A new limited edition “Freedom of Expression” medallion from luxury jeweler Foundrae will directly benefit free speech and the protection of journalists. Crafted in combination with award-winning novelist and essayist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, all proceeds from the sale of the $3,950 pendant will benefit PEN America. We were invited to the gala celebration to launch this wonderful collaboration. Here are the highlights. #freedomofexpression
chimamanda ngozi adichie and foundrae celebrate freedom and PEN America
a trio of brilliant players
A combination of literature, design and advocacy can only result in something brilliant. In a unique and inspiring collaboration, an influential trio has come together for a cause dear to many people’s hearts.
First, celebrated writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, and We Should All Be Feminists.
Second, Foundrae, which was created in by Beth Bugdaycay, the former CEO of apparel brand Rebecca Taylor, and her husband Murat. The artisanal luxury jewelry line is centered on the use of symbols that carry ancient meanings. As a result, each piece can tell your story with the medallions you choose. The necklaces and rings can become modern heirlooms. Each piece can be personalized and customized in the Foundrae store’s subterranean workshop.
And finally, PEN America, a leading champion of the freedom to write and the vital need to protect and advocate for journalists and authors. Free speech and freedom of expression are its core values. Its mission is, in part, to amplify marginalized voices around the world.
a visit to foundrae new york
We were invited to be part of the festivities as the partnership between these three came to full fruition. On a sapphire night in Manhattan, in the light of a crescent moon, we ducked into Foundrae’s charming retail store in Tribeca.
Appropriately, we were greeted by images of strong women and literature.
A brigade of energetic and confident young women had volunteered as coat-checkers for the event, and they reverently gave us a claim ticket and disappeared into the crowd with our overcoat. Leaving us free to people-watch and explore the jewelry surrounding us.
a lovely space with dazzling jewelry
The store is gracious and welcoming, as is its founder, Beth Bugdaycay. We were quickly immersed in the artistic vibe and the chic decor of the shop.
It’s a space that rewards exploration. For example, the shelves that line the room are filled with hidden treasures. Literally.
In addition, there are adorable, whimsical vignettes everywhere.
One wall at the store is filled with quotes that nod to the symbols that Beth and her team employ in their craft.
Another holds eye-catching contemporary art.
But as with so many New York events, the most fun was being in an electric group of attendees. The celebratory (and chic) crowd reflected the rich diversity of the people touched by the work of PEN America, Foundrae and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
a stunning medal of freedom
But what about the main driver of the event? What does the new medallion look like?
Dear reader, even in the context of a space filled with beautiful jewelry, this new medallion is stunner (its the one with the red background, below).
the messages in the medallion
With only 40 being produced, the limited edition 18K yellow gold numbered “Freedom of Expression” medallions contain four key messages, directly from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie herself:
1. The arrow: “Forward, as we must always press on, knowing that the journey of progress is unfinished.”
2. Infinity: “To honor the endlessness of those things we hold dear: Freedom, the dignity of every human.”
3. Fire: “To symbolize that which can embolden and energize, but can also consume.”
4. Crossed arrows: “Live passionately, live knowing how brief our soujourn here is, how we must make it meaningful by how we live, the choices we make, and those we don’t.”
the woman behind the messages
We got to hear from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie directly about the importance of this moment, and the vital role that PEN America plays in the life of writers and journalists all over the globe.
The crowd was rapt as the author described the challenges that freedom of expression face the world over, including increasingly in America.
The medallions will go on sale on May 1, 2019. The retail price is $3,950, and 100% of the retailprofits will be donated to PEN America. The goal is raising $120,000 for the organization. You can learn more about which retailers will be carrying this limited-edition piece on the Foundrae website, here.
To make a direct donation to PEN America, visit their website pen.org/donate.
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