Talk to Mariele Ivy, founder of jewelry brand Young in the Mountains, for even a few minutes and you’re bound to discover that she’s as invested in making the world a better place as she is in creating beautiful jewelry.
Like many other brands, Young in the Mountains uses recycled materials and conflict-free diamonds. But Ivy takes sustainability and responsible sourcing a couple of steps further: “The industry makes sure diamonds are conflict-free, but no one is paying attention to beads and inlayed stones,” says the designer, who uses 100% American-mined stones (from mines she has personal relationships with) in her brand’s inlay creations. “Nobody is talking about the lapis or malachite from Afghanistan,” she adds. “Nobody is questioning the semi-precious stones. But provenance is really important.”
Ivy founded the Denver-based brand—which now operates a retail outpost and an e-commerce site powered but a team of seven (four of whom are jewelers)—in 2012 with the mission of supporting the causes she believes in.
The company hosts monthly fundraisers to support the eradication of reproductive cancers, and donates money to domestic violence shelters, among other organizations. At the height of the pandemic, Young in the Mountains helped to fund foodbanks and COVID-19 relief in conjunction with Native American aid foundation First Nations, and also donated to non-profit organizations focused on maternity care and providing essential human needs both in Afghanistan. The company has recurring monthly donations set up to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Ivy credits her philanthropy as a key reason her brand’s seen steady growth each year since its inception. The company now counts a sizable socially-conscious client base in California and Colorado. But the jewelry—bohemian catnip for Millennials and Gen-Zers—is also genuinely stunning. Every piece, be it forged in sterling silver, brass or 14k yellow gold, has a handmade feel, yet comes across as organic-feeling and modern.
Ivy, who largely taught herself the art of inlay, soldering and other jewelry-fabrication skills, says the collection is influenced by Mexico, ancient Persia and the American Southwest, particularly the soft lines of adobe houses, Mesa Verde pottery, and arrowhead shapes.
On the brand’s website, she notes, “The desert is a constant source of renewal and inspiration for me,” and that “being an artist isn’t just about producing work, it’s the way you live your life.”
Top photo: Young in the Mountains ring set in 14k gold and gemstones (photo by Danielle Puchack)