Aayenda Jewelry is Afghanistan’s first jewelry brand. Award-winning international designers mentor Future Brilliance’s student artisans to produce market-led collections that appeal to international customers. A project of Future Brilliance, it is a ground-breaking social enterprise, building access to markets for Afghan designers and artisans, whilst generating royalties through sales of the jewelry that further benefit artisans through the ongoing provision of support and training.
Aayenda’s goal is to generate sustainable work for thousands of artisans, especially women, whilst improving design, quality and jewelry business skills. The jewelry is made in Afghanistan by members of the Aayenda Jewelry Co-Operative, whose founders are inspiring Afghan women social entrepreneurs.
To date, Aayenda Jewelry has sold successfully at over 40 leading fashion boutiques, such as Nina@FredSegal and Michael Stars in Los Angeles, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen in New York; Smithsonian Museum store in Washington DC, and at retail outlets in Canada, Mexico, UK, EU, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India – and Azerbaijan. The brand is also sold online through fair-trade websites such as Global Goods Partners, Far & Wide Collective, Jewel and Lotus – and at www.aayendajewelry.com.
Aayenda Jewelry orders have provided work for 1200 artisans, including 300 war widows, who hand carve fine lapis and turquoise beads.
The full line features collections designed by Future Brilliance students in collaboration with Anna Ruth Henriques, Paul Spurgeon and Annie Fensterstock. The designers mentored Afghan artisans, giving them individual, hands-on tuition, during the Gemstone Sector Development training program in Jaipur, India, in 2013. The result was Aayenda – jewelry that is the best of East and West – fashionable, marketable and inspired by distinct Afghan artistry,
After the students graduated from their courses, prominent Indian workshops offered them the opportunity of work placements. Two of these workshops kindly produced the masters and molds for Aayenda Jewelry, as well as the first production pieces. The masters and molds were sent back to Afghanistan and since 2014, with increased production capacity as a result of Future Brilliance training courses, the jewelry has been made in Afghanistan. By the winter of 2014, 5 Afghan workshops employing 38 individuals – including family and women-owned operations – were able to produce 770 pieces of Aayenda Jewelry, in just six weeks.
In Spring 2015, with the assistance of Future Brilliance, graduates of our training programs established the Aayenda Jewelry Cooperative. Production orders are now placed with co-operative members who can also apply for grants, training and equipment, funded by royalty payments.
The first grantee was Khala Zainab Zada, a graduate of the Future Brilliance jewelry design and trainer of trainers (TOT) courses delivered in Jaipur in 2013. With her grant, Khala was able to complete construction of a bead-making training workshop in her remote village in Balkh Province. She then used the teacher training skills she acquired from Future Brilliance to train a further 60 local women in bead making.
Khala then shop-fit a retail outlet in Mazar-e-Sharif using royalty funds generated by sales of Aayenda. She now markets her own and her students’ very beautiful, beaded jewelry to local customers at her own boutique.
Other beneficiaries of Aayenda Jewelry sales’ royalties include Jawed Noori of Noor Jewellery in Kabul and Sayed Ayub Sadat of Afghan Zamarud. The artisans, both members of the Aayenda Jewelry Co-operative, received hands-on quality control and marketing training in Delhi and Jaipur in 2016.
Syed Ayub said that he learned so much from this training, that he opened his own workshop in Kabul, up his return, employing 7 people. His business immediately established a reputation for good quality and excellent service, and he has attracted commissions from jewellery brands in Germany, the UK and USA, as well as Aayenda. Having personally benefitted from international market exposure and on-the-job training in India, Sayed Ayub has now asked Future Brilliance to find workshop placements in Jaipur for his most talented employees.
Future Brilliance is breaking new ground with Aayenda. The innovative social enterprise is building sustainable international market linkages for members of the Aayenda Jewelry Co-operative, whilst funding additional benefit through the provision of grants, training and equipment through sales royalties of the jewelry.