Beabond founder Ferelith Moltke on traceable diamonds, living arts and crafts and jewellery to protect nature and animals
Interview with Ferelith Moltke, founder of Beabond
Source & Copyright by Beabond
Source and Copyright by Beabond
Author: House of Eden
The jewellery industry is known for questionable working conditions, if not human rights violations, complex supply chains, and only quiet professions of sustainability. However, there is movement in the industry: Beabond stands for exactly the opposite. The jewellery brand follows the ethos of fewer but better things. Material traceability, carbon offsetting, made-to-order and close as well as supportive collaboration with charitable initiatives are therefore the pillars of the brand's work.
In our interview, founder Ferelith Moltke talks about responsible sourcing, ethical Botswana diamonds, rich tradition, and business models that are steering the jewellery industry toward both carbon neutrality and fairness.
Ferelith Moltke, Founderin Beabond / Source & Copyright by Iona Wolff
"We are living in a climate emergency and we need to be conscious consumers and citizens. For me personally, as a founder, this means to support causes that have a positive impact to people and the planet."
What inspired you to found Beabond?
I moved to Botswana ten years ago. Arriving in sub-Saharan Africa as a new mother was a pivotal moment for me and over the five years I lived in the country, I embraced living slower, building resilience and reconnecting to nature. Beabond was founded at a time when my heart and mind aligned. Created with a sense of purpose, Beabond is a way to collaborate with communities and support wildlife, as well as shine a light on the complexities of living as a mindful human being, living in balance with the world, whenever possible making a positive impact.
The name Beabond comes from my personal links to Africa. It is named after my maternal grandmother who was born and lived in Kenya.
How would you describe the Beabond philosophy in three sentences?
Our philosophy is ‘fewer better things’ . Our ethos is rooted in sustainability: Our beautifully handcrafted pieces are ethically sourced and climate positive. Each one a work of art to be cherished now and forever.
How do you overcome the challenges of responsible sourcing and what is behind "Botswanamark"?
Responsible sourcing is hugely important but still a challenge. The good news is that with the new EU ESG legislation coming into effect, and with greater transparency from fabrics to diamonds, it is easier to trace materials back to the source.
Having lived in Botswana for five years, I know the positive impact that diamonds have on the community and country as a whole. It was therefore an easy choice to feature Botswana diamonds in our jewellery; they are fully traceable, ethically mined and responsibly sourced.
Mokola Collection / Source & Copyright by Beabond
The benefits of working with Botswana diamonds extends beyond the conflict free label. Ethical diamonds means no human rights abuses, employees are fairly paid with safe working conditions and environmentally sound practices. Provenance is a cornerstone of Botswanamark with every diamond meticulously tracked at every stage from the mines in Botswana, through to the polishing process in Botswana and India, to the final customer. These are diamonds that make a measurable benefit to communities where there are unearthed.
Why are circular economy and recycling more important in fashion than in jewelry?
From the beginning, creating a business which holds sustainability at its core was a priority. Overall the goal is to be zero waste but some of the initiatives we have in place include transforming fabric off-cuts into accessories, our paper packaging is made with recycled materials and we have a second life initiative to repurpose clothes and return them to Botswana, donating to children in the communities we work with.
I think the reason why specifically recycling is not talked about a lot in the jewellery industry is because there is an inherit understanding that the materials we use can be recycled for eternity. The raw materials sourced from below ground will be around long after we are gone. I mean diamonds last for ever and gold can be refined infinite times. From a sustainability perspective there is a significant focus on looking at all aspects of the industry, the Watch & Jewellery Initiative XNUMX is paving the way for meaningful and long lasting change.
The bigger issue which exists in both fashion and jewellery, but is more visible in fashion, is overproduction and overconsumption. Just think of the mountains of unwanted clothes in landfills in the Atacama desert visible from space.
How does Beabond support the craft and guarantee ethical working conditions?
Living in Botswana, we have built personal relationships with all the artisans we collaborate and co-create with. One example is our collaboration with The Ngamiland Basket Weavers’ Trust, who specialize in handwoven baskets representing generations of indigenous knowledge skill and technique.
The weavers are descendants of the Hambukusku tribe from Angola, who fled as refugees in the 1960s and were later granted citizenship in Botswana. NBWT is a social enterprise whose mission is to empower women out of poverty whilst at the same time preserving Batswana’s rich culture and heritage in weaving and basket making. Each basket is much more than the finished product and is made with sustainably harvested Mokola Palms and grasses in the Delta and preparations of natural dyes using indigenous plants and roots. Weaving an open basket takes up to one month, understanding basket weaving as a living art allows you to appreciate the craftmanship, generational knowledge handed down the maternal line as well as the time it takes to make it.
NBWT Woven Basket Lamp / Source & Copyright by Beabond
We designed the Mokola jewellery collection in collaboration with and support of NBWT and 20% of proceeds are donated to the social enterprise.
What are the challenges for jewelry brands in implementing the concept of climate neutrality?
Achieving climate neutrality is challenging as the diamond and jewellery supply chains are often complex and lack transparency. The first stage is to understand where your materials are from, which will allow you to understand the environmental impact and consequently allow you to build a sustainability roadmap. So it is about finding partners who have fully traceable and transparent supply chains.
That’s why Botswanamark diamonds was an obvious choice. I can measure and understand both the handprint and footprint of these natural diamonds. But climate neutrality goes well beyond the products you produce, from what energy source you use to run your office and stores, to packaging and eliminating waste.
While we work on reducing our footprint, we offset our CO2 footprint of approximately 11 tons a year, through our wood burning stove initiative in the Okavango Delta. Our jewellery is made to order and we collaborate with charities and NGO’s supporting ecosystems and biodiversity.
Every Beabond jewelery collection celebrates nature and promotes a good cause - what is behind this philosophy?
I’m extremely grateful for having lived in Africa for five years reconnecting to nature, because I believe that our interconnectedness with nature is something we all need to experience. We are living in a climate emergency and we need to be conscious consumers and citizens. For me personally, as a founder, this means to support causes that have a positive impact to people and the planet.
In May we launched the DIRT x BEABOND Coco Collection to raise funds for DIRT, a UK Charity founded by environmental activist and model Arizona Muse that focuses on soil regeneration as a solution to the climate crisis. The Coco Collection symbolises a seed, ‘a source of life with unlimited potential’. The design's source material is the endangered Coco du Mer or ‘sea coconut’, indigenous to the Seychelles. It is the largest and heaviest seed in the world whose distinctive form is often associated with divine femininity. XNUMX% from each sale of the Coco collection go to one of DIRT’s projects: Kufunda a learning centre and eco-village in Zimbabwe practicing biodynamic farming their mission is to grow the biodynamic farming movement in the region.
Arizona Muse in DIRT x Beabond Necklace (Coco Locket) / Source & Copyright by Iona Wolff
Another collaboration inspired by a strong nature connection is our ECOEXIST x BEABOND collection. Living in Botswana, home to 130.000 elephants, for five years opened my eyes, ears and heart to the complicated topic of wildlife conservation. Knowing that a rapid decline in elephants could mean the world’s largest land mammal will disappear in my children’s or grandchildren’s lifetime was not something I could stand by and let happen. To date we have raised 3.000 euros for Ecoexist a small not-for-profit NGO in the Okavango Delta.
Many jewelry brands, especially for Fast Jewellery, are crossing the planetary boundaries instead of protecting them - why and how can they change?
I think this is a great question, which is very complex as the business models for fast jewellery - just like fast fashion - are built on a notion of newness, accessibility and high levels of dopamine inducing consumption. There are steps brands can take when it comes to the materials they source, from metals to precious stones. But even as the ‘products’ become more sustainable, I believe educating consumers about consumption impact will be crucial. We have to advocate a ‘responsible’ mindset or else we simply won’t have a healthy planet for future generations.
Do the same sustainability challenges also apply to other products such as interiors and children's clothing?
The philosophy of "fewer better things" applies to all aspects of Beabond. For jewellery, this means designing pieces intended to be modern heirlooms, something you will enjoy for many years and maybe hand on to the next generation. The same can be said for our interiors and our children’s collection, made in collaboration with artisans in Botswana. The challenges for us are that communities we work closely with are in extremely remote places in Botswana. So communication and transport of goods are big obstacles to overcome, especially viewed in the context of environmental footprint.
What is your vision for the future of Beabond?
We want to continue to speak to our community about where our inspiration comes from, about nature, soil, wildlife and artisans. Sharing how we can wear things that give back to the environment and communities more than they take away. I hope we can inspire other more established brands to be more ethical. I believe collaborating, sharing information and knowledge is key in businesses empowering each-other. The challenges can seem overwhelming and it’s time for everyone to come together to make a meaningful change.
Thank you for the interview, dear Ferelith!