Bal Harbour

Spring 2016

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hile diamonds and rare stones are surely enough to build a signature jewelry brand, Monique Péan has a taste for the slightly more exotic. As a eco-jewelry designer, she's more the type to wade in arctic waters to pluck out fossilized walrus ivory or skim the Colorado Plateau for hidden dinosaur bones—such as for her latest collection, Solcin, which was derived from her discoveries in Utah. Since the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund recipient formed her company in 2006, fossilized materials have become staples across her nearly dozen collections. These unique "stones," in exquisitely geometric designs, have found their way onto the likes of Michelle Obama, Liya Kebede, Natalie Portman and many other famous faces who use their celebrity for a higher cause. Péan's latest offerings for spring emerged from her explorations into "Utah's rich paleontological history, varied topography and remote works of land art," says Péan, who cites artist Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels and septarians—a gemstone dating to the Cretaceous Period—as inspiration. It seems like travel plays a large role in the development of your collections. Can you tell us what you're after? I constantly seek to interact with contemporary art and architecture and veer off the beaten path to explore the natural world. The shapes, textures and color palettes I come across in my travels always translate differently into my designs, which keeps the creative process new. How do you decide where to travel for discovery? My commitment to sustainable materials has led me to partner with artisans globally to support traditional craftsmanship, slow design and cultural heritage. We work with artisans from areas including the Arctic Circle, Colombia, French Polynesia, Guatemala, Peru and the Philippines. Can you tell us about your latest collection, which resulted from your travels to the Southwest? I was excited to visit Utah's national parks and land art, traversing the state from corner to corner. My latest collection, Solcin, is inspired by Utah's abundant sunlight—solis—along with the geographic location of Lucin, Utah, where landscape and art merge symbiotically at the site of Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels. Contemporary art has always been a source of inspiration for me. Can you tell us how you discovered your core materials and how they continue to develop in your collections. Fossilized walrus ivory is the first material that I ever worked with, after being introduced to it on a trip to Shishmaref, Alaska, in 2006. The naturally broken fragments of fossilized materials we use float to the surface as ice melts in the Arctic Circle. This has become a signature of my brand, and it is incredible to work with fossils that are between 10,000 and 150,000 years old. Being an eco-company, what do you want to see changed in the industry? I would love to see more widespread use of recycled gold. Gold mining is an environmentally destructive process that releases significant amounts of cyanide, lead and mercury into local water sources. Mining enough gold for one wedding band can produce more than 20 tons of waste. There is already enough gold available to last the jewelry industry for decades to come. OLD BONES, NEW TRICKS W Monique Péan's social consciousness informs her fossilized fine jewelry creations. BY JULIE BAUMGARDNER 116 BAL HARBOUR The azurite and white diamond oval ring from Pean's Solcin collection is made from recycled 18-karat white gold.

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