This time last year, we wrote about what it was like to fundraise as two women for a jewellery business. We shared our horror stories with you, and there were quite a few. Most were around how a women-led jewellery brand was seen as a frivolous side project rather than a credible business by some male investors.
We started thinking about why that really is. And as proud history nerds, we suspect it has something to do with the past.
Jewellery is as old as time. The earliest pieces of ‘art’ discovered are jewellery. Twisted torques, crude bone pendants, beads in caves.
But jewellery is, and always has been, a many-faceted beast (pun very much intended). There’s the beautiful, artistic side. And there’s the power and control. Traditionally, when men give jewellery it shows off how much power and money they have – but when women buy it, it’s frivolous.
Take Marie Antoinette and the diamond necklace affair. Even though she had nothing to do with a plot to defraud a Parisian jeweller, sneaky courtiers pinned the whole thing on the spoilt, deceitful queen. The affair contributed to her wrecked reputation more than her love of cake did.
Then, a revolution happened (and we don’t mean the French one). The one where instead of waiting to be given jewellery, women are buying it for themselves.
That may not seem significant to those of us under the age of fifty. But until the very recent past, jewellery was a gift. From Louis XIV to De Beers, it was men doing the buying (and general controlling of finances). Most women either didn’t work, or were paid dramatically less than men. So they didn’t have the cash.
That hasn’t vanished overnight, but there’s been a definite shift. Women are buying themselves more jewellery than ever, and jewellery design has changed as a direct consequence. They can choose something they like, rather than accepting what’s been gifted. And it’s no longer about the value jewellery will have if it needs to be sold for cold, hard cash in a pinch.
Now, women can buy themselves something simply because they like how it looks and makes them feel.
We’ve come a long way, and it’s clear now that the little, frivolous things are important after all. We’re proud to be a part of the shift, no matter how many eye rolls we might have gotten in those early days.
Thanks for your help making it happen.
Vive la Revolution!
Cecily and Ilana
Co-Founders of Motley