Diawéne, Oslo-Meets-West Africa Jewelry brand

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For Haddy and Aissatou Ceesay, the sisters of the Oslo-based Diawéne jewelry line, every aspect of their brand is a family affair. From its name, derived from the West African surname Diaw, to its commitment to working with local artisans in Senegal, where the family of the co-founders originated, the accessories brand pays homage to West culture. African and the region’s deep respect for jewelry. . The brand’s unisex collection of clever hoops, delicate chain necklaces and signet rings in gold and silver perfectly combines the crisp Scandinavian aesthetic with features – such as a slightly rough finish – that are representative of the style. traditional West African. The sibling duo said their experience growing up between two worlds allows them to create jewelry that is both modern and timeless, simple yet sophisticated and elegant.

At the Oslo Fushion Festival, where Diawéne presented a limited edition collection on opening day, we spoke with the founders about how they worked together to create one of Norway’s most exciting jewelry brands. .

Diawéne’s creations are very inspired by your West African heritage. What traditions do you want to honor through your brand? How are they reflected in your jewelry and production practices?

One of our main goals is to honor the way our culture respects and values ​​art, especially jewelry. In our culture, jewelry – especially gold – is of great value and is often something given to you as a gift on a special occasion – when you are getting married, for example. Jewelry is made to last and is often personalized.

In Senegalese culture, we have a lot of respect, honor, pride and gratitude. These are some of the traditions that we try to keep with us when we work and interact with people.

You also draw on your own experiences of living in Oslo to create jewelry. How do you define the Scandinavian expression and how do you translate it into your collections?

Scandinavian design, in our opinion, is detailed simplicity. Since we [grew up] between two worlds – with Senegalese and Gambian parents, but born and raised in Norway – it feels very natural and easy to translate that into the brand. The brand is largely a reflection of us, and that’s sometimes hard to explain because the real answer is that it’s “just us”.

However, if you are looking for something specific in our jewelry, we mostly do simple designs, but add the finish and details of the Senegalese look – which is often a rougher look with tiny details on the surface of the jewelry. .

How does it feel to run a jewelry business together as sisters?

This is very fun! We get to know each other in a whole new way, and you learn a lot from each other. We live together in our childhood home in Ellingsrudåsen, Oslo, so there’s never really a time when we hardly talk about our brand. [Laughs] We have always been very close as sisters, so it was sometimes a little difficult to separate being sisters and working together. We have managed to strike a nice balance now, but it has taken a while. Now we love to discover new sides of each other and get even closer, if that is even possible.

Earlier this year, Lil Nas X stylist Hodo Musa asked you to make a personalized ring for the artist. Weekly entertainment digital cover. What was your reaction when you saw the editorial? And what can you tell us about the design?

We were awesome, super happy and excited. Lil Nas X is an icon and a true role model for many, including us. We are so honored. On top of that, Hodo is not only a beautiful person, but also an amazing stylist who is fearless and with great vision.

While making the jewelry, we communicated with Hodo while we were producing in Senegal. We did a few pieces with Lil Nas X in mind and went for something traditional but fun. The shell of coffee beans is often used to decorate jewelry and has a fascinating history in West Africa. For us, it’s very Senegalese. He added a nice touch to the ring.

Who else do you dream of seeing Diawéne pieces on?

Lil Nas X was definitely on our list. We always dream of seeing our pieces on style icons like Rihanna, Bella Hadid, A $ AP Rocky, Amina Muaddi and Pernille Teisbaek. They are big names, but we love to see our jewelry on anyone. Seeing a child from New York, Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo or LA in our creations is an honor in itself.

You presented a limited edition collection at the Jewelry Edition at the Oslo Fushion Festival. How did you feel about participating in the event alongside other exciting local jewelry designers?

It’s very special to be able to do collaborations like this. Artist and designer Ali Gallefoss did a fantastic job with the show, and all the brands have some stunning pieces. We feel very honored, humble and grateful.

Besides jewelry, you also recently launched a handbag and clutch. Do you see the brand diversifying into other accessory categories in the future?

We were inspired to play with different types of accessories thanks to our creative mom. She introduced us to jewelry from a young age, because it is a tradition to offer your children and your immediate family jewelry in gold or silver. We remember wearing little hoops with necklaces and then styling them with matching colorful dresses and bags. Hopefully Diawéne can branch out and become a lifestyle brand that would continue to produce in Senegal or maybe other places in Africa. Senegal has many talented creatives in different fields, such as leather, jewelry, sculpture, etc. Since we were young we have been obsessed with accessories of all kinds. Sometimes we would go with our mom, or our mom would sew matching outfits for the whole family. She still does today.

What’s the next step for Diawéne?

We hope to continue to develop our brand internationally. We wish to emphasize social sustainability through our work in Senegal. We hope to continue to do so and hopefully have the opportunity to do the same in other African countries. We are currently working on how to help support the education system in Senegal and help raise women in the local community who wish to pursue a career to support their families.

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