According to Wikipedia, 70.12% of the world's largest diamonds (by carat weight) were found in Africa, 15.46% in South America, 12.28% in Asia, and 2.14% in North America. Some may not agree with this statement, but with the African continent being the largest repository of precious metals and stones, it is hard to understand how those of African descent are not the ones dominating the jewelry industry. In the world of artisanal jewelry, many Black jewelry craftsmen navigate a landscape where their peers are scarce, the risk of skill loss is real, and competition is intense. This blog post presents six ways the Metaverse and Web3 can help artisans surmount these challenges and thrive.
In the early 1920s, Arthur George “Art” Smith was one of few Black students in his Art class. Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against his success, he tapped into a network of mentors early on, including fellow Black jewelry designer, Winifred Mason. Those mentors encouraged him to apply to Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and supported his career as a jewelry designer.
On the continent the situation is even more critical, since many craft traditions involve ‘trade secrets’ that should not be taught to outsiders, but if family members or community members are not interested in learning it, the knowledge may disappear because sharing it with strangers violates tradition.
Second of all, in response to industrialization, many people around the world enjoy handmade objects that are imbued with the accumulated knowledge and cultural values of craftspeople, which offer a softer alternative to the numerous ‘high tech’ items that dominate global consumer culture. Thus, it is also a good opportunity to connect with our African past. The splendor of Black civilizations such as the Egypt are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for new pieces of art based on African jewelry that will resonate with a new audience eager to reconnect with other hegemonic visions alternative to the Eurocentric ones. The system that has been adopted in the world of luxury jewelry today undeniably mirrors the shift towards jewelry as a currency that was seen in early Africa.
Finally, reaching a wider audience without the need for a large marketing budget is also possible today. Metaverse branding and Onchain marketing could do miracles for emerging jewelry designers. Web3 is no longer about followers but about community and enthusiasts that will promote your work if you allow them to have part of the shares. Global reach and recognition are still possible for the Black jewelry designer community with the aid of Tokenomics and Metaverse. Would you like to know how could that be materialized?