One of my favorite new jewelry finds from this winter’s New York Gift Show was the Calamarie Orange Peel Collection. These handcrafted “roses” start out as orange peels that are collected from street juice vendors and thoroughly cleaned before undergoing a lengthy sun-drying, shaping, and dyeing process. The pieces, which retain a mild scent of orange, are designed in the U.S. and handmade in Colombia by dozens of gifted women artisans across the country. Other collections from Calamarie include jewelry designs made of hand-painted seeds, woven metalwork, and discarded silk worm cocoons.
Calamarie founder Catalina Lemaitre travels to Colombia three times a year to work with the artisans, develop new designs, and oversee production. Lemaitre was inspired to create the collection out of an interest in the environment, the economic development and empowerment of women, and the preservation of traditional art forms. The company gives back in other ways as well. “We also develop alliances with artisan coops and foundations to design and develop custom products that support educational and arts programs for children in Colombia as well as other important causes around the world,” adds Lemaitre.