We catch up with DC native (she grew up in Great Falls, Virginia) and jewelry designer extraordinaire Monique Péan, who continues to give back through her gorgeous creations.
How did you happen into jewelry design? MONIQUE PEAN: I've been making jewelry since I was a little girl, but I began designing professionally over four years ago. I don’t have any formal training. Jewelry design was just a hobby, but then I started getting stopped by buyers who were interested in what I was wearing, so I decided to take a chance.
Why do you choose the materials you use?
My collection combines recycled gold with conflict- and devastation-free previous stones and diamonds. I also combine fossilized walrus, caribou and woolly mammoth ivory to create original fine jewelry. Monique Péan Fine Jewelry speaks to those who appreciate luxury and look for beautiful and avant-garde jewelry that makes a difference. We promote fair and ethical trade and raise awareness of indigenous people and environmental concerns.
Your jewelry often benefits different philanthropic causes. Who are you working with now?
For each collection that I create, I collaborate with a new charitable organization. In the past year we have provided clean drinking water to over 4,000 people for 20 years through jewelry sales. For my newest collection, I am working with Partners in Health to support their work in developing communities. When my sister unexpectedly passed away at age 16, I really wanted to effect change in my community and combine my love of art, business and philanthropy. I founded the Vanessa Péan Foundation to honor my sister’s dedication toward educating economically disadvantaged children in Haiti. In the five years since her passing, the foundation has raised over $150,000 to fund scholarships for underprivileged high school students in Haiti. This has provided excellent private education and mentorship to students by implementing a scholarship program that has enabled more than 150 Haitian students to attend private school.