Accessorizing Sustainably with Cled
One of our favorite jewelry brands is also one of the most sustainable! So how does CLED (which stands for Conscious Lifestyle Earth Friendly & Ethical Design) create gorgeous, high-end jewelry from upcycled materials? We asked founder and designer Seulye Jo to share their eco secrets.
JO: Our jewelry is made from discarded glass bottles. We source these glass bottles from local restaurants in Los Angeles, cosmetic brands, and from friends who give us their empty bottles. This is a step up from digging through recycling bins in our apartment complex when we first formed CLED! Besides using recycled glass, about 70 percent of our metals are recycled and sourced from US refiners.
Our distinction is the materials used. With material circularity in mind, our raw source is discarded glass bottles. CLED is free from animal materials, plastics, and extracted gemstones from the earth. And instead of buying stones and components from suppliers, all our glass upcycled eco gems are made from scratch in our LA studio.
It’s challenging to create eco gems. Using various recycled glass means bottles all melt at different temperatures to generate the desired shapes. There can be limitations in designing, but it makes me be more creative and I often end up with unexpected results.
With every new collection, a significant amount of time is involved as we need to consider both metalsmithing and glasswork. Once metalsmithing is finished, I incorporate solid metals and molten fluid glass. The combination of these two materials brings abstract and unique characteristics. I spend most of the time testing and annealing [the process of heating and cooling glass to harden it] glass to get the design I had in mind. This process starts from purifying bottles to cutting, drilling, melting, annealing, polishing, and finally assembling with metal parts. By upcycling, we show that discarded materials can be reborn into something you would never expect, and no two eco gems are alike. I love this work and it pushes me to think differently and find new ways to design and make jewelry.
As for the designs and collections, they are inspired by nature and my everyday life. Whether it be from traveling, going to Home Depot (one of my favorite stores!), catching a sunset, or going to an art exhibit. I find that the most ordinary activities are the spark for the theme of our collections.
Overall, I think it’s worth it to do the research on the brands and products you are looking to buy. Most times, that cheap item will not last long and will end up in the landfill. Instead, buy goods made from eco-friendly materials that will last and the quality will show. And just ask yourself, do I really need this? Will I still wear and use this in a year? Or five or ten years? No one is perfect but we can all try to make a small change in how we shop.