Pittman’s Passion

photograph Jay Lawrence Goldman

Last Wednesday was one of those days I wish I had more of. I met my sister at the Met where we saw a lovely exhibit (more on that later), had lunch in the serene Trustee’s dining room, and then wandered down to Bergdorf’s. Always good for a little divine distraction, the fabulous jewelry department was chock full of treasures. I was particularly attracted to a new line, which has an interesting story.

Following a career in private equity, Ashley Pittman decided to volunteer for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative in Rwanda, where she immediately fell in love with the country and its people. Upon returning home to the states, she attended law school but never forgot her experiences in East Africa. Ever since her time there, Pittman had the idea to start a jewelry line made of indigenous horn using the skills of local artisans. After searching for months, she serendipitously met Penny Winter, the wife of the owner of the Ngong House outside of Nairobi, who owned a small shop in the hotel. Together they formed a partnership that has become Ashley Pittman Jewelry, producing horn, bronze, and gemstone jewelry from Kenya.

The horn is from cows raised by local tribes and then carved by a women’s cooperative. The use only fair-trade stones, mined in Africa, which are then set in Nairobi by local artisans. The company works closely with their partners in Kenya to assure that workers are paid fairly and all work conditions are bright and well-ventialted.

The pieces are natural, organic and chic! Not to mention that your purchase is doing good. It helps to support not only the artisans but their drought-ridden community. The company has an associated foundation that donates 10% of all profits from the jewelry collection back to Kamboo, an agrarian community that has lost all means of income and sustainability over the last four years. It funds a school, dispensary and local health center which Penny Winter and her husband raised the initial investment to build.

The pieces are beautifully made and versatile to wear. They can straddle any style from BoHo chic to elegant statement. Diana Vreeland would have loved this line! Can’t you just picture her with these cuffs stacked and the maltese cross?! I think she would have said “Why don’t you just …”

photo by Priscilla Rattazzi via Fashion’s Most Wanted.

I think she would have chosen this Muruthi Horn Bangle

this hazy cuff bracelet

or this bronze chain necklace to wear together with the horn cross.

All elegant iconic pieces, echoing the shapes and textures of their country of origin. And you don’t even have to rationalize your purchase – you can wear it in good conscience.

34 thoughts on “Pittman’s Passion

  1. Completely fabulous, wonderful design I picked up a buffalo horn necklace in Vietnam it is fabulous so light in our hot climates. Are these heavy pieces or is the horn the same, very light?

  2. What a fantastic blog you have. I love the mixture of things that you’ve posted about. Sea slugs? They’re GORGEOUS (and I never thought I’d say that!!).

    It sounds like you had the most wonderful day. I’m wishing I could see that gorgeous jewellery for myself but will have to content myself with drooling over your pictures!!

    I’ve subscribed to your blog – can’t wait to hear more!


  3. Isn’t it amazing that something so lovely can be produced now in a ravaged country like Kamboo? The daily lives of these people breaks your heart, yet out of that they create these wonderful objects. There is so much jewelry out there, but this line is pure genius. The human spirit is amazing isn’t it? Thanks for the reminder!

  4. What a fabulous line of jewelry! Love the story behind it, not to mention the great pieces that you chose for DV…I often wonder if she was alive today, what her blog would be like…(cause you know she would have one).

  5. gorgeous pieces. I love the combination of the metal, stones and horn; the contrast of textures. I might have to splurge on early birthday gift for self….. Thanks, Q for another wonderful post!

  6. I love this!! I have a slight obsession with cuffs and these are fabulous. The horn is so unique too. Can’t wait to check out her website! xo Kelly

  7. Really spectacular pieces and all the more beautiful because of what they stand for and the good they are doing. Thanks for bringing us this lovely and inspirational story.

  8. I just went to the website which is also beautiful. I wish that there were a “buy” option on the site as I would have bought one of the bracelets on the spot. Thanks for showcasing this amazing company.

  9. Wow! I had no idea about this wonderful backstory! We carry Ashley Pittman’s collection at Richards and Mitchells. I am a cuff girl and IMMEDIATELY raced to try them on… I do have a large hand, but wear a Med. Hermes bangle with ease. They are quite tiny and I didn’t have a prayer of getting them on…much to my chagrin.
    I totally agree!!! DV would have adored this collection.

  10. OK that hazy cuff is to die for. I love anything that has to do with proceeds going back to their local community and supporting the women! What a great story, amazing jewelry and an extra reason for us to purchase and give back.

  11. These pieces are lovely! That’s funny I’d forgotten about the pendant DV is wearing in that picture. I’ve been looking for something similar since Christmas and had just blogged about it before reading this. Great minds think alike! xx

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