Making mass production a thing of the past, these jewelry brands are spearheading change through sustainable and ethical practices
Wald Berlin Stylist Dana Roski and model Joyce Binneboese are the brains behind WALD Berlin, a contemporary brand with a Scandinavian aesthetic whose designs reflect the duo’s love of travel. Handmade in Germany under Fairtrade guidelines by a collective of women (largely older generation grandmothers living in the German countryside), the brand aims to provide employment to those living where jobs are scarce.
An ethical co-creation design house with a unique approach, Akamae connects creatives and refugee artisans to collaborate on exclusive capsule collections. The brand’s website provides a digital marketplace, and a bricks-and-mortar HQ in the jungle of northern Thailand gives a base to refugees displaced from ongoing conflict in Myanmar. Local, fair, upcycled, organic, and cruelty-free products are used to create, for example, utterly wearable tribal-inspired cuffs, chokers, and rings in solid brass.
Celebrating her homeland has been a driving force behind HRH Sheikha bint Khalifa bin Saif Al Nahyan’s contemporary fine jewelry brand, MKS, since its launch in 2013. Now the UAE’s illustrious heritage – from date farming to camel racing and fishing – informs a new collection of charm bracelets, each one individually hand-knotted in silk by the women and children of the UAE-Jordan run Mrajeeb Al Fhood Refugee Camp. Proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will be donated to the refugee camp.
London-based designer Pippa Small is a pioneer in compassionate design, traveling extensively to create her ethically made jewelry with signatures of precious stones and talismanic symbols, in collaboration with indigenous and traditional craftspeople. In 2018 she marked the 10th anniversary of her partnership with the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan, which provides employment for local artisans while also generating a market for their work.
In 2016, Dubai-based, Syrian-born designer Yara Tlass named her debut collection uSfuur (“bird” in Arabic), and she continues to incorporate the winged motif throughout her fine jewelry collections. Working with local communities and grassroots initiative Watanili in Reyhanli, a small Turkish town close to the Syrian border, Yara supports campaigns and recreational activities for displaced children by donating a percentage of each sale to their cause. Most recently she has been working on a collaboration with Syrian-Swiss designer Omar Hallawi inspired by Damascus – proceeds will go towards supporting local communities in need.
Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia