Founder and designer of CLED sustainable jewellery, Seulye Jo, was inspired to create a sustainable jewellery brand to help reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
Find out why we think this brand is the future of luxury jewellery – when the design and end result is this good, why mine for diamonds when you can upcycle waste into beautiful gems?
When I was coming up with the name for the brand, I wanted it to stand for upcycling but also show that it can be beautiful and luxurious as well. So after many pages of listing words and not finding the right one, I looked at the words recycled and upcycled, and the last four letters just looked nice and easy to say so that’s how I found CLED.
I also wanted it to be a meaningful acronym: Conscious Lifestyle Earth Friendly & Ethical Design. These words reflect our beliefs and mission in being a sustainable and vegan brand. We believe in the circularity of goods, as we continuously reuse objects and transform them into new products.
How does your care for the environment influence the brand?
From a young age, I just loved dogs and all animals, which led me to be vegetarian and then vegan a few years ago. Being vegan made me aware of the many social and environmental issues we are facing today. The impact we have on the earth and environment affected me deeply and I wanted to have a brand that was sustainable and did not cause harm to the earth and animals. This is how CLED came about.
I always wanted to make a sustainable jewellery brand but didn’t want to use any mined gemstones that are generally used in the jewellery industry. I also didn’t want to use plastics and animal materials. Plastics like acrylic, resin, polymer clay and PVC are commonly used but are harmful to the environment when manufactured. Plastic jewellery is used a few times before the quality weakens, and it cannot be recycled at the end of its life. It ends up in landfill where it does not decompose, thereby creating waste.
Various animal-derived materials are used in jewellery like pearl, shell, feathers, leather, horn and even bones. Using completely animal-free materials was important to me, as a vegan, to be sustainable. This limited the materials I could use so I thought of glass, but I didn’t want to buy new glass or materials either and the best option was recycled glass. Glass is easy to be found and can be recycled endlessly without a loss in quality or purity. It has various shapes and colours and has no harmful effects. I thought it would be great if waste could be turned into beautiful objects.
Other than upcycling to create jewellery, do you have any other tips for upcycling items in the home or office?
We love to upcycle and reuse everything! Any packaging we receive we reuse as, for example, gift boxes or containers in our studio to hold eco gems, materials, office supplies and more. Empty glass jars are used as containers in my kitchen and home.
One project I did at home was to turn a glass bottle into a bird feeder by cutting a hole on the side, and a chipped plate I no longer used was added at the bottom of the bottle as the base for the feeder. My used coffee grounds are fertiliser for my vegetable garden. You can be creative in finding items to upcycle. I believe almost anything can be reused and remade with a new purpose.
What are your favourite materials to reuse and upcycle in producing jewellery?
Waste! I love seeing the transformation process from one’s trash turned into treasure! We only use recycled glass and recycled solid sterling silver in our jewellery.
In the design and crafting process, we aim to ensure that no metal or material goes to waste. The glass we use is predominantly wine and liquor bottles obtained from a few restaurants in Los Angeles, as well as used cosmetic bottles.
We call the glass gems in our pieces “Eco Gems”, as they are made from recycled glass and can replace traditional gemstones without any harmful effects to the environment. And as much as we can, we use second-hand or refurbished equipment in our studio. We ensure that the equipment passes our quality check before purchasing and using.
Do you have an all-time favourite piece of jewellery you’ve created?
I love all the jewellery I’ve created for CLED! I wear all of our jewellery, from simple to statement pieces, depending on my mood that day. My favourites are the Marble Drop Hoop Earrings and Opening Necklace, which has our signature torus….incidentally these are the two pieces that drew Content founder, Imelda, to stock the brand – ‘The Marble Drop Hoop Earrings were the first item I purchased from our new store. The necklace is next on my list!’
I like the earrings since they’re made to be worn two ways, with or without the marble eco gem. A lot of people ask what stone the marble is made out of but when I tell them it’s recycled glass bottles, they’re so surprised and like it even more!
I love the Opening Necklace as I like to wear statement pieces with just jeans and a t-shirt. It makes me feel a little dressed up without putting much effort in!
We love that each CLED product is handmade. Whose hands are crafting the pieces?
We are currently a team of two running CLED. My partner helps me on the business side of things and I focus on designing and crafting. Between the two of us we do everything, from picking up bottles from the restaurants, cleaning and cutting the glass to be used, designing and crafting the jewellery, checking emails, processing orders, marketing… It doesn’t end!