July’s birthstone is the ruby, and, boy, do I have the ruby ring for you! It’s good-looking, has a good story and promotes a good cause.
First I’ll give you the good story and explain the good cause. Monica Stephenson, the tall drink of water who writes the jewelry blog iDazzle, founded ANZA Gems in 2014. Through ANZA — a word that means “begin” in Swahili — Monica offers a transparent journey from the gem mine to the customer. She personally sources ethically mined, colored-gemstone rough from Tanzania and Kenya; brings the uncut stones back to the U.S. to be faceted by gem cutters here; and then has them incorporated into fine jewelry by designers with whom she collaborates. At least 10% of the proceeds from every sale goes back to three East African schools that Monica supports. As she explains on ANZA’s website:
“ANZA Gems creates a circle of development, beginning with fair trade prices paid directly to gem dealers in East Africa, supporting artists to create the finished jewelry, and then donating a percentage of sales to schools in gem communities. This includes education at the primary level, and also at the jewelry trade level with vocational schools that teach Africans marketable skills of gem cutting, grading and sorting. Our goal is to have East Africans facet their own gems, design their own jewelry and fully participate in the global gemstone trade.”
When I saw the first designer collaborations by talented peeps including Jennifer Dawes, Vicente Agor, Rebecca Overmann, Erika Winters and LilyEmme, I got jealous and was like, “Um, Monica, where are my ANZA gems?!” We met to discuss a big orange garnet. While we were looking at the garnet and a few other substantial gems, Monica brought out a pair of tiny rubies. She described how she acquired them in an email to me:
“I purchased two rough rubies in Tanzania. I wasn’t planning to buy these particular gems, as ruby requires additional export documentation to prove the origin isn’t Myanmar. But they were being sold by a woman, and I wanted to support her if I could, so I paid her in TZ shillings so she wouldn’t have to change American dollars.”
She brought the rubies to U.S. gem cutter Peter Torraca to facet, and he turned them into a pair of emerald cuts (meaning they were cut into a rectangular shape, not that he waved a magic wand and turned rubies into emeralds).
Most of the designs being created for ANZA have used larger stones, so I liked the idea of doing petite stud earrings for variety. I was briefly disappointed when one of the rubies turned out to have a natural internal fracture that could lead to breakage. (It happens. You never know how much rough is going to be usable.) After about two minutes, I cheered up because I knew what I wanted to do with the one good ruby. I made arrowhead dangle rings earlier this year …
… and I’d been looking for a good excuse to do another dangle ring. Here it was, all the way from Tanzania!
I know I’m biased, but I do think this is a good-looking ring.
So…July babies, here’s the coolest, sweetest ring #collaboration by @wendybrandesjewelry for @anzagems! It’s a ruby I bought in Tanzania, cut with care by @ptgems and then set in #rosegold by the fabulous Wendy B! So excited about this #WendyBrandesxANZAgems creation–affordable luxury that gives back to education in Tanzania and Kenya!! ❤️✨? #July #julybirthday #julybirthstone #ruby #julybabies #emeraldcut #conflictfreediamond #recycledgold #gemsforchange #gemstones #gemstonering #rubyring #madeinusa #responsiblejewelry #idazzle #eastafrica #education
A photo posted by idazzle (@idazzle) on
To buy this ring, contact ANZA Gems at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, you don’t have to have a July birthday to treat someone (or yourself) to this beauty.
Rubies rock all year long!
Stay tuned for my next ANZA project. It’s coming soon and it features that orange garnet Monica showed me.