It was the humble hope of Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons, owners of the Simmons Jewelry Co., that they could join in and make a difference in helping Africans empower themselves. In this hope was the genesis of the idea for the Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) as a way to make a positive difference for Africa.
In fall 2006, while completing a fact-finding mission to southern Africa to see firsthand how diamonds are empowering Africans in Botswana and South Africa, Russell and his delegation witnessed concrete examples of how the diamond industry directly enhances sustainable economic development and contributes to the overall self-empowerment of African people and communities. They first chose those places in Africa where there are stable democratic governments and the kind of government-private sector joint ventures that have a factual and transparent track record of improving the quality of life.
When the delegation arrived back in the United States, they reported the findings of fact and announced the establishment of D.E.F. to support education initiatives in Africa. At the same time, the Simmons Jewelry Company launched the Green Initiative™ collection of jewelry to raise funds for D.E.F. Green is intended to symbolize prosperity, well-being, and care for the planet Earth and its entire people. Importantly, green also represents the continent of Africa; including its natural and human resources. The collection is intended to symbolize and communicate the efforts to empower Africa’s most treasured resource – its youth – through education. Indeed, the malachite and rough-diamond “Green Bracelet” has become the first symbol for D.E.F.
The Green Bracelet as a symbol for D.E.F. and its mission then gained further public awareness through advertising campaigns featuring Kimora Lee Simmons wearing nothing but dozens of Green Bracelets, a series of celebrity events for D.E.F. from Manhattan to Hollywood in the summer and fall of 2007, and features in Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Ebony, Hamptons Magazine, and Hollywood Life.
D.E.F. was launched with Simmons Jewelry Co.’s leading support. Building on this good first step, the vision for D.E.F. is to engage the entire diamond and jewelry industry in raising funds to benefit educational initiatives in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource.