Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Woolly Mammoth Ivory Diamond Necklace
Opened to the public just seven years ago in 2004 is the U.S. National World War II Memorial.  Located in Washington, D.C.’s National Mall it is described by some as “evocative of federal architecture during the New Deal Period.” 

The site boasts majestic pillars with arches that encompass a plaza and fountain.  Washington, D.C. is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Monique Péan. 

Making sure that materials are ethically sourced is not a passing fad in the jewelry industry it is a steadily growing movement.  Concern for the environment and the working conditions of workers who dig for precious metal and gemstones have weighed on the minds of many jewelry makers long before such concerns became in vogue.

The designer jewelry of Coll Smith (England), L.A.-based designer Micha Kuechenhoff (Germany) and California-based brand LITTER are rooted in repurposing the parts of old, discarded jewelry into fashionable, stylish baubles.

Designers Lori Bonn (USA),  Choo Yilin (Singapore) and Alberto Parada (South America) lessen their carbon footprint by implementing recycled 18-karat gold or sterling silver as well as conflict free diamonds, and fair trade gemstones.

A one-time investment banker for Goldman Sachs, Péan fell in love with the handicrafts of various cultures including Bali, Egypt and Russia as she traveled the globe with her father—an employee of the United Nations—during her youth. 

Of Haitian and Jewish parentage, Péan developed a unique perspective on fine jewelry.  She not only wanted to design great, wearable pieces but to also ensure that the designs would be unlike traditional fine jewelry both in appearance and composition.

“My Bering Collection draws inspiration from Alaska Native culture and its traditional adaptation of rare and exotic materials,” explains Péan.  “All of my collections are made entirely of eco-friendly, sustainable and conflict free materials.
Gemstone Ring from Fall 2011 Collection

I collaborate with Alaska Native Eskimos to combine walrus, caribou, baleen and woolly mammoth ivory with conflict and devastation free diamonds from Australia to create an entirely original fine jewelry line.  I aspire to raise awareness of Alaska Native art and culture.

Ten percent of the sale proceeds from the Bering Collection go to support Alaska Native arts and culture and to train the next generation of Alaska’s Native artists.”

In the same vein, her collection in collaboration with non-profit organization Charity: Water was developed to assist the water purification process in “impoverished communities in developing countries.”

“In a nod to pure water, this collection moves between browns and blues to glistening clear colors. Each piece of jewelry is unique, handmade and made with 100% recycled gold.  Believe it or not there is enough recycled gold in the world right now to create jewelry for the next twenty years.”

Her aesthetic is elegant and tribal where naturally shed buffalo horn earrings and a woolly mammoth tusk cuff bracelet hold intricate textures of scrimshaw offset by tiny white diamonds.  There is also a stunning, chunky gemstone necklace of Moorea Tourmaline, and gorgeous natural gemstone rings lightly peppered with diamonds.

Make no mistake this is an expensive, high-end jewelry line and no doubt Péan’s name has been uttered within elite circles of the socially conscious.  As a matter of fact, First Lady Michelle Obama wore various pieces including bone earrings, and ivory cuff and bangle bracelets during her visit last year to Mexico City, Mexico for Earth Day.
Fossilized Woolly Mammoth Cuff
Bracelet with Carved Waves and
Inlay Diamonds

Péan’s ambitious and magnanimous undertaking has not gone without recognition.  

In 2009, her then three-year-old brand, Monique Péan Fine Jewelry, was named a runner-up by the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.   That same year Péan also received the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award
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