Meet Generation: An Upcycled Jewelry Brand That Champions Female Investment

Sustainable and functional pieces.

Generation Rope Ring Pendant

Generation/Design by Cristina Cianci

There's a massive gap in knowledge of investment principles among women. In fact, 74% of widows and divorcées don't feel versed in investing, though 75% of all women want to learn more, according to respective studies by UBS and Fidelity Investments. Boryana Straubel is looking to change that. 

Straubel grew up in Bulgaria, where hyperinflation was common and putting your trust in the government was a risk. Because of this, her family looked for alternative ways to hold onto their money. Aware that gold was a much more functional gift, for her high school graduation, Straubel’s mother gave her a 30-gram, 24-karat gold necklace. 

The price of gold that summer was $280 per troy ounce. Now, two decades later, it’s worth $1900. This 580-percent appreciation taught Straubel the value of gold and investing—equating the necklace to a wearable savings account.

It was this realization, and her environmentally conscious persona, that led her to develop Generation, an investment-grade jewelry company. With a greater mission of creating more sustainable and functional ways for people to accrue wealth, the brand also minimizes its impact on the environment by using upcycled e-waste and scrap gold to make jewelry. As sourced materials are all recycled, they reduce the energy, water, and carbon dioxide needed to produce items. According to Straubel, recycled gold jewelry could reduce the fashion industry’s carbon footprint by two percent.

The Generation Process

The collection includes rings, pendants, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made of 24-karat gold, silver, and platinum. Materials originate from recycling facilities that use green chemistry, or the process of reducing or eliminating hazardous substances. Instead of traditional recyclers, which use one system to chop up materials, green recyclers have double and triple burners that process all emissions a few times until only clean air comes out. 

Once the metals come out of the recyclers, the next step is melting them down to bring the sketches of Rhode Island-based jewelry designer, Erica Bello to life. In order to invest in US manufacturing and minimize the environmental impact of shipping internationally, production then finishes in Chicago, Louisiana, and Florida.

Instead of buying more things, buy less things that are really smart for you, financially.

The Environmental Impact

As an environmentalist, Straubel wanted to make Generation a jewelry brand with a brain. “The modern mine is going to be the mountains of garbage we have,” she says, “And the garbage is valuable.”

Every gram of recycled gold saves 680 liters of water. And in everyday terms, the energy saved in one gram is the equivalent of 16 years of charging a mobile phone. But one of the most fascinating revelations from this conservation-based approach is just how circular 24-karat gold can be. The weight is easy to re-melt into a new piece, meaning all Generation jewelry is designed for further upcycling, extending the life of the materials. 

If carbon footprint is of concern (as it should!), Generation has thought about that, too. By having the option to plant trees with every purchase, customers can offset the negative impact of shipping, and in turn, neutralize their own carbon footprint. With such a thorough approach, the brand is thinking long-term and cares about future generations. “When we did Generation, I wanted to make sure this was a zero-carbon product, and recycled metals solved 99% of that, but there was still shipping,” Straubel shared. “I thought, if we are talking about generations, trees for me are a symbol of that. 24-karat is going to last for centuries, and trees are the same thing.” 

The Future

“Sustainability and price are still in conflict,” Straubel tells me as she reflects on how else she wants to change the industry. Her goal is to show customers that you don’t have to be a celebrity or have a ton of money to invest and be a conscious consumer: “Instead of buying more things, buy less things that are really smart for you, financially."

Ahead, shop some of our favorite pieces from Generation.

Generation Legacy Chain Earrings
Generation Legacy Chain Earrings $623 (fluctuates with gold price)
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This simple yet eye-catching design is great for everything from business meetings to brunch dates, and the innovative earring back mechanism reduces your chance of accidentally losing a stud.

Generation Rope Ring Pendant
Generation Rope Ring Pendant $869 (fluctuates with gold price)
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This circular design makes for a timeless classic, perfect for almost any occasion and for passing down to future generations.

Generation Handmade Legacy Necklace
Generation Handmade Legacy Necklace $7521 (fluctuates with gold price)
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Ready to invest? This heavier chain impresses in quality, style, and durability, and as with the necklace in Straubel's story, its value may only become more evident in the years to come.

Generation Recycled Cotton String Bracelet
Generation Recycled Cotton String Bracelet $95
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A blank canvas for showing off Generation's assortment of charms, this bracelet has impressive durability and is a great entryway into the brand.

Generation Twist Stud Earrings
Generation Twist Stud Earrings $1256 (fluctuates with gold price)
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The simple, textured design of these oversized studs creates an everyday luxury aesthetic that's sure to retain its power even as trends come and go.

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