How Jewelry Is Helping Give Afghan Women A Voice

Photographed by Tierney Gearon.
In 2016 fast fashion prevails; gender inequality is rife in the industry, and leading brands are constantly under fire for producing their collections in unsatisfactory conditions. If these are problems that regularly come to mind when you make purchases, then designer Pippa Small's ethically minded jewelry collection, Turquoise Mountain, should be on your shopping list.
During the Taliban regime (from 1996 until 2001) jewelry making was reportedly banned in Afghanistan, meaning that by the time the Taliban was overthrown, the majority of the country's traditional artisans had fled or were no longer practicing their craft.

Turquoise Mountain
— "an internationally accredited vocational institute training a new generation of Afghan artisans in woodwork, calligraphy and miniature painting, ceramics, jewelry, and gem-cutting," according to its website — was subsequently established in 2006 under the direction of Prince Charles and the former President of Afghanistan in order to reintroduce these skills and offer jobs to young people in a country with a bleak future, ripped apart by the regime.
Small, who has been working with the organization since 2008, has finally joined forces for a Kabul-based diffusion line that channels classic Afghan designs, and whose proceeds are made to help create and sustain jobs within the country's jewelry-making industry — and she's tapped Gurls Talk founder, model, and feminist Adwoa Aboah as its ambassador.
"When I was approached to be [the face of] Pippa Small's Turquoise Mountain [collection], I didn’t even need to think about it before accepting," Adwoa tells Refinery29. "It’s incredible what Turquoise Mountain is doing in Afghanistan — not only does it help create jobs, boost the economy, and promote the arts, but it is empowering women, a cause very close to my own heart through my Gurls Talk initiative. In a world where we are still struggling for gender equality, it is awe-inspiring to see the work that Pippa Small and Turquoise Mountain are doing to combat the gender divide in Afghanistan, by encouraging women to enter the workshop and earn for themselves — all while crafting a truly beautiful collection of jewelry."

Small opens up ahead with images from the collection and the remarkable story behind it.

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