The celebrity jeweler and NDC announced the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative Monday, with $1 million of diamond credit dedicated to supporting emerging BIPOC jewelry creators
Lorraine Schwartz
Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Lorraine Schwartz is the woman behind some of the most memorable celebrity jewelry moments ever — including Angelina Jolie's 115-carat emerald drop earrings at the 2009 Oscars, Beyoncé's $5 million engagement ring from husband Jay Z and Blake Lively's custom halo with over 100-carats of champagne diamonds at the 2018 Met Gala — and now, she's lending her expertise to up-and-coming talent through the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative in partnership with the Natural Diamond Council (NDC).

Announced on Monday, the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative will launch later this month with $1 million of diamond credit committed to supporting emerging BIPOC jewelry designers.

The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative aims to help a diverse group of designers establish their own businesses and provided guidance on the process of diamond financing. Schwartz and the NDC will offer a $20,000 credit to each designer and stand as a guarantor with the diamond suppliers. Once credit and relationships are established, the designers will have access to diamonds from Lorraine Schwartz and NDC's partners along with their vast networks and resources. Applications are being accepted now.

Natural Diamond Council
Credit: Alelli Tanghal (@alelli)

"The program will promote inclusivity with a goal to serve as many BIPOC designers, with an interest in furthering their diamond jewelry business, as possible," a press release states.

Fashion industry heavyweights including NDC CEO David Kellie, Vanity Fair Fashion Director Nicole Chapoteau and celebrity stylist Jason ​Rembert, will serve on a committee that reviews and approves "designer applications until the $1 million diamond credit runs out" alongside Schwartz. Pharrell Williams, Kelly Rowland and Tina Knowles will act as honorary advisors.

"The initiative's objective is to advance inclusivity within the fine jewelry industry and therefore it was important to underline that applications will be reviewed on an open and rolling basis," NDC shared in a statement.

Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE, Schwartz says she "looked inward" and knew she "wanted to help expand representation in the industry" — especially now, amid social unrest, racial justice protests and the devastating effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"I reached out to the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) because I knew with our combined resources we could do some good and really help our industry become inclusive and supportive to a more diverse group of jewelers," she says. "The NDC is a great educational resource in the diamond community and together I knew we could create a program that not only educates and mentors underrepresented designers, but offers unparalleled access to the credit needed to succeed." 

The renowned jewelry designer adds that she's most looking forward to "discovering new designers and trendsetters and opening doors for people that may otherwise be closed."

"Although there is a level of diversity within the industry, there are certain groups that need additional recognition," she continues. "Our hope is that this initiative will lead to larger conversations within the industry and ultimately help in uncovering some special gems."

Schwartz also opened up about what trends emerged during the pandemic, sharing that unique engagement rings are becoming increasingly popular.

"Clients are inquiring more and more about rare stones and atypical diamond cuts, like portrait cut and rose cut," she says. "We offer a personalized experience that is unmatched, and beautiful and unique stones are just another layer of that experience."

And looking ahead to 2021, the designer is optimistic that head-turning jewels will reign supreme. "I predict a lot of bling and sparkle on the red-carpet post-pandemic — everyone will be itching to show off their biggest and boldest," she says, adding "I foresee statement pieces, bright colors, and of course, diamonds, being very popular."