The New Guard: 10 Top Brands Leading The Way In Eco-Luxury Accessories


Next month, gem giant De Beers will finally unveil its first-ever lab-grown diamond jewellery line — signalling a rise in consumer demand towards traceable stones and sustainably-sourced luxury. Ahead of the highly-anticipated launch, we look at some brands who have paved the way forward by crafting unique and exquisite creations with a reduced carbon footprint to boot.

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Earlier this year De Beers Group — the world's leading diamond company — made waves in the luxury accessories sector when it announced that it would be launching ‘Lightbox Jewellery’ – a revolutionary new fashion jewellery brand using laboratory-grown diamonds — 100% synthetic and beyond conflict-free.

Set to debut to consumers in September 2018, Lightbox promises to offer consumers “high-quality, fashion jewellery at lower prices than existing lab-grown diamond offerings”, with product to retail from US$200 for a quarter-carat stone to US$800 for a one-carat stone. Comprised of various styles, the collection will also feature pink and blue gems — in addition to classic clear stones — in a selection of accessibly-priced earring and necklace designs.

But beyond adding another brand to the prolific De Beers diamond empire, the move to launch Lightbox — which comes after years of disavowing the authenticity of ‘man-made’ stones via campaigns such as “Real is Rare” (spearheaded by the Diamond Producers Association)’ — also marks a U-turn in the company’s overall strategy, and highlights the growing demand for sustainable luxury, driven en masse by consumers worldwide.

Produced by planting carbon ‘seeds’ in highly-controlled laboratory conditions which mimic the Earth’s natural growing environment, these man-made alternatives are not exactly new, but — pioneered by start-ups and positioned as ethical alternatives to socially and environmentally damaging mining operations — in recent times their appeal has risen sharply, with analysts predicting that they could even outshine natural gems in popularity by the time 2020 rolls around.

De Beers joining the fray ultimately means that big business is now taking notice — opening the floodgates for larger-scale production of these man-made stones in future — and while it’s undoubtedly a win for those craving for luxury which also ticks some eco-boxes, there are a number of trailblazing brands who have been breaking that mould for some time.

Here, we spotlight a selection of lab-grown diamond labels and innovative brands who have led the way for sustainable luxury, by weaving both ethical and environmental duties into their everyday operations — and the exquisite eco-friendly accessories they offer.


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THE CULTURED DIAMOND PIONEERS

Setting an example in synthetic diamond creations, these innovative players are lighting the way towards a more sustainable luxury future by pushing lab-grown gem jewellery to new heights.

 

THE CULTURED DIAMOND PIONEERS

Setting an example in synthetic diamond creations, these innovative players are lighting the way towards a more sustainable luxury future by pushing lab-grown gem jewellery to new heights.

 


Atelier Swarovski


Sustainable Haute Joallerie exclusively designed by Penelope Cruz.

Last month, at an exclusive cocktail event during Paris Haute Couture Week, Hollywood star Penelope Cruz launched a lab-grown diamond jewellery line with Atelier Swarovski, marking the next step on the company’s journey to becoming a leader in conscious luxury.

The new fine jewellery collection created in collaboration with the actress consists of 14 stylish pieces, set with Swarovski-created diamonds and gemstones formed in the Atelier’s state-of-the-art laboratories. The range also features Swarovski-genuine topaz, sourced from traceable supply chains in Brazil, Tanzania and Sri Lanka, and has been crafted with 18-karat Fairtrade gold mined from the Minera Limata Limitada co-operative in Peru. 

Since 2016 Atelier Swarovski has also been a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) — an organisation established by the jewellery industry to advance responsible social and environmental practices. In addition, it’s parent company — the Swarovski Crystal Business — is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and aligns its strategy with the ten principles which cover the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. 


Visit:  www.atelierswarovski.com

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 © Atelier Swarovski

© Atelier Swarovski


Mia Donna


Cultured diamons with the ‘seal of approval’ for the Highest Standards in Environmental Sustainability.

Driven by the desire to find a truly environmentally friendly and conflict-free option for diamond-set jewellery, New Zealand-born entrepreneur Anna-Mieke Anderson established MiaDonna & Company in 2005, and has been offering the latest in lab-created diamond and gem alternatives ever since.

Now based in Portland, Oregon, MiaDonna specialises in beautiful, ethical and handcrafted engagement rings and bridal jewellery made with conflict-free diamonds, gemstones and recycled metals. Every setting is created using the finest grade recycled gold, palladium or platinum reducing the harmful effects on humanity and the earth, and the company plants one tree through One Tree Planted for each and every order to help offset the carbon emissions generated during shipping.

To boot, MiaDonna has also been awarded the Green America ‘Seal of Approval’ for achieving the highest standards in environmental sustainability, with a percentage of profits from each purchase funnelled into programs which fund educational, mentorship, agricultural, and urgent relief programs in diamond mining communities through the company’s charity foundation The Greener Diamond (TGD).

Miadonna also recently launched an exclusive Home Try-On Program in June, which allows customers to have three sample rings from the collection delivered for a free trial, so they can choose their favourite in person and then purchase directly online.


Visit:  www.miadonna.com

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 © Mia Donna

© Mia Donna


Lark & Berry


Introducing the world’s first physical store selling lab-grown gem jewellery.

A favourite of celebrity fans — including Victoria’s Secret star Martha Hunt, Australian model Bambi Northwood-Blyth, and French fashion blogger, television presenter and actress Caroline Receveur — luxury jewellery brand Lark & Berry offers cultured diamond collections with class, in a range of highly-covetable designs.

The brainchild of founder Laura Chavez and renowned British-based designer Katie Rowland, Lark & Berry was brought to life in 2017 after Chavez learnt of flaws which exist in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (originally designed to ensure a conflict-free supply chain of diamonds) — and set out to disrupt the jewellery industry.

Using lab-grown, cultured stones that guarantee a transparency which is impossible to attain with mined diamonds, the brand has forged ahead with its brilliant creations which aim to reduce the damaging impact of mining on the environment, while offering consumers the highest-quality gems at affordable prices.

The brand has been so successful that it recently opened its own outlet — the world’s first physical store for non-mined precious stones in Marylebone, London — which offers the full spectrum of its brilliant pieces, with prices ranging from $200 for the demi-fine 14Kgold collections, and US$3,000 to US$100,000 for fine jewellery and wedding collections in 18K gold and platinum.


Visit:  www.larkandberry.com

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 © Lark & Berry

© Lark & Berry


Chatham


80 years of excellence in producing pure man-made gems.

Pioneering the concept of fine gems with a clean conscience since 1938 is Chatham — the world’s leading source of high-quality laboratory-grown stones — which celebrates eight decades in the cultured diamond business this year, and boasts a rich, trusted heritage that is hard to beat.

From humble beginnings and early experimentations in Carroll Chatham’s garage in San Francisco, California, the company became the first in the world to create lab-grown emerald crystals, and has since expanded over several decades to offer collections set with cultured stones in a kaleidoscope of styles, colours and types including: screaming red rubies, blue, pink, white, and yellow sapphires, and its trademark verdant green emeralds; as well as padparadscha, alexandrite, aqua blue spinel, clear diamonds, and pearls.

In tribute to the legacy of its founder — Chatham-created gems are also on display at the Smithsonian Institution and the collection of the Gemological Institute of America — and the company continues to support education and gemological research, having contributed more than $1,500,000 to museums, educational and research institutions, and charities over the years.


Visit:  www.chatham.com

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 © Chetham

© Chetham


Vrai & Oro


The digital start-up for sustainable jewellery, direct to consumers & minus the mark-ups.

Founded by Vanessa Stofenmacher and Chelsea Nicholson, Vrai & Oro — which means “truth” in French and “gold” in Spanish — revolves around the principles of minimalist, fine jewellery with sustainable roots and superior quality, sold at a fair price, and easy to access.

Bought in 2016 by the Diamond Foundry — the Leonardo DiCaprio-backed start-up that uses solar power technology to create all its stones — Vrai & Oro offers cultured diamond jewellery with gems which are home-grown in LA’s Silicon Valley, minimising their carbon footprint by harnessing the power of the sun.

In addition to reducing environmental impact, and ensuring its ethics are in tact, Vrai & Oro also aims to champion a more honest sales structure by adopting a direct-to-consumer cost model — offering its high-quality gold and diamond accessories purely online and at a fraction of the price — with most pieces retailing between US$70-US$495.


Visit:  www.vraiandoro.com

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 © Vrai & Oro

© Vrai & Oro


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Cutting-Edge Entrants & Accessories with an Eco-Twist

Taking the concept of sustainable luxury to the next level, these brands are experimenting with upcycled and recycled metals, novel materials, and innovative processes to produce exquisite accessories which are also environmentally friendly.

 

Cutting-Edge Entrants & Accessories with an Eco-Twist

Taking the concept of sustainable luxury to the next level, these brands are experimenting with upcycled and recycled metals, novel materials, and innovative processes to produce exquisite accessories which are also environmentally friendly.

 


Baume by Baume & Mercier


Recycling waste into environmentally responsible custom watches.

Crafted from from recycled, up-cycled and sustainable materials, Baume — the new offshoot brand launched this year from iconic Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier — is a testament to the company’s commitment towards forging a future for sustainable luxury products.

Proving that it is possible to re-invent waste to create quality, highly durable and beautifully designed accessories while also cutting CO2 emissions, Baume’s initial offering is comprised of two distinct watch collections — the Iconic Series and the Custom Timepiece Series — and the brand uses no animal-based materials and no precious metals or gems mined from the Earth, making it both vegan and eco-friendly.

Combining Baume’s sustainable philosophy with minimalist design and expert craftsmanship which reflects the Richemont Group’s high standards in quality watchmaking — the Iconic collection is updated seasonally, and features an automatic movement timepiece made from aluminium with a 100% recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate made of plastic resin and a form of polyester) bracelet; with a Limited Edition Series to follow later in 2018.

The Custom Timepiece Series by comparison, gives customers the opportunity to co-create their own full personalised watches via an online configurator with over 2000 permutations, offering a varied choice of case materials, dial, hand colours, and sustainable straps to choose from which are either PET or made from natural materials such as cork, linen, cotton or Alcantara.

Additionally, Baume has also joined forces with Waste Free Oceans (WFO) — a Brussels based public-private partnership NGO committed to preventing and fighting (marine) litter — to transform the plastic into a recycled product that Baume will use for watchstraps, in the first of a string of eco-led collaborations to come. Watches are available through Baume’s e-store with prices starting from US$560.


Visit:  www.baumewatches.com

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 © Baume by Baume & Mercier

© Baume by Baume & Mercier


WeWOOD Watches


Saving trees with top quality timepieces.

Founded in 2010 with the goal of combining luxury fashion accessories with environmental sustainability, WeWOOD watches are the first to create wrist watches from wood, completely free of toxic and artificial materials.

Originally hailing from Florence, Italy, WeWOOD watches weave Italian craftsmanship and ecological principles into unique timepieces which care for the Earth by using only scrap and recycled timber from around the world, in addition to cotton fibres, to create their wares.

WeWOOD further minimises its carbon footprint and contributes to our planet’s forests by planting a tree for each watch sold — an initiative in collaboration with non-profit organizations such as Trees for the Future. To date — and with the help of its customers and partners — WeWOOD has planted 604,475 trees across the globe since its reforestation program began in 2010.


Visit:  www.we-wood.com

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 © WeWood

© WeWood


Jacqueline & Edward


A greener alternative to commercially mined gold.

Taking the concept of sustainable sourcing and singular luxury to new levels, Jacqueline & Edward offer bespoke gold panning experiences and hand-made wedding bands and associated jewellery with an extraordinary artisan touch and a distinctive personal twist.

As a chartered environmentalist with 25 years of expertise in panning and prospecting gold and silver across England, Scotland and Wales, business owner Mark Bell truly believes in the sustainable acquisition of precious metals and therefore only uses natural gold and silver he has recovered by hand (often over 16-hour days) from both known and unknown gold and silver regions across the UK to craft each and every piece of jewellery he custom designs.

The EcoGold and EcoSilver which he uses in his collections has been 100% recycled back via traceable processes into fine gold with none of the associated human or environmental problems that can sometimes be associated with mining — making these items not only sustainable and eco-friendly, but also beautifully rare and unique.

Each piece is sold with a personalised certificate of provenance and is stamped with the hallmark of Jacqueline & Edward to certify authenticity.


Visit:  www.jacquelineandedward.com

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 © Jacqueline & Edward

© Jacqueline & Edward


Jacqueline Cullen


Fine jewellery carved to perfection from a prehistoric land.

Taking inspiration from nature to create awe-inspiring eco-led luxury accessories — Jacqueline Cullen’s jewellery collections are crafted from Whitby Jet — a rare 180 million years old fossil made popular by Queen Victoria and found across the North Yorkshire coast in the UK.

To obtain the precious jet black material and ensure that each piece is meticulously and sustainably sourced by hand — Jacqueline Cullen’s Whitby-based supplier abseils/rappels down the cliffs on ropes to retrieve the raw specimens of fossilised wood from disused mines and caves.

Every single jewellery item is then entirely hand-made in Jacqueline Cullen’s ateliers based in Whitby and Central London, with all fissures and crevices hand-carved by Cullen herself, embracing the flaws and inclusions naturally inherent in the raw material — making each creation both hauntingly beautiful and exquisitely unique. 


Visit:  www.jacquelinecullen.com

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 © Jacqueline Cullen

© Jacqueline Cullen


Piñatex


Eco bags, accessories, footwear & furniture spun exclusively from nature.

Dreamed up by ethical entrepreneur Dr. Carmen Hijosa and painstakingly developed to perfection over seven years of R&D, Piñatex® is an innovative natural, non-woven textile, which is inspired by the principles of a Circular Economy and Cradle to Cradle values.

Whilst on a consulting mission in the Philippines working as a leathergoods expert, Dr. Hijosa was shocked by the environmental impact of mass leather production and chemical tanning, and was driven to find an eco-friendly, sustainable and vegan alternative to leather and PVC/PU materials — the result of her research was Piñatex®.

Made by using the natural fibres from pineapple leaves which are the by-product of the existing pineapple harvest industry —no additional land, water, fertilizers or pesticides need to be used to produce it — which makes it very low on environmental impact compared to other textile crops.

In addition to re-purposing agricultural waste, the production of Piñatex® has also contributed towards creating a scalable commercial industry for farmers, which means that this product is not only eco-friendly, but has positive societal benefits for developing local communities as well.

Currently, Piñatex® only supplies its materials directly to brands, and to-date has been picked up and used to craft various eco-conscious collections and products including bags, accessories, fashion, furniture and footwear, for a variety of boutique luxury labels around the world, such as: Hugo Boss, Edun, MDK, Alexandra K, Kantala, Eve & Adis, Artesano, Ina Koelln, Maniwala, Time IV Change, Allure Sauvage, and more.


Visit:  www.ananas-anam.com

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 © Piñatex

© Piñatex


Words / Daniela Aroche

This article was originally published in Tidlrs / Journal.