At Martha Stewart Weddings, we love discovering things that are both ecologically considerate and beautiful. So it's no surprise that we've fallen hard for the jewelry by New York City designer Monique Pean. Her collection of engagement rings and wedding bands feature conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold. Here, I chat with her about her inspiration and why eco jewelry is so important.
Me: Why did you start designing?
Monique Pean: My husband proposed without a ring because he wanted to let me choose my own. I wanted an antique stone set in recycled platinum but found there weren’t many chic and sustainable options out there. That plus my friends' requests for engagement-ring designs sparked the idea to start my own Atelier collection.
Me: Your bridal designs and the materials you use are so unique. Can you tell me more about them?
MP: My signature materials are fossilized woolly mammoth and walrus ivory, antique gems, and old, hand-cut diamonds. Their tones, asymmetrical shapes, and imperfections give them such a personal, intimate nature -- a perfection all their own that new machine-cut stones can't match.
Me: Why is using environmentally and socially conscious materials (and production processes) important to you?
MP: It’s shocking, but the production of one gold ring generates 20 tons of waste. Instead, I use recycled gold and platinum in all my pieces. Believe it or not, there's actually enough recycled gold in the world right now to create jewelry for the next 20 years. Also, proceeds from the sale of each Atelier piece go to providing clean drinking water to 20 people in at-risk communities for the next 20 years. It's a collaboration with Partners in Health.