Mention ecologically sustainable and socially responsible practices in industry and consumerism these days, and the subject typically turns to autos, energy sources and construction. Why worry about an inconsequential thing like an earring or a wedding band? According to designer Gwendolyn Davis, who has just launched Verde, her eco-friendly fashion jewelry line, worry we should and must. For her, the fact that the production of one gold ring can generate 20 tons of mine waste is cause enough for worry and reason enough for a grass roots reform movement in the 40 billion dollar jewelry industry.

Following the precept of Gandhi, “Be the change that you want to see in the world”, Ms. Davis has dedicated her life to introducing a little change in the way we think about and create fine jewelry and other luxury items.

A first in the industry, her line combines natural, recycled and sustainable materials with innovative and often radical design technology. The result of her efforts is nothing less than a new category in jewelry making: Green.

For Davis, creating a unique design that is consumer friendly (read “stunning to look at”) as well as sustainable isn’t going far enough. Take, for instance, her use of Tagua nuts. Known as “vegetable ivory”, they grow in Peru and Ecuador and look and behave just like real ivory. They are harvested after they fall from the tree, so they are 100% sustainable. Demand for them offers South American farmers an alternative to growing Coca. And using them as an alternative to ivory reduces demand for the real thing, which is good news for the elephants and rhinos. Verde will also contribute a portion of the proceeds to the “Adopt an Elephant” program.

Behind everything Verde creates is a concept termed “Elemental Design”. It employs a totally organic approach to creativity and draws as its inspiration the philosophies and methods of ancient and indigenous peoples all over the world. Earth, Fire, Water and Air are the elemental forces that go into the designs – combined with materials found in the abundance of nature. The centerpiece to the Verde line is the total transformation, via this process, of what we once knew as bamboo. Her friends call Gwendolyn Davis “The Bamboo Whisperer”, and one look at one of her bamboo creations will explain why.

You can see the Verde collection by visiting http://www.gwen-davis.com

This blog post was contributed by Christopher Cuthrell.