We’re always searching for ethical jewelry brands that dedicate themselves to thoughtful sourcing, fair wages, and give-back initiatives that truly have an impact. Whether it’s a thoughtful addition to our own wardrobe, or a sustainable gift our loved ones, jewelry is an accessory that we can (and do) cherish for a lifetime.
So, we’ve found one of our favorite jewelry brands that pair their values with a dedication to quality and style. Whether it’s sustainably ending cycles of poverty through employment, upholding traditional craft techniques, or sourcing fair-mined gold and other materials, AMANDA PEARL is a brand that matches your values.
Sustainable luxury accessories brand
New York-based Amanda Pearl Brotman is the founder and designer of AMANDA PEARL, a sustainable luxury accessories brand whose aesthetic is a study in dualities, creating a truly modern sensibility and approach to fashion.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Amanda’s childhood was both full of culture and the arts, and the freedom to explore the wild outdoors. Twelve years studying and performing with Pacific Northwest Ballet instilled an unerring discipline and sharp attention to aesthetic detail, which was tempered by her ceaseless curiosity about the natural world.
Constantly pushing boundaries, Amanda left for NYC where she received a degree in Art History and Visual Arts from Barnard College. After a tenure at Marc Jacobs, in the technical design and production departments, Amanda brought her experience to Erin Fetherston’s womenswear label, where she was Collection Director, before decamping to launch AMANDA PEARL.
Amanda is settled in NYC with her husband and boys, but still considers the Pacific Northwest ‘home’ – drawing upon its stunning natural beauty and innovative spirit as inspiration for her work.
Amanda won the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award for her handbag designs and was most recently a finalist in the fine jewelry category.
What inspired you to start AMANDA PEARL?
Entrepreneurship in a creative field always seemed pre-destined for me. Since I was a kid, I was always making things and trying to sell them. I figured it was inevitable that I’d have a fashion company of my own, but I didn’t know exactly what my product would be. After graduating college while I was looking for a job, I began making and selling small evening bags out of vintage fabrics and beads I’d collected. However, I knew I needed to get some real experience before really launching my own thing. After a number of years working for Marc Jacobs and learning how it all worked, I finally made the jump to launch AMANDA PEARL. It was a great time for my product, as the only name in the clutch game was Judith Leiber.
Tell us about your design style. What makes your collections unique in the industry?
The collections are inspired by my aesthetic and cultural influences from growing up in the Pacific Northwest (although I’ve lived in NYC for 20 [gulp] years, Seattle will always be home). From natural elements found while exploring the wild outdoors, to the fierce and feminine fluidity from my years studying and performing with the ballet… coming of age in the hotbed of ‘90s “grunge”, in the tech nerdy city that is a center for innovation, where nature, sustainability, and “doing the right thing” are just how we roll. What results is an aesthetic that is a study in dualities – a truly modern sensibility and approach to jewelry and adornment.
Besides the uniqueness of the designs, AMANDA PEARL stands out because we are a small, women-run, New York City-based accessories company making sustainable and ethically sourced jewelry locally. We stand out most especially because we have rebelled against the traditional retail model, cutting out the middleman and traditional 10x markup, bringing luxury accessories directly to the consumer at real, fair prices. (Read: we don’t offer discounts because we don’t inflate our costing to allow for them.) We offer the best prices every day of the year – with a 10% give-back to a different cause each quarter.
What kind of person wears your jewelry?
Our customer is a conscious consumer who is excited to be buying items that are not mass-produced, found in every department store, and widely worn. They look for designs that have a point of view and a story, that are ethically made by human-run businesses that operate in line with their beliefs. They spend their money on items that they have discovered, that are meaningful to them, curating their own style without the help of a sponsored ad. Our customer aims to buy fewer things, with more meaning.
As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Nature. I’m endlessly inspired by nature. Whether it’s the quill of a sea urchin, the colors of a stark desert landscape, or the concept of the power of a wave, I will never tire of looking to nature to inform and inspire.
What are the upcoming trends in the jewelry design industry?
I’m really excited about ethical, unmined diamonds, and that people are embracing them. They have the same optical, chemical, thermal, and physical features, and are completely unique, as mined stones are, yet don’t have the same environmental and social impact of mining. I am thrilled to be able to include them in our collections and help educate our customers about the power of their conscious consumerism.
Managing everything, how do you stay sane and happy?
Sigh… I perpetually feel on the brink. (Kidding! Sort of…) I definitely try to eke out some quiet time. Some alone time. That’s way easier said than done these days, but it’s of paramount importance to my personal regulation. I try to eat well, sleep well, exercise and meditate. And make time to get out and do things that make my heart sing – whether it’s seeing a favorite band with a friend, going to a museum exhibition, or finding some nature to sit in.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Trust your gut. That b*tch knows what’s up.
If you had an extra 6 hours in your day, what would you do?
OMG, this is my absolute fantasy. I know this is the wrong answer, but I would get a little more done at work (1 hour). I would sleep more (1 hour). I would put more time into meditation, exercise, and stretching (1 hour). I would read more (1 hour). I would take more time to create (1 hour). Oops, I should probably spend a little more time with my husband and children as well, but you get the idea…
Do you believe in destiny or do you think you can control your fate?
I think certain things might be predestined, but that we have free will and therefore a lot of control in between those signposts.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
My failures have generally all been in regard to two things:
1) Not heeding what my gut was saying.
2) Feeling shy about self-promotion or asking for things.
Both come down to a certain level of confidence that was lacking in my earlier years of building this business. I think I felt like I needed to stay within the well-worn lines for how things were done, heeding to perceived power hierarchies between press or buyers and new designers. I was very much aware of my place as a “nobody” new designer who was making it up as she went along on a shoestring, and was much too quiet about what I was doing. What I wish I had realized earlier on is that we’re all just people fulfilling our place in the fashion ecosystem and that you really can “fake it until you make it”. Pretending that I belonged and that everyone should pay attention to me would’ve likely gone a long way!
Along similar lines, I didn’t listen to my gut as much as I should have when it came to positioning in the market and making shifts in my business away from how everyone else was doing things. Don’t get me wrong – I could hear what my gut was saying, and behind closed doors, I’d be so sure of myself, but when it came to doing anything about it in an outward-facing way, I felt too small to be able to successfully make those moves. I felt like I had to fit into how the market and industry were moving in order to get ahead.
But, I learned. I adapted. I grew. And now I’m fully confident in my voice, outlook, and ability to make moves in this business.