The Fairmined 100 Challenge, a yearlong initiative to encourage jewelry- makers around the world to create collections made of Fairmined gold, silver, or gold plating, yielded a lovely surprise for pearl enthusiasts. Among the 127 collections that were created for the challenge (far exceeding its 100-collection goal), a handful included pearl jewels that make clear why the organic gems are the perfect complement to ethically and responsibly sourced gold.
The challenge, which ran from September 2021 to August 2022, was spearheaded by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), a Colombian NGO that works with artisanal and small-scale mining communities to encourage the use of Fairmined certified metals. It was an over-the-top success. Of the 97 designers and brands that participated—including some familiar to JCK readers, including Aether Diamonds, Wwake, Dana Bronfman, and Christina Malle—47 brands were new to Fairmined metals, helping to prove “that making responsible jewelry with a social impact is possible,” according to a video about the challenge.
Pearls are often described as the most sustainable gems in the world because their production depends on clean, pollution-free water. So it stands to reason that a number of designers participating in the Fairmined 100 Challenge chose to pair them with responsible gold.
The designs featuring pearls were, by and large, minimalist in nature. In the Étreintes Chapter III collection by Paris-based JEM, which won one of the awards for groundbreaking innovation, a Fijian pearl crowns a modernist ring.
The Celeste collection from Myel in Montreal, Quebec’s only retail jeweler to use Fairmined metal, features a ring, pendant, and necklace set with pearls from Collins Pearls in Tahiti. “This Polynesian farm adapts constantly to the natural imperatives as they change or evolve to produce eco-responsible pearls,” according to a statement accompanying the collection.
Meanwhile, New York City–based Christina Malle set her Berry Leaf earrings with pearls from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, best known for their intriguing play of color.
All in all, the collections that featured pearls were distinguished by classic design married with an inventive approach to sourcing: With pearls from Fiji, Mexico, Tahiti, and other far-flung locales, they proved that the world really is a responsible designer’s oyster.
Top: Celeste pearl necklace in 14k Fairmined yellow gold with Tahitian pearls and clasp set with blue spinel from Nigeria, Yogo sapphires from Montana, and lab-grown diamonds, $10,200 CAD (about $7,397); MyelFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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