The Artisans Behind Our Fair Trade Jewelry

Designing Fair Trade Jewelry by Mata Traders

Hi there! Miranda here. I work on jewelry design at Mata Traders, and I recently traveled to visit with the artisan cooperatives we partner with in India and Nepal. Every trip to visit our producers feels special, but this one was particularly meaningful since it was my first as a design lead for our jewelry team.

Fair Trade Jewelry Designed by Artisans in India and Nepal

In the fashion industry, we normally work a year or more in advance. This means we designers must anxiously await the most exciting part: customer reception of our work! I’m thrilled to highlight the artisans’ production of our newly launched Summer 2019 Collection –  it really showcases some of their best work yet!

On this trip I had a chance to visit our three biggest jewelry workshops. One specializes in bone, one in brass work and electroplating, and one in hand beading and crocheting. They are all unique and bring different techniques and aesthetic to our design.

The group that works with upcycled bone made the Moonchild Necklace, Have your Cake Necklace and Earrings, and the Oblique Triangle Necklace and Earrings. Each bone piece is handcrafted by creating a unique die pattern to cut the design and then carving through the bone and finishing with small hand tools. The photos below are of NaseemJi with components from the Moonchild Necklace (you might remember seeing Naseem + Nasima, founders of the group, in our video Upcycling Bone, Transforming Lives).

Upcycled Bone Fair Trade Jewelry Design

The other two cooperatives, one working with beading and the other with brass elements, collaborate effortlessly after years of working together. Would you ever guess that our Beaded Canvas Earrings and Petit Tassel Necklace were created in small villages dozens of miles apart? It is amazing to me that despite the distance, they’re able to create components that work so well together in one piece. It’s truly a communal effort.

Ethically Made Jewelry

While I've met the bone and brass groups on prior trips, this was my first time visiting with the beading and crochet group in person, an amazing team that is entirely composed of and led by women. Gender norms in their small, traditional community restrict women and girls to the home, and few get the option to work or go to school. The creation of this workshop has made a big difference here. With a source of income and the camaraderie they’ve built together, the women have found solidarity, independence and empowerment. They’re change makers in their community, setting the example for the next generation of female artisans! Through their work, they are slowly beginning to change the mindset of the people in their village.

Mata Traders Fair Trade Jewelry Artisans

The group’s leader Mosmeen told me that “Work gives us courage.” It’s funny how much this sentiment reflects my own: Their work gives me courage as a designer to continuously strive to create best-selling jewelry. As a fair trade family, we all work together to create these beautiful things. We can only hope our customers adore wearing our jewelry as much as we enjoy designing and producing it!