How did you begin your journey as a jeweler?
My journey began with a bad purchase. Having a personal thirst for understanding my curiosity turned into my calling.
Where did your initial interest in sourcing diamonds come from?
I have been interested in global trade for a quite a while. I began sourcing because not only does it assist me with my [diamond] line, but it inadvertently effects millions of families across the world.
Being from the South and Houston specifically, “flashy” jewelry, designer clothes and icy grills are an essential part of the culture. How has your upbringing influenced your love for luxury?
Being Black, in general, is a cultural element that I don’t express in the collection, because the line is in the bespoke area. However, being Black in America and seeing the disproportionate levels of understanding luxury is apparent and it’s a problem. Hence, why I am committed to teaching financial literacy in this aspect of luxury. I am re-writing narratives and stereotypes that grills and chains are our only form of luxury. There is a startling need for exposure in our community to true luxury.
Have you experienced any bias in the industry? Was it challenging for you to get into the business?
What makes me one of a kind is the method in which I actualize a piece. I start from source in the mines and take the stones through the entire journey, and I am licensed to do so. There are double biases on one side people are under the impression that I’m going to sell grills and chains. While on the other side they think that I don’t know what I’m talking about and I don’t understand the business. I’m a triple minority. I am a Black American female business owner. Being Black, they assume you’re not aware of the business. Being American, people assume that you’re not sophisticated and uncultured. Being female, they assume that I am easily intimidated or get over on while negotiating business.
Was it challenging to get in this business?
Absolutely! There are so many inherent dangers in the industry on both sides. Starting off, I was micro-aggressively boxed out, secrets were kept and information withheld as a means to discourage newcomers. Although it is a global industry, there is a very small circle of people in the industry. Everyone you deal with is a touch above a normal person. So, I encountered some truly colorful personalities.
Tell us about designing your own personal cut of gems patented by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). How did that come about?
I can’t speak too deeply on it as it is still in the process.
You are the only American to have your own manufacturing office in the Diamond District of Johannesburg, S.A., how did you discover the possibilities there?
Transparently speaking, South Africa is a major diamond hub. I learned through business and personal connections that I made throughout the years, tied with my understanding of global trade.
How are you working to bridge the gap between Black American and African entrepreneurs?
Something that we have now that we didn’t before is the power of social media. Social media is one of the ways I have been able to bridge the gap by documenting my own journey as well as linking the platforms of other entrepreneurs from Africa. Utilizing the cross collaboration through social media, I have been able to not only expand my own network, but allow the space for other influential connections that 40 years ago would’ve been virtually impossible.
Currently I am working on 3 visual projects. A docuseries, a reality tv and a day in the life IGTV Series rolling out between September through early 2022. I am pleased to announce that my reality show will be premiering on a black streaming network.
Where did your interest in exploring the African Diaspora stem from?
First and foremost, it is a fact that Africa is the most resource rich continent on the planet.
How has entrepreneurship challenged you?
Being Black gives people in the industry the automatic assumption that I don’t know what I’m doing. Many people I work around have either been in the industry for decades or come from a multi-generational diamond dealing family. They keep vital industry knowledge secret and micro-aggressively box out newcomers. Being a woman gives people the automatic assumption that I can be run over and easily manipulated during a deal. Being an American gives people the automatic assumption that I am ignorant and uncultured. Being all three combined is nonexistent in Johannesburg, to begin with. The only thing that I can do is continue to persevere and exist. The more I come back the more I break down malicious narratives and stereotypes that were even dwelling in the minds of foreigners in regards to us as well. It’s truly healing from the perspective of both sides.
Obviously the diamond business is pretty profitable and we know you have to spend money to make money. How expensive is it to get in the diamond business initially?
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. What’s next for Gina White?
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to wake up and act like no one is telling you no! In regards to what’s next my website is laughing August 19th. My master class drops around that time as well. I have a coffee table book that I will be dropping for the holidays.
Be sure to follow Gina White on Instagram for more updates on her upcoming projects and luxury jewelry collection.