Meet the Montgomery native who got a Beyoncé-funded scholarship to diversify the jewelry industry

You might not think of fashion and social justice as related.

Audriana Osbourne may change your mind about that.

The 24-year-old Montgomery, Ala., native is one of three recipients of a more than $20,000 scholarship offered by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and world-renowned jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz to study at the California-based nonprofit Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The program will allow Osborne, who recently graduated from Howard University School of Law, to learn more about the jewelry industry and, eventually, help Black creatives shake up the jewelry world by protecting their intellectual property.

“There would be no humanity in general without Black creatives,” Osborne told Reckon. “I think global culture would look largely different without Black creatives because they typically create from their unique experiences of our culture.”

The scholarship program aims to diversify the jewelry industry’s workforce. According to a recent survey by National Jeweler, which surveys the workforce diversity of jewelry brands, employees gave their employers low marks when it comes to addressing issues of racial justice and equity and having racially diverse staffs.

Both Knowles-Carter and Schwartz said they look forward to working with Osborne and the other two recipients, Shelton Bradford, of Lake Forest, Calif., and Seattle native Kulla Jatani. GIA CEO and President Susan Jacques said in a statement that supporting these creatives is vital for the industry.

“The global gem and jewelry industry is fused together by specialized expertise and diversity of experiences, voices and differing backgrounds,” Jacques said. “All of these help to foster creativity, relevance and ultimately success. Diversity is essential for us to continue to thrive well into the future.”

Osborne’s drive was nurtured by culture, creativity and advocacy while living in one of the cradles of the Civil Rights Movement. She attended an art-focused magnet school where she studied piano, violin and theatre. Her parents are college sweethearts who met at Alabama State University, a Montgomery-based historically Black college and university which produced many of Osbourne’s teachers and held the youth summer programs she attended. The family often attended ASU football games and reveled in the showmanship of the school’s band, the Mighty Marching Hornets.

She followed that HBCU path by attending Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. Considering the multiple episodes of Black trauma that occurred in 2020, she sees HBCUs as vital spaces for Black minds right now.

“Now more than ever, it’s so critical for Black people, and especially our Black youth, to be able to learn in a safe space and to be able to cultivate a sense of pride in their culture,” Osborne said. “We are facing so many things, whether it be systemic oppression, the adverse effects this pandemic has had on communities of color and especially the ongoing and enduring fight with police brutality. To be able to be educated during this historic environment gives you a sense of pride when you need it the most.”

After completing her degrees in English and music industry in 2017, she attended law school at “The Mecca” – Howard University – where she began to see the relationship between her interests in the fashion industry and social justice.

Specifically, her fashion law professor taught the importance of protecting the designs of future trendsetters of color through patents and copyrights. In May 2020, Osborne became one of the youngest graduates of Howard’s law school. Now, she encourages entrepreneurs to take leaps of faith and she looks forward to helping them grow successful businesses.

“I think just growing up in a in a town that really has so much history and creativity, we’ve see how we create and we innovate,” she said, referring to her childhood in Montgomery. “We’ve seen time and time again how that innovation is taken advantage of. I wanted to be a part of the change of cultivating and protecting that creativity by not just contributing to the creative side but protecting the creativity and thus protecting the legacy.”

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