To craft the perfect piece of jewelry, sometimes you have to journey to the ends of the earth. Designer Monique Péan realized this on a 2007 trip to Shishmaref, Alaska, a community south of the Arctic Circle where the land is slowly sinking into the water. After traveling to the village by sled, Péan worked with native artisans to find fossilized walrus ivory and woolly-mammoth bone that they then carved by hand. The materials have since become her calling card, used throughout her work. This season's collection, inspired by the waters of French Polynesia and the art of Paul Gauguin, features stunning pieces like the Nihiru necklace. It carries a hefty price tag of $13,015, but there's no guilt associated with the splurge. In addition to fossilized woolly-mammoth bone, the necklace features 18-karat recycled rose gold, white diamonds found through fair-trade mining, and smoky topaz. "My aim is to blur the lines between absolute luxury and conscious living," says the 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up. We say: Mission accomplished. moniquepean.com
A version of this article appeared in the February 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.