Gemologists live for the fire, the sparkle, the brilliance of stones. Measured in degrees of reflection, refraction and dispersion, the effect of light on a diamond is a defining characteristic of brilliance.
But the brilliance of one Louisiana gemologist shines brighter than any stone in her case. Anne Dale, GIA Graduate Gemologist, Professional Gemologist-Columbia School of Gemology, Fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain, and owner of Anne Dale Jewelry in Mandeville, LA combined her love for gemology and compassion for others to create Jeweler for a Cause – an original collection of jewelry created to raise money, awareness and the spirits of people in need. This philanthropic line not only highlights Anne’s design talents, but it also incorporates her love for the community. Add that to her Italian heritage and you’ve got a formula for brilliance beyond compare.
Jeweler for a Cause began when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed the Gulf Coast in 2005. Anne and her husband Mike Dale watched their community fall to its knees as the flood waters destroyed everything in their path. Living through the aftermath of the 6th most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded took its toll on Anne, as she watched family, friends and community put their lives back together. Anne saw the bad, but she also found the good. Katrina survivors walked away with a greater sense of community. Anne walked away forever changed.
The emotional impact motivated her to draw from the two things she knew best - jewelry and her compassionate heart. In 2006 she established Jeweler for a Cause to focus on the many philanthropic causes she endorsed.
“Jeweler for a Cause exists for three reasons,” she said. “We seek to provide heightened awareness of the cause, funding for the cause and caring for others in need.”
For eight years Jeweler for a Cause has come alongside large and small organizations such as Catholic Charities, House of Blues, Disney Epcot, TABASCO and the Easter Seals Foundation to shine the light on those in need. And each custom designed piece comes with its own unique story that will inevitably touch your heart.
“My first collection was born out of a need for cultural healing of my hometown in the aftermath of Katrina,” says Anne. “I created the Katrina Relief Badge in sterling silver with the theme, ‘I know what it means to love New Orleans.’ I think it was inspired by God. Within 3 days we had 700 hits on our website and Dan Akroyd was asking to purchase 500 of the pins. The proceeds went to the victims of that killer hurricane.”
Anne expanded the collection to include other New Orleans pieces like ‘Return to New Orleans’ and ‘Pray for the Gulf Coast.’ These pieces went on to raise more than $175,000 in hurricane relief.
Riding on the heels of the hurricane relief line, Anne pulled from her personal experience for the 2nd Jeweler for a Cause line. Called the ‘Self-esteem’ pendant, Anne poured her heart into creating a visual representation of the emotional pain associated with vascular birthmarks. Watching her own son, Stephen, deal with the pressure of looking different touched her heart as he struggled to find his significance outside of his external appearance.
“I believe the pressure placed on our youth today to be perfect has never been higher,” she says. “This pendant sends the message, ‘you are beautiful just the way you are.’”
It didn’t take long for Anne to realize that young girls from junior high to college struggle in this area too. The back of the sterling silver pendant is engraved with ‘Beauty Comes From Within,’ and it wasn’t long before young girls became her target audience. Like the first Jeweler for a Cause piece, a portion of the proceeds from the self-esteem piece go to charity.
Anne has since created many other custom lines for Jeweler for a Cause. The Perseverance Pin, is closely tied to the battle with cancer. The Facing Autism pendant, which moves from puzzle piece to the profile of a child, highlights the knowledge and goodness within all children. And the Star of Hope, which combines the Silver Star (3rd highest award given for valor) and the Yellow Ribbon, benefits groups helping military men, women and their families throughout the world.
“One of the most memorable moments from my Jeweler with a Cause line is when I pinned the Star of Hope on Oliver North at the New Orleans D-Day Museum event,” Anne recalls. “I created that piece after Matt Cole, a Mandeville native who was struck by a mortar round launched by insurgents, inspired me. Cole’s spinal cord and lungs were injured and, today, he works with other veterans ensuring they receive all benefits afforded them for their service to their country, and he does it from his wheelchair.”
But perhaps her most significant contribution to date has been her creation of LaPearlite, the state gem of Louisiana. Born out of the Gulf oil spill, Anne’s commitment to her local seafood industry triggered those creative juices. While shucking oysters in her back yard the beautiful pearl-coated shells caught her eye. That led her to try and mine the stone out of this very specific type of oyster (Crassostrea Virginica) that is native to the Gulf Coast. The result was a beautiful organic gemstone from the oyster shell that has luster and differing shades of white and mother of pearl look that swirl throughout each gemstone. In 2011 the LaPearlite became the official Louisiana State Gemstone when it was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal.
Like the brilliant stones that surround her, Anne Dale reflects the love and generosity she has toward her neighbors and her community. The many facets of her philanthropic line highlight not only her caring nature, but also her gemological and design talents. If we measured brilliance in the lives of those around us, Anne Dale’s would be classified as a Super Ideal Make.
Be sure to check out Anne’s many contributions at Annedale.com, Jewelerforacause.com and Lapearlite.com.