The Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN) is “saddened” to announce its immediate closure as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organisation, which collaborated on a guest edited edition of Professional Jeweller earlier this year, revealed the news via its social media channels and website.
The WJN was formed by founder Victoria McKay three years ago. It grew into a UK-wide organisation with the aim of connecting, growing and inspiring women working in the jewellery trade.
Founder McKay posted an open letter on the WJN website, now defunct, commenting on the news. The letter is now available only at Jewellery Cut Live’s website.
She said: “I’m saddened to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to close [WJN]. We will be closing our members networks and taking down our website within the next month.
“The world has changed a lot over the past several months and, like everyone else, we’re adapting with it. Not least, changes in my work life mean I no longer have capacity to lead WJN.
“At board level, after much soul searching and debate, myself, Nyasha Pitt, Kathryn Bishop and Rachael Taylor have come to recognise that our efforts could be invested in strengthening our individual abilities to create impact. For WJN to do the work it needs to be doing, it would need to commercialise outputs to afford to pay us a living wage. For us, it has never been about the money.”
McKay also took the opportunity, her last through WJN channels, to make a point about diversity in the industry:
“Jewellery industry leaders have not addressed issues around diversity and inclusion. Be that gender, race, sexuality or any other marginalised group. The industry remains led by white men, with a notable presence of Asian and minority ethnic leaders elsewhere in the trade. Yet it’s less welcoming to black people who strive for inclusion than it is to women.”
McKay finished, after thanking the organisation’s supporters and saying that its board members will continue WJN’s work in their own ways, by throwing down the gauntlet to the industry at large.
She concluded: “Custodians of industry: this is where your challenge lies. Fill the gap that the WJN is leaving – the race should be on to now create a meaningful, radical and future-facing organisation. The jewellery industry absolutely has institutions and organisations with considerable resources that could drive real positive change. We all really hope that someone else will step up and be counted; rise to this challenge with a holistic, inclusive and progressive vision.”
Professional Jeweller interviewed the WJN earlier this year. See the full interview below: