Surf Sustainably: The Kitty Hawk Collection by Emily P. Wheeler



Although I grew up in New York, I consider myself a Carolina girl through and through, it being the place I struck out on my own, attended college, got married, and lived. Though we no longer reside there, I’m thankful to have our family there as an excuse to always visit “home.”

Emily P Wheeler Moon necklace
Moon necklace in 18k yellow and white gold with petrified wood and diamonds, $6,800

So when I learned that Emily P. Wheeler’s new collection was called Kitty Hawk—the name of a town on North Carolina’s Outer Banks—I loved it without even seeing it first. Of course, it looks amazing; what I have learned of Emily P. Wheeler in the short amount of time I’ve become familiar with her work is that everything she touches is positively brilliant, electric, buoyant, and downright cheerful. Her jewelry makes me just feel good to see, and what more can we ask of our jewelry than that?

Emily P Wheeler Drift earrings
Drift earrings in 18k yellow and white gold with 104 cts. t.w. boulder opal, 1.65 cts. t.w. diamonds, and paraiba, $14,800

I can’t say I have any experience windsurfing, but give me any sort of beach culture involving neon colors and I’m probably in. It’s funny how the suggestion of this era brings to mind forgotten tidbits of my childhood—my dad’s neon wayfarers and shoelaces, mom’s cutoff shorts and white tennis shoes, the boardwalk of somewhere in Cape Cod (this memory reel is all set to Don Henley singing “Boys of Summer,” obviously).

Emily P Wheeler Swell necklace
Swell necklace in 18k rose gold with petrified palm wood, ombré pink sapphire baguettes, and diamonds, $4,800

Wheeler has brought this all to light through her work. From a press release about these one-of-a-kind pieces: “The materials used for Kitty Hawk reflect the colors and textures of life at the beach in the ’80s. Besides shapes echoing the windsurfing boards and sails themselves, electric turquoise mimics the sky, organic palm wood reflects the coastline, opals sparkle like sea-foam in the sunshine, and ombré spinels are like a summer sunset.”

Emily P Wheeler Sun Glitter earrings
Sun Glitter earrings in 18k yellow and white gold with removable 27.67 cts. t.w. opal drops, pink tourmaline trillions, and diamonds, $14,400

As for a description of the collection, this is where I leave you. You don’t need me to wordsmith my way through this one to fall under its spell—it’s spectacular. However, there is more than meets the eye about this line that should get your heart racing faster than a windsurfer’s: Wheeler has implemented new ethical practices into her work for 2020, beginning with this collection—only 100% recycled gold is being used in its creation, and the designer has vowed to reuse and recycle packaging and reduce yearly travel. The designer is in the midst of earning her certification with the Responsible Jewellery Council, the U.K.-based organization that sets forth a series of best-practice sustainability standards for jewelers to meet.

Emily P Wheeler mirror cut aquamarine ring
Mirror cut ring in 14k yellow gold with 18.38 ct. aquamarine and 1.4 cts. t.w. diamonds, $12,000

“For me it doesn’t feel like a choice, as much as a necessity, to make better choices and do better,” says Wheeler of her efforts to run her business sustainably. “Our world is simply dying, and the least I can do is make changes in my personal and professional life to reduce my impact. It’s also becoming increasingly important to my customer to know where materials are coming from and how they are made. I want to do right by her.”

Emily P Wheeler Horizon earrings
Horizon earrings in 18k yellow gold with Arizona turquoise, peridot, and 0.89 ct. t.w. diamonds, $8,400

These are jewels you can feel good about, and not just because they look amazing. That’s rad.

Find out more about Emily P. Wheeler in the November/December issue of JCK.

Top: Ocean earrings in 18k white gold with tanzanite cabochons, turquoise, and diamonds, $16,000; Emily P. Wheeler

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