Kimberly Berry Haisch on Creating Sustainable Jewelry
- Written By:Allie Rose
KBH Jewels’ Founder & CEO, Kimberly Berry Haisch, started her niche luxury jewelry brand as a way to introduce elevated basics and modern essentials. Each piece from the collection is made using only environmentally and socially conscious diamonds. We sat down with Haisch to talk about her career, sustainability and creating modern heirlooms.
How did your path lead you to design jewelry?
There are several different facets of my life that brought me down this path towards designing jewelry. My mother has had a long term love affair with diamonds and my father had a career in finance, but was a buyer in a fashion store while he was putting himself through school. After college, I followed in my father’s footsteps and went into finance, but it was short-lived because it wasn’t where my heart was.
I eventually made my way to Bobbi Brown Cosmetics to help oversee the international markets and launch the brand in various countries. It gave me great exposure, while working under strong and influential business women. These women, specifically Bobbi, were supporting each other and doing what they loved; all while building businesses, brands, and raising families.
After I had my own family, I started to think about what my legacy would be. I was spending time with my mom resetting jewelry on 46th and 47th streets in Manhattan and going to shows, when I was reintroduced to lab diamonds. I didn’t understand why this sustainable option for real diamonds wasn’t more widely known or available, especially in the pieces that I wanted to wear everyday and eventually pass onto my kids. That is when KBH Jewels was born. I wanted to create jewelry that serves as beautiful modern heirlooms, pieces that can be passed down to future generations. It is all about doing something for the world that my children are going to live in and eventually share with their own families. That is tradition; that is part of our legacy.
What does your line represent? How is it reflective of you?
Family and the tradition are at the heart of everything we do. Two key ideas that are the foundation of the brand are the Latin roots for tradition and sustainability. “Traditio” means to “pass on for safekeeping” and “sustinere” means “to endure.” To us, those two things mean the same thing. The women that we know are doing their best today to give the people they love a better tomorrow - and that’s what we are trying to do here.
We designed these pieces for the women in our life that are all things. Women are moms, daughters, sisters, wives, professionals, friends, protectors - we do it all. We want our jewelry to make these women feel even more empowered than they already are.
What pieces, if any do you wear every day or suggest as everyday wear?
You can typically find me from head-to-toe in the Short Bar earrings, a lariat necklace, at least one of our tennis bracelets, and a variety of our stackable rings - from the Traditio and Wonder Women, to the Reclaimed Classics and Wave Ring. Almost every piece in the collection can be incorporated into your everyday wardrobe. In general, I have a daily “uniform” that takes me from drop off, to meetings, and beyond. It’s about putting together the pieces that make you feel comfortable, beautiful, and strong. I’m also big on layering - life is short, wear your jewelry.
What steps do you take to stand out from other jewelry designers?
Lab diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds; the only difference is the point of origin. This means that you don’t have to irreversibly damage the earth and I didn’t understand why this option wasn’t more readily available. It was as if there was this big clean secret that the diamond producers association doesn’t want you to know about — cultivated diamonds are real diamonds.
We didn’t just want a company with lab diamonds and call that sustainable because the only clean gold out there is recycled gold. Everything we do from product to packaging is sourced from ethical, sustainable, and reclaimed methods. Every choice is a conscious choice. There was a hole in the market for our consumer who believes that sustainable materials and modern luxury are one in the same.
Who are your design muses?
Clearly, my mother and father, husband and kids have always inspired me to want to give more today to make a better tomorrow. Being surrounded by a tribe of very strong women that always believed in me, even when I didn’t yet believe in myself, gave me the courage to try. There are also brands out there that have inspired us. We do a lot of work with Stuller, who started doing in-house recycling of gold because it was the right thing to do. I liken that to Eileen Fisher, who was always looking for sustainable options in materials and fabrics because it mattered to her. These brands started to change the industry.
We are already so humbled to have strong, smart women that we look up to wearing our jewelry— Molly Sims, Kate Mara, and Ali Larter, to name a few. In the future, it’s our dream to have female icons like Bobbi Brown, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwen Stefani, and Blake Lively, wear our jewels and one day pass them on to their family. To me, these individuals represent strong women who embody the KBH values.
What’s next for you and the brand?
This year is all about presenting ourselves to the public and introducing the brand and what lab diamonds really are to the world that is interested in a cleaner, safer more conscious luxury product. Although our official launch was on October 1st of 2018, it almost feels like years. We have accomplished so much, but still have so much to do and so much ahead of us. We have had, and continue to have some very exciting press, interviews and retailer meetings and partnerships that we are hoping to share the details of very soon!
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Try to create sustainably. It’s easy to source parts and pieces in a non-sustainable way because they are more widely available, but don’t take the easy road. Don’t take a piece or a part or a finding that’s not made in a way that can make the future better. Everyone places value on different things but that’s what is really important to us. Everything about this process has made me try harder and think more. The more you look, the more you see. It’s all about being conscious.
There is a quote that has resonated with me a lot while creating KBH, “Don’t do nothing, just because you can’t do everything.” We try to have circular practices in everything we do, but the truth is, it is not yet an option when it comes to every facet of our daily business. We are consistently challenged with digging deeper, asking questions, and researching ways to do things differently. This requires creative thinking and a lot of research, but it really makes the endgame much more rewarding.