The AWIMA Jewellery Project aims to create a transparent, responsibly sourced, profitable, continental jewellery value chain that economically empowers African women in the gemstone and jewellery industry.

LADY AYA a symbol of solidarity to unify and pay tribute to African women in the mining sector.

The Association of Women in Mining in Africa (AWIMA) through the Lady AYA brooch honours African women across the jewellery chain. 

This brooch represents the beauty, sweat, labour and strength of women and particularly artisanal miners and their contribution to the global luxury jewellery industry. Lady AYA was created with dazzling gemstones and brilliant gold sourced and mined by African Women. Lady AYA is made from gold sourced from a female inclusive cooperative in Madagascar; gemstones from Mkuki Gems a female-owned lapidarist in Kenya and manufactured by Vatosoa – a female manufacturer in Madagascar.

Of the 40 million artisanal miners around the world, 40% are women. AWIMA’s ambition is to create a value chain that harnesses the strength of women artisanal miners, amplified with the precision of female gem cutters and finessed by the prowess of female jewellery designers. 

Lady AYA represents the potential for an Africana female-led jewellery enterprise that competes in the global fine jewellery market. The jewellery making process from the sourcing and production right through to the marketing and sales can be a reality and opportunity for women entrepreneurs at any point in that value chain.

In January 2021, AWIMA hosted a design competition inviting African female creatives to submit a brooch design that honours the theme “a symbol of solidarity to unify and pay tribute to African women in the mining sector”. The winner of the competition was Lady AYA by Ngone Sagna (Senegalese jeweller based in Paris). Lady AYA is a personified representation of the African mining motherland. It is an ode to the ground of the continent, rich in minerals, its turbaned headdress is artfully knotted with a luminous front. AYA is the lady and fairy of mines. Armed with courage, she fairy contemplates with respect and pride the sweat, strength, resilience and fruits of women’s labour.

Lady AYA:

  • chrysocolla, lucky charm
  • onyx: protection
  • sapphire: dynamism
  • cornaline: energy, vitality
  • ruby: courage and perseverance
  • malachite: self-confidence
  • tanzanite: creativity, curiosity
  • tsavorite: relational harmony, sense of unity
  • scapolite: self-discipline, independence.

The AWIMA Jewellery Project is made possible through funding from the World Bank’s Extractives Global Programmatic Support (EGPS) Trust Fund and is delivered in partnership with Levin Sources.

Jewellery Design Competition 2021

Introduction

Female jewellers designers, artists, and creatives in Africa and the diaspora are invited to submit a brooch design that honours the theme “a symbol of solidarity to unify and pay tribute to African women in the mining sector”.

PRIZE

$3500 for the judges’ selection and $500 for the popular vote.

The winner will have the opportunity to work in partnership with AWIMA to oversee the production of their design, using responsibly sourced metals and gems from women owned mine sites where possible.  The production of the various stages of the winning design from sourcing materials, to cutting, mounting will be developed into training materials that will be disseminated widely.

ELIGIBILITY

This competition is open to all emerging and established  female designers, jewellers, creatives and artists with African nationality.

Eligible work must be designed for the purpose of the AWIMA Jewellery Design Competition. All work submitted is judged by an expert panel. Multiple entries are welcome.

DESIGN BRIEF

Applicants  should submit a brooch design with design elements that celebrate inspirational women, evoke pride and feature symbols of strength and resilience. The brooch should be designed for consumers who care about supporting women – allowing them to express their commitment and support to women in mining.

  • Theme: a symbol of solidarity to unify and pay tribute to African women in the mining sector
  • Jewellery: brooch convertible into a pendant made only with gold and coloured gemstone(s)
  • Presentation: hand drawing or using software
  • Multi-view projection: front, right, left, top, bottom, and back
  • Technical aspects: colour of the alloy, size and colour of the stone are to be detailed. Each removable piece – if existing – is to be presented in all its variations.
Judges

Judges

Meet our judges for the 2021 Jewellery Design Competition; seasoned jewellers from around the African continent with years of experience in the art and business of jewellery.

Amina Egwuatu
Creative Director - Mina Stones

Amina is a GIA certified Gemmologist and the Creative Director of gemstone and jewellery brand, Mina Stones. She is actively involved in projects that aim to develop the gemstone industry as well as improve the livelihoods of people along the value chain. She is the co-founder of the African Gemstone and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES). Amina has been featured in local and international media including GIA Educational magazine, Guardian, Financial Times and ICA InColor magazine.

Labi Kapo
CEO - Akapo Jewels

Labi Kapo is a Master Goldsmith (Diamond Mounter) who learned his craft in London - one of the first Africans to work in the UK jewellery industry. He boasts 44 years’ experience in the jewellery industry at bespoke level of manufacturing and clientele. An Entrepreneur and CEO leading Akapo Jewels (Pty) Ltd in South Africa for 18 years. The company that Labi heads (Akapo Jewels) is an accredited training and services provider for ten years as well as an ISO 9001 certificated company that offers specialised training to the youth of the continent of Africa and internationally. A specialist in Platinum techniques and antique jewellery as well as rare artefacts.

Natacha Metayer
Founder - JNCY Jewellers

Natacha established JNCY Jewellers in June of 2019 while working her corporate job. Since that time she has become a full-time jeweller and has pursued her GIA certification. Natacha is currently a certified jewellery professional and is actively pursuing her certification to be a graduate gemmologist. Since beginning her career in 2019, she has been featured in British Luxury magazine Tatler and her local black-owned newspaper Miami New Times. JNCY Jewelers is a luxury jewellery brand, made for modern women, inspired and created by, Natacha Metayer.

Top 10 Designs

Top 10 Designs

Winning Design - Lady AYA

Winning Design - Lady AYA

Inspiration

Inspired by Moorish brooches, Lady AYA is a personified representation of the African mining motherland. It is an ode to the ground of the continent, rich in minerals, its turbaned headdress is artfully knotted and set with a yellow sapphire – a luminous front. AYA is the lady and fairy of mines. She never goes without her jewellery. In particular, white gold Adinkra earrings, an ancestral sign of her endurance and resourcefulness. She has all the qualities to succeed in her mission. Armed with courage, the mine fairy contemplates with respect and pride the fruit of community of labour.

Winning Design

SYMBOLISM

Abundance and unity: the voluminous headdress full of gold and various gemstones, represents the wealth of African mineral resources.

Dignity: Queen of the miners, the feminine character of the brooch carries her pickaxe like an Egyptian sceptre.

Resilience: Adinkra symbol AYA “fern” is a symbol of endurance and resourcefulness, the fern is a hardy plant that can grow in difficult places.

Courageous and strong: Adinkra symbol of courage set with Tanzanite.

As a gem ready for manufacture, the diamond cut on the Lady's hand is a way to link miners to jewellers.

The gemstones are chosen for their symbolism, origin and their diversity.  Contrasting with the gold, they also bring harmony and color to the design like African way of life.

CHARACTER OF THE FAIRY

Aquamarine: Purity, lucky charm
Black tourmaline: protection
Sapphire: dynamism
Cornaline: energy, vitality 
Ruby: courage and perseverance
Malachite: self confidence
Tanzanite: creativity, curiosity
Tsavorite or Emerald: relational harmony, sense of unity
Citrine or Scapolite: self-discipline, independence

The Journey of Lady AYA

The Journey of Lady AYA

Lady AYA will be made of gold and gemstones sourced from women miners across the continent and manufactured by women. Stay tuned to hear about the journey of production to auction.

Lady AYA Training Manuals