The designer’s new jewelry label, Diamonds Unleashed, seeks to empower women.
This evening, jewelry designer and philanthropist, Kara Ross, is speaking at Georgetown University’s “Women Disrupting Business as Usual” panel to discuss Diamonds Unleashed, her brand with a social mission. Diamonds Unleashed is challenging the traditional symbolism of diamonds, how they are sourced, bought and given, and serving as a platform to support women empowerment. Her collections are displayed at Neiman Marcus, Kara Ross NY and HSN, with 100% all proceeds going to organizations including She’s the First and Girls Who Code to empower young girls to become the next generation of future women leaders. Michelle Obama has worn a number of pieces from Kara Ross’ collections, and some of Diamonds Unleashed’s brand advocates include Martha Stewart, Serena Williams, Paula Abdul and Norma Kamali (plus hundreds more). Though Diamonds Unleashed just launched in December 2015, it is already making waves and starting a serious conversation about the positive impact that can be had when a brand adopts a mission. Washington Life had the chance to interview Kara Ross before her Georgetown appearance.
1. To start, what led you to link diamonds with the message of women empowerment?
The whole idea started when I reset my own diamond in a very unusual setting. I started to wear it on my right hand, and it really got me thinking about diamonds; how people perceive them, how women are given them, and the symbol that they have become. It’s such an outdated and antiquated notion that women should have to WAIT to be given a diamond. The diamond should symbolize women’s strength, independence, and solidarity. All of the adjectives that describe a diamond are PERFECT as well when describing women: multi-faceted, brilliant, strong, unbreakable.
2. What do you think diamonds should symbolize for women? What needs to change about the tradition of receiving diamonds as gifts from men?
I believe that diamonds should symbolize women’s strength and independence. The core focus of DIAMONDS UNLEASHED is to create the universal symbol for women’s empowerment. My goal is to have it become ubiquitous just like the piece sign or breast cancer ribbon. The symbol is two diamonds, one elevating outside the other, those two shapes together form a heart. The heart symbolizes the unifying philanthropic power of women helping women, to help create the next generation of strong female leaders. DU also has an engagement ring component, as you know most diamonds are associated with love and marriage. I have nothing against that, but wanted to take it a step further and re-think the act of engagement. Our new engagement ring line has a scholarship give-back associated with each ring. Now a couple can “ENGAGE IN EDUCATION”, help young woman and do good with their diamond.
3. What qualities do you look for in potential brand ambassadors? How would you describe the true “Diamonds Unleashed Woman?”
DU currently has 400+ ambassadors, otherwise known as “Stilettos on the Ground”. These women are rock stars throughout fashion, finance, philanthropy, sports-every industry. We look for brilliant, strong and multifaceted women that can help extend our message. Every ambassador is a “girl’s girl”, meaning they want to be involved and help our movement grow, also to shine spotlight on important women’s issues and education. The “DIAMONDS UNLEASHED” woman is strong and not afraid to go after her goals and dreams. She aims high, takes risks and is unstoppable.
4. Do you feel that there is a deficiency of women empowerment in the fashion industry? If so, how can it be addressed?
I have always been extremely lucky to be surrounded by amazing strong women throughout my career. I feel that women need to lift each other up, instead of bringing each other down. The fashion industry and every industry in general needs a change in outlook to help create the next generation of strong women. This can be addressed by taking ACTION. Lend your time to help mentor a young woman, give advice and guidance —it’s so important to encourage one another.
5. How can we keep this message relevant? Is it important to wear our beliefs?
Women are in a very powerful place right now, controlling the household spending and making progress, but not anywhere near we should be. I find it extremely important to empower the future generation of leaders, and the best way to do that is through education. Empowering a young women and giving her an education along with mentorship can change her entire life, her community and her future. After a very successful career in the jewelry & fashion industry, I want to give make and really move the needle.
6. Finally, what do you think makes Washington, D.C. a great market for your product?
Washington DC was a no-brainer for me. As a fellow HOYA, and Georgetown alum/board member, I knew that the message of empowerment would resonate in this market. Women in DC are in a very powerful place, especially in business and politics. What better setting than Georgetown University, especially extending the conversation on education and creating the next generation of strong female leaders.