

Kassandra Lauren Gordon commented: “The results of the survey are validation, were it needed – and I’m sad to say it is – of the collective experiences many black jewellers, me included, have had in the industry, from microaggressions to direct racism.

“Some people may find it shocking, particularly the pervasiveness of it in the industry, from the workshop to the lecture hall. Those that have experienced racism won’t be shocked at all.

“The focus now should be on how the jewellery industry is going to create a culture of inclusion for black people and become proactively anti-racist both in day-to-day life and longer term.”

She concluded: “For far too long black jewellers have been all but invisible in the jewellery industry, developing their practice and their business on the fringes. Before June, I knew of one or two other black jewellers and had come across no black tutors or industry leaders.

“Several months on, black-led networks, such as the Black Jewellers Network and The List, have evolved in response to Black Lives Matter and the failings of the jewellery industry to address challenges of inclusion.

“But this does not absolve the industry of its responsibility to be proactive and to act: to be open and transparent about the steps it is (or isn’t) taking to be more inclusive of black people. It will take time to develop trust – trust is fragile – and for change to happen. But happen it must.”

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