Discover The Alaria Collection's Sustainable Story
Working with Hong Kong-based designer Jeanine Hsu, founder of sustainable jewellery label niin, AENEA has explored new avenues in ethics and sourcing — and the Alaria collection is the stunning result.
Taking a closer look at Alaria, Jeanine talks with AENEA founder and creative director Costan Eghiazarian, sharing the stories behind her passion for responsible sourcing, from transforming waste materials into wonderful designs, to engaging environmental initiatives and teaming with local artisans.
From Waste to Wearable
Jeanine was inspired to create a sustainable jewellery label after a stint in the fashion industry. Having cared about the environment since a young age, she was left frustrated and saddened by the amount of waste the industry produced, and so decided to create her own brand where fashion, sculpture and responsible sourcing seamlessly merged.
“Utilising everyday by-products, I was able to create hand-crafted wearable art pieces and everyday chic eco-accessories, spreading a message of positivity and environmental sustainability under my own label, niin,” Jeanine explains.
Her sourcing was often serendipitous. A chance conversation with a wooden furniture producer on the subject of waste materials led to months of research and soon after connections with some of Asia's high-end furniture factories. “They kindly provided me with access to off-cuts from different varieties of treated woods, semi-precious stones and metals also used in the production process — and niin has featured these discarded elements in designs ever since,” she explains.
Soon after, from her base in Hong Kong, Jeanine was able to use its bustling restaurant trade for further upcycling. Hong Kong's insatiable appetite for shellfish means thousands of shells go to waste each day. “Working with some of Hong Kong's WWF registered sustainable seafood providers, I was able to collect the waste shells — mostly abalone, also known as mother of pearl — and take them away cleaning and treatment, before using them for the inlays in my jewellery.”
Creating sustainable jewellery isn't just about materials sourcing. The people that make the jewellery are also very important, and Jeanine’s journey has seen her support artisanal makers and their families in South East Asia. “I work with small-scale artisans for their incredible skills in hand crafting natural elements,” she explains. “It was important to not only support these small family operations, but also that they were understood my desire to work with second-hand, waste materials.”
“Jeanine has been truly inspiring for us,” says Costan. “Working together, we have carefully planned not only the design of each piece in the collection — a perfect merger of our organic and daring styles — but also taken time to think about the sourcing of the materials.”
Understanding that consumers are increasingly interested in the provenance of the materials used in jewellery and luxury goods, Costan and the AENEA team have now gained a license to use Fairtrade precious metals, bolstering their active approach to sourcing.
But here and now, the consideration that has gone into the creation of Alaria only enhances its beauty: conflict-free gemstones that shimmer like the sea, such as rainbow moonstones, white diamonds, aquamarines and pearls.
Beyond this, 5% of the sale of each piece in the Alaria collection will be donated to The Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation organisation that works to protect the world’s ecologically important lands and waters. Prices for the Alaria collection start at EUR 3,400.
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