Featured piece: an interview with Yvette Parker, the Creative Director of Empowered Mineral Designs. Read on as we inquire into her experience in gemstone curating, design inspiration, and the spirit behind EMD, a U.S. based luxury jewelry brand called Empowerment Mineral Designs. Their creations incorporate the natural beauty of precious stones and gems in a socially conscious way. Pierotucci, being an artisan leather company, greatly values other companies who put the same amount of craftsmanship, care, and pride in their products. Images throughout the interview represent Yvette’s “wish list” personal favorites.
A special thanks to EMD, who is offering a special Event Discount to all our readers. Visit their website to check out Bracelets and Bridge Jewelry for a 15% off. Shopping code is: BLOG
PT: Empowerment Mineral Designs is for the Affluent and Influential woman. Could you describe that type of woman to us?
A woman of “affluence and influence” is the Empowerment Mineral Designs’ core customer. She is independent-minded, driven and knows what she wants and can afford whatever she wants. Our core customer is a top executive, socialite or CEO and she is fashionable. Empowerment Mineral Designs appeal to her because it is jewelry she buys for herself for her pleasure.
Wish List 2 is described as a Lapis Lazuli cuff with a rose-cut White Topaz and white Diamond charm, however at the moment no picture is available.
PT: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My first job was an internship at a public policy journal. My second job was at a company I launched at age 19 that provided wardrobe coordination (now known as personal shopping and fashion styling) and model brokering (essentially scouting talent for the top 6 modeling agencies in New York City at the time). The entrepreneurial roots run deeply with me. I am rather fearless. I discerned the need for a stylist and personal shopper after reading an article in W (at the time it was a newspaper). A busy socialite, Nancy Kissinger, was schlepping Henry Kissinger’s son around town to purchase his wardrobe for university. I realized other busy women would relish not having to do those tasks, so I and a colleague undertook them. I subsequently launched a global management consulting firm.
PT: You have worked as a curatorial consultant for the Smithsonian Institution as well as private art collectors. Does this influence Empowerment Mineral Designs in any way?
Yes, but not in the way you may think. I was the business end of the curatorial consulting business and my late partner was the art officianado. The influence from that experience that I bring to Empowerment Mineral Designs is negotiation with suppliers and retailers; production time-lines are so much easier having been through countless art exhibition mountings and problem-solving. Many of our private art collectors required valuations, logistical or acquisition challenges. Our most notable private client, Ms. Oprah Winfrey, had each of the three challenges and we were able to solve them.
PT: Please explain what socially conscious jewelry is?
Empowerment Mineral Designs was launched in 2003 with a Fair Trade mandate. It remains important to me that everyone who contributes to our jewelry lines has safe working conditions, a decent living wage and is not exploited. We work with suppliers who certify the conditions of the workers of the companies they trade with as they are on-site and see the conditions for themselves. We use only conflict-free diamonds, as well. I delayed designing with diamonds until reputable sources and supplies could be established. Empowerment Mineral Designs was recognized in 2004 by The Center for Positive Practices because of our socially conscious policies.
PT: You have created a simplistic raw approach to jewelry design which allows a woman to wear something that really speaks about her personality. That being said, will we be seeing any types of engagement rings with the same theme?
Empowerment Mineral Designs has created a few signature elements that influence our jewelry style and differentiate our lines from other jewelers. We incorporate many raw (unpolished and unshapen) gemstones – Diamonds, Sapphires and other colored stones are prominent in each collection. Another signature, unique to our line, is gemstone weaving with precious metal wire. I have studied design and minerals extensively, however, I and my production team are not metalsmiths, which ring design would require. However, there are other jewelers who design rings of all sorts that feature raw Diamonds.
PT: Tell us a bit about the types of gem and precious stones you use in your creations. Do you have any particular one that tends to be re-current in your designs?
Empowerment Mineral Designs incorporate exotic gemstones. A woman may have a preference for the color aqua and believe that Turquoise is her only choice. However, we can show her several gemstones in that natural color – Turquoise, Cuprite, Agate, Aquamarine, Hemimorphite, Apatite etc. Vascerite, Charoite, Hypersthene, Rhodonite are a few rare minerals we have used to design beautiful jewelry. Diamonds and Pearls are in the majority of our collections.
PT: You use a lot of raw gemstones in your creations. Does the unrefined form of the gemstones explain the low price? (ex. 2036-nck has 2 kt raw black diamonds mixed with a pearl for only $950).
Actually, our prices are commensurate with the U.S. jewelry market.
PT: Please explain some of the unusual material terms used to describe your jewelry – such as “shell” pearl and “gold-filled”.
A South Sea or Tahitian shell Pearl is an actual South Sea or Tahitian Pearl but the nacre (outer coating of a pearl) is thinner or a shell compared to other types of pearls. These pearls offer tremendous value because you have the richness of the more exotic pearls without the $30,000 price tag.
Gold-filled is a U.S. government label for karat gold metal that has a permanent bond equal to 1/20th of the karat. Unlike plated metals, gold-filled bonds never wear off and thus only karat gold touches the skin. A caution about precious metals – they are porous and as such absorb chemicals. Never wipe gold or silver with alcohol or spray with perfume. Always keep perfumes, styling products and make-up away from pearls.
PT Your designs are amazing, but we would love to have your insight as to how to wear them. Could you give us a suggestion for dressing up a casual outfit? Also which would be dazzling on a dressy night out?
Thank you, I appreciate the compliment. As a designer and merchandiser, I am unceasingly amazed at the difference in wardrobe style between the U.S. east and west coasts. West coast ladies will wear any item of jewelry with any item in their wardrobe and they never hesitate to mix jewelry styles and metals. East coast ladies are more restrained in their jewelry and wardrobe pairings. The Golden South Sea shell Pearl rope would be worn with an outfit that is tailored or dressy by an east coast lady. However, a west coast lady would wear the same necklace with jeans and a white cotton shirt and would likely layer the necklace with other smaller profile necklaces.
A common misconception is that larger profile necklaces and earrings can only be worn by women who are 6 feet tall and diminutive designs can only be worn by petite ladies. Our bib necklaces are worn very elegantly by petite ladies who may reach 5’3″ on their tip toes. EMD earrings and necklaces are designed to be worn and not weigh down the wearer. Our earrings are lightweight despite their profile and our necklaces are lightweight as well. Wear whatever jewelry attracts your eye with whatever is in your wardrobe.
PT: At Pierotucci we are embarking on our very first charity project to aid the survivors of the March 2011 Japanese tsunami. We would like to hear about what kind of charity work Empowerment Mineral Designs has done. What kind of charities have you contributed to and why?
Charitable partnerships have been our mainstay since our launch. Empowerment Mineral Designs supports a variety of arts & culture, community and environmental organizations every year through our Empowered Philanthropy program. Currently – as in now – we have a custom-designed item in an auction in the Hamptons to support a children’s charity – Art For Life. Over the years we have partnered with the AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati, Global Green, Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, etc.
Empowerment Mineral Designs has a retail philanthropy division that hosts online shopping events for charities that come to us for fund-raising support. Each exclusive online event donates 20% of the total event purchases to the partnering charity. Since 2003, Empowerment Mineral Designs has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities and we are working to increase our fund-raising efforts each year. U.S. nonprofit development officers are welcome to contact Empowerment Mineral Designs for assistance with their annual capital campaigns.