It seems fitting that Sarah Graham is based in San Francisco. No, she doesn't roam The Haight weaving string necklaces or beading hair, but the jewelry designer does work with locally grown hemp and 100 percent recycled gold, and derives her design ideas from the outdoors.
"Nature is a huge inspiration for me," said Graham, president and designer of Sarah Graham Metalsmithing. "We cast a lot from nature, so people will bring me a leaf or something really beautiful and unique and say, 'I want this made for me.' It's great because half the design is already done for me."
Graham started her firm nine years ago and has since become involved in the recycled metal movement. All of the 18-karat gold and steel she uses in her collections comes from recycled pieces. She sources all her metals from refineries, and then creates her pieces with the melted gold and steel. Anything she doesn't use, she sends back.
"There's so much gold out there already," said Graham. "It just makes sense. We should all be doing it. Gold mineries are simply not great for the environment."
Alex and Ani creator and designer Carolyn Rafaelian also uses 100 percent recycled metal for her contemporary jewelry line, as well as any private label work she does for brands such as Arden B. and Bebe. Based in Rhode Island, Rafaelian works out of the same factory her father did when he manufactured jewelry in 1966. "We have very strict guidelines," said Rafaelian. "Nothing is wasted or dumped or eliminated. It's about the integrity of the product."
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