Act fast for a chance to win one of the 18K gold, rough-gem designs I created for my friends at ANZA Gems, as ANZA celebrates hitting 10,000 followers (organically!) on Instagram. You have until 9 p.m. ET this Wednesday, November 25, to follow ANZA and the Gem Legacy on the ‘Gram, and tag someone as described in the giveaway post here.
The Gem Legacy is a nonprofit supports East African mining communities through education, vocational training, COVID relief, equipment modernization, and other initiatives. Working ethically in collaboration with artisanal miners has been ANZA’s mission since my friend Monica Stephenson launched the venture 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. A percentage of sales is then reinvested in the mining communities. Monica started out by aiding a Maasai primary school in Tanzania, but since then ANZA’s reach has expanded. I especially like the emphasis on women miners in Tanzania, via the Moyo Gems program. This year, of course, the coronavirus pandemic brought international travel and gem sales to a crashing halt, leaving many miners who unable to make sales for more than seven months. Thankfully, in October, Moyo Gems was able to conduct virtual market days to get business started again.
I originally started working with faceted stones provided by ANZA Gems, making big, bold pieces like this award-winning two-finger ring (left in photo) and a toi et moi ring (the colorful ring on the right).
Last December — right before the world went crazy — I finished my most recent ANZA design in that style. It’s a one-of-a-kind 18K rose gold ring featuring a rare, orange-y pink Padparadscha sapphire weighing 1.54 carats, surrounded by cabochon-cut Paraiba tourmaline.
But in 2017, in between these projects, Monica showed me some packages of smaller rough gems that she felt would be too labor-intensive to cut and polish. I said, “Let me take these as is,” because I couldn’t get over the vivid colors of the pink spinel and green grossular garnet — untreated, straight out of the ground. And that’s how the ANZA PURE collection of rough-gem jewelry was born.
If you want to pivot to video, you can see and hear me talking very excitedly about this collection in 2018.
Anyway, the most important thing right now is that if you win the ANZA Gems giveaway, you’ll be able to choose your own ANZA PURE X Wendy Brandes piece. Maybe this necklace? I personally love DayGlo pink!
Shoot your shot! I’m rooting for you!