Sustainability in clothing is widely discussed but the same concerns are rarely imagined when it comes to jewellery and accessories. Environmental concerns in the jewellery sphere include toxic metal mining and manufacturing processes that can leave a large footprint behind. Amsterdam-based jeweller-goldsmith Eva Van Kempen tackles this problem by converting it into a point of distinction for her brand. Upcycling discarded materials and recycling precious metals, along with the use of safe medical waste combined with traditional goldsmithing materials and techniques make this jewellery brand one-of-a-kind. Deriving inspiration from diverse sources ranging from the natural world, Art Nouveau, the jewels of René Lalique and ancient goldsmithing techniques such as filigree, to the achievements of the medical world and political and societal issues like reproductive rights, Eva van Kempen makes unique jewellery indeed.
“My aim is to invite people to look with new eyes and find saving beauty instead of the expected fear. I also like to provoke thought in a male-dominated society.”
While being treated with chemotherapy, Eva discovered the value and beauty of manmade medical materials that are perfectly designed to save people. As she saw the number of unused materials discarded in hospitals, she started to collect safe waste like outdated intravenous tubes and rejected syringes and needles. By adding precious metals and pearls that a goldsmith usually uses, valuable jewels began to form.
“The medical systems that are currently being used in hospitals will most likely be conceived as ‘ancient’ within twenty years due to its rapid improvement and constant development. Therefore I think that these works sketch a controversial portrait of this era, by inviting viewers to look with new eyes to our achievements of the medical world, as well as to our human and cultural deficiencies like pollution and inequality in revolutionary times of “me too”.”
While her work includes collections, commissions and conceptual pieces, she also crafts jewels in fairminded or fairtrade gold, an initiative that is beneficial to artisanal and small-scale miners and their communities.
“I believe that the only way that fast fashion can be reduced is if consumers change their buying behaviour. It’s like the meat industry, by creating demand for alternatives for meat, producers follow. Sustainable fashion makes people re-evaluate their choices and hopefully change their consuming behaviour, which ultimately will have a positive effect on fast fashion”
Delicate, traditional and yet innovative, Eva van Kempen is a brand that proves creative inspiration can emerge from anywhere, including what is seemingly waste and has the ability to transform the world around us.