Jewelers That Care will honor four jewelers who have proven themselves as leaders in the industry for giving back to the global and local communities. New York expert jeweler and goldsmith Donna Distefano was awarded. Donna Distefano’s commitment to ethical sourcing began in 1994 when she first introduced recycled precious metal into her eponymous jewelry line. Described by National Jeweler as “the Manhattan-based jewelry design company known for its commitment to environmentally sensitive sourcing,” Donna Distefano was named “Best of New York” by New York Magazine for 2010. Since 2008, she has expanded her use of fair trade gemstones and published full disclosure protocols about gemstone sourcing on her website.

Donna DiStefano Working
Fair Trade Jeweler Donna DiStefano

The mission of Donna Distefano Ltd. is to create beautiful treasures that mark the events of a lifetime while respecting the earth and its population. Donna Distefano combines beautiful sustainable precious metals with fair trade gemstones and conflict free diamonds to create an unforgettable, inherently glamorous story told by the hands of a true goldsmith. We also work with customers to makeover jewelry from pieces they already own. Attention to detail, excellent craftsmanship, and a consistent high level of personalized service are the foundations of the company.

Stephanie March, on Donna Distefano jewelry : “How many things in the world are as good for people as they are beautiful? Give beauty, glamour, AND safety all in one tiny, precious piece. Now that is a great gift!”

Recycled Precious Metal

Donna Distefano Ltd has been committed to using recycled precious metal for more than 15 years. Always looking for ways to minimize the impact of goldsmithing on the planet, Distefano chooses to use pure gold supplied by refiners rather than miners, then creates custom high-karat gold alloys herself. “Mining creates literally tons of environmental waste,” says Distefano. “There is plenty of gold already in circulation, and by using recycled gold we can diminish our impact on the environment just a little bit more.”

She began incorporating charitable donations as a core value of her business back in 1996 by designing and marketing a rosary called “Truth” for God’s Love We Deliver, an organization dedicated to providing meals for clients with life-altering illnesses. Over the past five years, Distefano has increased the reach of her “Giving Back” program by hosting events for Women for Women International, the Environmental Defense Fund, and most recently, OneKid OneWorld. By donating jewelry for fundraisers, hosting events in her New York City atelier, and pledging a percentage of profits from the sale of dedicated designs, Distefano has raised awareness and aid for those who need it most. Among the many charities she has supported are Sanctuary for Families, Music Cares, the American Italian Cancer Foundation, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Her understanding and willingness to inform others on fair trade issues has taken Donna Distefano to some exciting arenas. In 2010, she hosted a group of political science graduate students from Rutgers University to discuss the implications of global trade. Students were enlightened to learn the significant differences between rubies mined in Malawi compared with rubies mined in Burma. So similar in appearance, different gemstones mined under different conditions either fuel human rights violations, or a present new economic hope for an impoverished region.Before establishing her private atelier, Distefano was the senior goldsmith for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, responsible for creating the museum's jewelry reproductions. After a year of studying art history and culture in Rome, Distefano returned to her native New York to launch her namesake company where she is the sole designer and president. With ancestral roots in Italy and citizenship in both Italy and the United States, Distefano brings the rich tradition of the court jeweler to the modern luxury marketplace while respecting the earth and its population.

Always looking for new avenues to convey her message about the importance of fair trade, in 2011, Distefano turned to an unlikely audience: the online gaming community. By donating a 90-carat garnet drusy mined by hand from the Ural Mountains for a give-away in conjunction with the launch of a new action heroine, Distefano aligned herself with one of the first Latina gaming characters and gained access to an audience of millions of young people who will be the jewelry consumers of tomorrow. The “Aluna” necklace is significant for its rarity and because it is the source of power for the fictional heroine who wears it currently in comic books and video games. With popularity and promise, Aluna has the potential to bring fair trade to the front of future discussions about jewelry.

Donna Distefano’s ongoing generosity and talent has prominent personalities taking notice. As an advisory board member of the international outreach charity OneKid OneWorld, actress Stephanie March (Law & Order: SVU) has this to say about Donna Distefano: “”How many things in the world are as good for people as they are beautiful? Donna Distefano creates beauty, glamour, AND safety in each precious piece.”

And no one can forget the demonstrative depiction of Distefano’s artistry by legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry who describes Donna Distefano jewelry as “Rock and roll jewelry at its finest.”

Fair Trade Gemstone Protocol:

All jewelry made by Donna Distefano Ltd is handcrafted in our New York City atelier using recycled precious metal; however, we buy gemstones from vendors who import from all over the world. In 2008, Donna Distefano Ltd launched a fair trade initiative to provide information to our clients.  In order to assure that our jewelry is free from environmental destruction and human rights violations, we have developed the following fair trade protocols to accurately describe the gemstones in Donna Distefano jewelry.

Level A: These are natural and untreated gemstones purchased from a fair trade vendor who tracks the gem material from the mine to the cutting factory. Level A gemstones are accompanied by written verification of their country of origin and are mined and cut by fairly compensated workers with great consideration given to the environmental impact of mining and gem cutting.

Level B: These are natural gemstones that can be traced to the country of origin. Our vendors have written agreements in place that require fair labor practices in the gem cutting facilities where these gemstones are polished and faceted.

Level C: These are natural gemstones procured from reputable vendors who follow fair trade guidelines, but do not provide written verification of fair trade protocols. Any enhancements to the gemstones are fully disclosed.

Level D: These are gemstones that have been in the Donna Distefano inventory prior to 2008. While many may be fair trade, we are unable to verify the chain of custody for gemstones procured before establishing our fair trade initiative.

Honored and awed by this recognition from Jewelers That Care, Donna Distefano will continue expanding her fair trade offerings and giving back programs with the hope that other jewelers will follow. Together, we can change the way America buys jewelry.

The Donna Distefano Jewelry Atelier is located at 37 West 20th St, Suite 1106 between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City. For more information, contact Judy Ann Olsen  212.594.3757.

%d bloggers like this: