Raven + Lily Fosters Artisan Craftsmanship With Stunning Fair Trade Jewelry

woman shows off fair trade jewelry

Emma Grady / RavenAndLily.com

Sure, we all know to look for fair trade when shopping but sooner or later there comes a point when it loses its personal touch. When Raven and Lily asked me to style one of my favorite jewelry pieces for their Fair Trade Holiday Shopping Guide, I took the opportunity to find out more about the artisans behind the fair trade accessories. I was happy to find that their sustainable and affordable jewelry has a story behind it. From the handmade beads made with artillery shells from former wars to the people whose lives have improved as a result of working with the fair trade brand.

earings made by fair trade workers
Emma Grady / RavenAndLily.com

As an example, these Desta: Antique Dangle Earrings immediately caught my eye for the authentic aesthetic. They are not a pair of mass-produced cookie-cutter earrings but rather each one is slightly different than the next. They also antique over time.

These earrings are made with melted bullet casings and recycled brass, silver, and copper. The earrings boast mini balls that jingle when you sway--appropriate for the holiday, no?

Workers make jewerly for fair trade business
Emma Grady / RavenAndLily.com

Raven and Lily sent me a complimentary pair to style for their look book. I paired it with a vintage Henri Bendel dress that I bought secondhand--for only $10--at a local Housing Works-run thrift store. Housing Works is a community of people affected by HIV/AIDs. Coincidentally, the earrings were made by HIV-positive women in Ethiopia.

handmade bead necklace
Emma Grady / RavenAndLily.com

“I was living in death," remarked one such woman, named Amleset, working on the Entoto collection. "I am changed because of this program and now I am called to help other human beings.” Proceeds from Raven and Lily sales help fund healthcare and literacy programs for the women and children who make their products.

Also from the Ethiopia collection is the Karanga Silver Charm Wrap Bracelet, which can also be worn as a single-strand necklace.

sketchbooks and statue head on bookcase
Emma Grady / RavenAndLily.com

Named after one of the artisans who help make them, the Chartreuse and Silver Tassel Uzma Sketchbook is handmade by women in Northern India with 100% recycled cotton paper and textiles.

Raven + Lily
Emma Grady / RavenAndLily.com

"Here, women can’t do anything so women don’t go out," said Uzma, one of the artisans who work with Raven and Lily. "We have to wear a burka, we have to keep quiet, we have to keep our distance from men. But at the design studio, we can come and go in freedom."

As I previously pointed out in a post featuring Indego Africa's colorful fair trade gifts, it is important to raise awareness about how everyday purchases can benefit communities. To take part, you don't have to buy anything, just tweet the #FairTuesday hashtag.