Let It Hang

Keep It Cool with Summer’s Sexy, Sustainable Earrings
Getting fancy in the thick of summer’s heat can be a challenge. The key is to keep adornments simple and light—dresses that move, open-toed shoes and accessories that don’t add bulk.

Dramatic earrings that swing gently from the earlobes are an ideal way to dress up any warm-weather ensemble, from a tank top and jean cutoffs to a pretty summer frock. “I usually like to keep the emphasis in one area,” advises Joy Opfer, the designer behind the eco-friendly jewelry line Kyler Designs that’s a favorite with celebrities. “So if you are wearing dramatic earrings which tend to draw the eye up to the face, then choose a simple chain or two to accentuate the chest and neckline. Add a couple of thin cuffs or some simple bangles and skip big rings.”

Kyler Designs’ art-deco inspired duster earrings are long and fabulous, but their filigree designs and tiny hanging chain details mean they are light and easy to wear. The chain cascade earrings have been worn by actress Jessica Alba, and Kyler’s styles pair perfectly with this season’s crotchet and lace tops and dresses. Metal used for the earrings is both recycled and upcycled—i.e., made from scraps that would otherwise go to waste. “The graphic steel pendants are cut from metal sheets which have recycled content, and are also repurposed/upcycled scrap cuttings from industrial uses,” says Opfer. The company also plants a tree for each pair purchased and donates profits to needy organizations. The earrings even come packaged in a reusable bag.

Going Nuts

More impactful earrings are very on-trend this year, and whether you buy new or choose vintage, there are plenty of sustainable, sexy choices available at a variety of prices.

The tagua nut is the star of almost all of the Andean Collection’s pieces. This nut is not only a renewable resource, but provides an income to local pickers from the lowlands and rainforests of South America. According to the company’s site, “trees are not harmed and the commercialization of these seeds helps to ensure the survival of the world’s rainforests by providing an alternative income for its inhabitants in place of logging or selling their land to destructive industries.”

The nuts also pick up color beautifully, so the hooped earrings and disk-like danglers accented with delicate chains feature vibrant hues like sunset orange, teal and lavender. For the more delicate danglers, acai seeds (a byproduct of harvesting the berry for food) are combined elegantly with tasseled metal chains.

Something Borrowed

DLC Brooklyn (a.k.a. Dirty Librarian Chains) repurposes miles of unused metal chains called deadstock. Combining chains with vintage charms, the line has an edgy, modern look and is popular with indie rock stars and actresses alike.

Designer Lisa Salzer, behind the jewelry line Lulu Frost creates custom-made earrings from old baubles and one-of-a-kind pieces from antique jewelry she has thrifted, discovered or otherwise recovered from the sands of time.

As noted on the website for Kris Nations Jewelry, a pair of giant chandelier earrings made from reclaimed metals and glass is one of the best ways to distract from not-so-fabulous summer hair. And perhaps the three light tiers would create the slightest of breezes?

And if you must have diamonds, Ruff & Cut’s textured, ethically mined diamond drop earrings are understated stunners. Not only are the diamonds personally sourced from Sierra Leone through the company’s contact (the owner deals directly with the miners) and certified conflict-free, but 10% of the cost of all the company’s jewelry goes to nonprofit partners for projects like school-building and healthcare for the people who extract their jewels.

STARRE VARTAN is the founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick and author of The Eco-Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Press).