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Eileen McClelland

Jewelers For Water: Fine-Tuning the Message



Although the scope of Alethe Fatherley’s caring may sometimes seem as deep and wide as the ocean, what she cares most about these days is simply well water.

So Fatherley, A GIA graduate gemologist and founder of Jewelers That Care, has given her nonprofit organization a new name — Jewelers For Water — that makes her message more clear than ever.

She has learned, through travels to Africa, that lack of water and lack of education lead to a spiral of health and social problems, especially for rural communities, and has worked since 2007 to bring clean, life-saving water to children in African villages.

So, if you’re at the JA New York show July 27-28 at the Javits Center, stop by Alethe Fatherley’s booth to soak up a little inspiration and learn how you might be able to help.

Fatherly got her start in the jewelry business at Tiffany & Co., and later taught gemology at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She also worked for David Yurman, H. Stern and Lazare Kaplan International. At Lazare Kaplan, she became interested in the firm’s diamond-cutting facilities in Namibia, and in the process of learning about that aspect of the jewelry industry, developed a keen interest in the people of rural Africa and their daily challenges.

Fatherly’s sterling silver water pump necklace with designer Thomas Kurilla and manufacturer Hoover & Strong. (MSRP $180).

An eye-opening, three-week trip to Tanzania changed her life as well as her outlook. The children she met yearned for an education but faced often insurmountable obstacles in pursuit of that education.


One huge obstacle was the lack of accessible water wells. While volunteering with the group Cross-Cultural Solutions, she joined local women in walking five miles to obtain water from wells. Only to discover, when they would finally arrive, that the water was dirty, or was otherwise inaccessible.

She volunteered as a kindergarten teacher there, too, for a few weeks, came back home to her life on the East Coast, and immediately took action to raise money for the children who had changed her. With the first $1,000 collected from a garage sale and networking with her friends, she was able to build two bathrooms for the kindergarten kids.

Her next step was to found the nonprofit organization Jewelers That Care in 2007 with the laudable goals of building both water wells and boarding schools, through donations and jewelry industry partnerships, and raising awareness with an annual awards event in Las Vegas.

The first well was built in Tanzania’s Mwanga District, near Mount Kilimanjaro.

And more recently, Fatherly partnered with designer Thomas Kurilla and manufacturer Hoover & Strong to create a sterling silver water pump necklace (MSRP $180), available at a wholesale price to retail jewelers. It’s made in the United States from recycled metal. Fifty percent of the net proceeds from the sale of each vintage-style water pump pendant goes directly to funding water well projects in rural villages of Africa.

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