Sustainability matters to supermodel and new mom Ashley Graham. And it’s a big part of the reason she’s the new ambassador for Pandora’s sustainable, lab-grown mine-free diamonds.
“Before I had my kid, people told me my life was going to change and it did – it changed immensely,” plus-size supermodel Ashley Graham told Harper’s Bazaar in a recent interview. “I’ve never been a ‘buy for the sake of buying’ type of girl, but it really makes you realise that being more thoughtful and conscious in our choices is something we all have to do together. It’s much more about our environmental legacy now.”
Children are a common reason people embrace sustainability—the ethos of leaving the planet better than you found it. It’s also one of the reasons the diamond industry has come under attack—mining companies have historically used child labor throughout Africa’s mines, even though it’s largely illegal like it is for the cocoa industry. The coronavirus saw an uptick in children working in the diamond industry as schools were forced to shut down.
A report published last December by the International Peace Information Services found an increase of 50 percent in children working in more than 100 different mines across the Central African Republic. But the numbers could be higher as many of the mines are controlled by armed militia who control more than 60 percent of the country.
And while they’re typically not cheap at retail, diamond mining doesn’t pay well for most of the workers, especially children, some of whom make little more than the equivalent of one meal—backbreaking digging or hours of polishing for little pay keep most in the industry well below the poverty line.
Indistinguishable to the naked eye, Pandora’s new Brilliance collection takes the mines out of the diamond industry, using techniques seen across food and fashion with lab-grown bio-identical diamonds—no child labor involved. These are carbon-based diamonds held to the same standards as mined gems in terms of cut, color, clarity, and carat.
“Making sustainable jewellery and fashion choices is such a simple, yet important way, we can all make a positive difference,” Graham told Bustle. “I love the empowering message of this collection. To me, the products symbolise infinite possibilities and growth, and the belief that we all have the strength within us to transform our lives. I also love how Pandora is making diamond jewellery more accessible for everyday wear.”
Accessible indeed. The new collection starts at £250 ($354 USD).
For Graham, diamonds are a natural extension of the sustainable ethos she’s now embracing in all facets of her life from her wardrobe to her use of plastic to generally consuming less.
“Definitely think twice about whether you really need something. You might see an item in a store or online that you really want and have an urge to get it, but being more sustainable to me is about only buying things that you genuinely love and treasure,” she told Harper’s. “When you’re shopping online, some companies will have pop-up windows that say, ‘Hurry, you only have 10 minutes to buy this’, but don’t give in to that pressure. If you’re only buying it because time is running out, you didn’t really want it in the first place.”
Shop Pandora’s new Brilliance collection here.