By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
There’s no doubt that John Hardy is one of the world’s most prestigious ethical luxury jewellery producers.
The brand’s first partners, the descendants of the goldsmiths to the royal courts of Bali, were the basis of today’s partnership between designers and artisans. Together, they meld time-honoured jewellery-making techniques with fresh design to create John Hardy pieces.
Guy Bedarida, Head Designer and Creative Director of John Hardy, tells Eluxe more about the brand and its magnificent work in this exclusive interview.
Are there any differences between the Asian and European markets?
Oh yes, the Asian, European and American markets are very different – but there’s one thing which is universal – the appreciation from the soul and warmth of handcrafted jewellery, as well as the beautiful stories behind our collections.
Our brand is known for its exquisite craftsmanship as well as the authentic inspirations behind the designs. Every piece in our collections comes with a beautiful story. By telling these stories to our customers they learn about the amazing cultures and histories from around the world. These beautiful stories enhance the experience of wearing our jewellery.
For Asian customers, they generally prefer the petite, fine pieces while our American and European customers prefer the bold and dramatic designs.
What inspires your designs?
Today, I draw inspiration from of the natural world, the ancient arts, myths and architecture I see in my travels around the world. But it always comes down to the exquisite craftsmanship of the Balinese silversmiths who turn my wildest ideas into beautiful jewellery that become works of art in their amazing, magical hands.
Why is being eco-friendly a priority for the brand?
Being eco-friendly is an essential part of our brand philosophy. It all started on this magical island of Bali, where nature is such an important part of the Balinese lifestyle. When I first came here, I instantly fell in love with the island – it’s as if it has a soul. Since then, the nature in Bali has been the source of endless inspirations for our collections.
To allow our customers to participate in this meaningful cause, we started the Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo program, where we donate a certain number of bamboo seedlings to the communities in Bali for every piece sold from our Bamboo Collection.
If we had chosen the easy way, we could have bought some carbon credits somewhere – but planting bamboo in Bali is directly beneficial to the local people – it helps the environment and at the same time is of commercial value to the local farmers. The bamboos help to filter brackish water, prevent soil erosion and restore natural habitats..
Since then we have planted over 900,000 bamboo plants throughout Bali – that’s more than five times the size of Central Park in NYC. So every small step does count! And hopefully what we do will inspire more people, our employees, our customers and our business partners, to be eco-friendly too.
John Hardy uses many gemstones, like rubies and sapphires, which often notoriously come from troubled nations like Burma. How to you ensure these are ethically sourced?
When we source our materials for jewellery, we make sure the precious metals and stones are acquired with minimal impact to the environment and that they are obtained ethically and in compliance with human rights standards.
To minimise our impact on the natural environment, we use 100% recycled silver in all of our jewellery. As a naturally renewable and pure resource, silver can be recycled repeatedly with no degradation in quality, so recycled silver meets worldwide standards of purity without harming our environment.
Through our use of sustainably sourced materials and Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo initiative, we hope to remind our customers, as well as the industry that if we do it the right way, we can enjoy luxury without harming the planet or its inhabitants.
Tell us something about your CSR policies
Aside from our environmental efforts, we also strive to give back to the local communities in Bali in two big ways
We outsource part of our chain weaving to local women, especially single mothers and widows in nearby villages, so they can stay home and look after their children while generating an income that supports their family.
Additionally, our “Job for Life” program provides children from underserved communities in Bali with financial support that enables them to complete their education and with an internship on our compound in Bali that allows them to get a head start on their career. Aside from a basic training curriculum that covers English, information technology, personal finance management and health education, the children get to choose a mentor on the compound and choose their area of study from the departments including sales, information technology, jewellery design, production, human resources and even culinary arts with our in-house five-star chef. This way, we empower these children by giving them the skills they need for the career path the want.
We also believe that by taking good care of our employees, they will take care of us. So every employee on the compound has access to a health care facility and is served a daily organic lunch. This is probably one of the reasons why our turnover rate is very low – and how we are able to maintain very high standards of product quality. It’s really a win-win for all of us!
How does the John Hardy brand live by the company’s slogan “Greener Every Day”?
From using 100% recycled silver, sourcing alluvial gold, tracking the origins of our stones to implementing our Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo initiative, everyone at John Hardy has chosen to live with a consciousness about our impact on the planet.
Although we have planted more than 900,000 bamboos throughout Bali, we are not carbon-neutral yet. So aside from offsetting our carbon emission we are also looking into conserving – we are now exploring the possibility of using solar energy on our Bali compound!
While we are Greener Every Day And we always strive to do our best, we still believe there’s room for improvement.