The following article is from a series of interviews conducted by LIM College students with sustainability leaders whose companies are members of the Accessories Council.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting virtually with Kimberly Haisch, founder and CEO of KBH Jewels. KBH is a fine jewelry company with an environmentally conscious approach to diamonds and gold, to create timeless pieces and heirlooms to pass on for generations. When discussing sustainability in the fashion industry, jewelry is often left without a seat at the table. KBH has set out to change that narrative and lead this sector of the industry in the right direction.
Why Sustainable Jewelry? Growing up, Kimberly’s mother owned a small jewelry company; this is where it all started for her. She admired the meaning and virtue behind a quality accessory, that it represents love and lasts forever. The problem she saw? Mining the earth is the opposite of love, and without circular practices, cannot go on forever. As environmental awareness has grown over the years, and Kimberly became a mother, she started looking for the safest options for her family. Buying organic foods, shopping for sustainable apparel, and supporting local businesses for other non-toxic goods. The one thing she couldn’t find a safe option for? Jewelry—which she was already passionate about and experienced in.
Kimberly’s love for her children, passion for sustainability, and appreciation for fine jewelry birthed KBH. From the beginning, it has been Kimberly’s mission to ensure circular, socially conscious, and environmentally friendly practices in her business. She wanted it to be right from the beginning.
The Importance of Being Mine-Free At KBH, all gold is recycled, and all diamonds are grown. According to the U.S. Environmental Protector Agency Toxic Release report, metal mining is the number one toxic polluter in the U.S. Additionally, mining often involves labor that does not meet KBH’s ethical standards, and emits toxic mercury.
Animals also play a large part in Kimberly’s sustainable vision—mining displaces animals, destroys their habitats, and emits harmful chemicals. Though animals typically play a different role in the sustainability conversation, such as in the fur and leather debates, KBH takes all environmental factors into consideration when selecting practices. Kimberly founded her company to pass on a legacy of love to her children, for their health and the planet’s, so preserving biodiversity was nonnegotiable.
Fact Check: Lab Diamonds are Real Diamonds Traditional diamond mining disrupts 400 lbs of earth, roughly 10 city blocks, to mine a 1-carat diamond. In recognition to these dysfunctional practices, Kimberly opted for lab-grown diamonds. Contrary to what many may assume, lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds, chemically and physically. The upside to a lab-grown diamond is no earth disruption, no animal displacement.
My discussion with Kimberly was truly eye opening, a great reminder that no sector of the industry is an environmental exception. By creating a company that recycles gold, grows diamonds, and packages with post-consumer material, Kimberly has created a sustainable fine jewelry company, setting an example for her sector. KBH Jewels has set a high standard, and by growing her business with integrity and organically, Kimberly Haisch is sure to grow as a leader in fine jewelry and sustainability.