Crafting Cultural Heritage: Strong & Precious Foundation’s Celebration of Women Artisans

The Woman-Owned Strong & Precious Foundation, founded by Olga Oleksenko in April 2022, stands as a beacon of resilience against the cultural and human threats posed by conflict in Ukraine.

By uniting, showcasing, and honoring the craftsmanship of Ukrainian women jewelers, the foundation embodies a living archive of Ukraine’s rich cultural heritage, articulated through their skilled artisanship. This initiative not only counters cultural erasure but also empowers the women artisans, many of whom continue their craft amidst the backdrop of conflict, to contribute to preserving and evolving their national identity through their meticulous work. For Women’s History Month we take a look at the brightest talents out there.

Olga Oleksenko

Olga Oleksenko, the visionary behind the foundation, transitioned from her extensive background in jewelry and art collecting to championing Ukrainian jewelry artistry on global platforms. Her endeavors have supported the Ukrainian jewelry community and contributed to humanitarian efforts, reflecting a blend of cultural pride and philanthropy. Olga is a jewelry connoisseur, curator of private jewelry collections, and an art collector. For the past 12 years, Olga Oleksenko was the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique director in Kyiv, afterwards, she became their brand ambassador in Ukraine. She founded the Strong & Precious Art Foundation to demonstrate the depth of the Ukrainian jewelry school and share its beauty with the world.

Iryna Karpova

Iryna Karpova stands as a luminary in the jewelry domain, propelling the artistic boundaries with her Avant-Garde Romantic style, a progressive leap beyond conventional aesthetics. Her creations, distinguished by their unique forms and the warm, rich palette of gold, amber, and traditional Ukrainian reddish tones, showcase her commitment to an organic jewelry aesthetic that exudes both individuality and a deep-rooted warmth. With over 25 years of experience spanning architecture and jewelry design, Her craftsmanship is akin to architectural mastery on a diminutive scale, reflecting a profound confluence of her extensive knowledge and fervent enthusiasm. Her work, a modern homage to age-old artisanal skills, integrates time-honored techniques with contemporary flair, ensuring each piece resonates with historical richness yet appeals to modern tastes. Renowned internationally, her exquisite collections have been showcased in major global capitals like Paris, Monte Carlo, New York, Hong Kong, Moscow, and Kiev, securing their place in esteemed private collections worldwide.

Drutis Jewellery

At the heart of Drutis Jewellery, a distinguished luxury brand owned by women, lies the innovative integration of kinetic design, making each piece a captivating work of art. This mother-daughter venture blends treasured memories of youth with sophisticated artisanship and select materials, crafting jewelry that echoes stories of heritage and emotional resonance. Their creations, inspired by the dynamic motion of kinetic art, cherished heirlooms, and meaningful symbolism, are testaments to their dedication to evoking a sense of delight, enchantment, and a commitment to honoring the legacy of their country’s jewelry traditions. Originating from a deep-seated love for both time-honored and modern jewelry designs, they aim to foster communal bonds through their work. Confronting the challenges posed by the current conflict, their teams in England and Ukraine continue to forge ahead, crafting exquisite pieces that epitomize their brand ethos. Their latest offering, an exquisite line of kaleidoscope pendants, invites wearers to view the world through a prism of beauty and innovation.

Inesa Kovalova

Renowned for her sophisticated and forward-thinking approach to jewelry design, Inesa Kovalova crafts pieces that mirror the essence of contemporary life, distinguished by a modern and profound aesthetic. Her innovative creations span from reimagined timeless pieces to avant-garde 3D-printed jewelry, positioning her at the forefront of the gemological industry. With Ukrainian roots, her well-established design career transitioned from architecture to a profound exploration of art and design in Italy, further honed at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London. She draws profound inspiration from the digital-age dynamics of expanding cities and industrial settings, enhanced by a connection to abstract art. This influence is particularly poignant as she navigates the complexities of contemporary challenges impacting her homeland. Kovalova articulates her philosophy: viewing jewelry as a form of art that should resonate with the zeitgeist, compelling her to embrace innovative technologies, new materials, and fresh sources of inspiration.

Yuliia Komendat

Yuliia graduated from IED Milano in 2023 in Jewelry Design and previously obtained a certificate in Higher education in Gemmology and Jewelry studies at Birmingham City University. Being only 22 years old, Yuliia Komendat is in the process of starting her jewelry line under the name Komendat Jewelry, which will be focused not only on her artistic fine jewelry pieces but also will continue her thesis work by transforming them into “Couture” Bridal Jewelry. Yuliia co-curated her first jewelry exhibition, “Before We Leave,” in 2023 with her classmates in Milan, which increased attention to her work in Italy. After that, she was nominated for the “New Talents Award 2023” by Klimt 02. In 2023, VO+ Magazine published an article that considered Yuliia Komendat to be featured as one of the five emerging jewelers – “The next J Gen.” Additionally, she participated in competitive project collaborations with Swarovski Crystals and Brosway Italia, winning both of them. This leaves her debut line, ‘Komendat’, highly anticipated, with which she aims to create true “Couture” Bridal Jewelry. She says of herself, “life has given her the greatest gift because it has taught her to transform emotions into physical objects, imprinting them for years”.

Upholding and promoting a culture is crucial not merely for preserving traditions but also for enabling individuals to express themselves freely and fully, thereby expanding opportunities for designers from diverse backgrounds and honoring the women who have pioneered this industry. The collective that forms Strong & Precious brims with remarkable talent, encompassing both emerging talents and seasoned experts, all dedicated to creating significant collections that resonate deeply with those who seek to wear genuinely impactful pieces. Industry anticipation is high for the future they will create.

Find out more about the Strong & Precious foundation here.



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