Ashley Graham: 'I am all about empowering people to live their own truth'

If you want to build a more sustainable jewellery collection, then you won't have missed the news this week that Pandora was launching sustainably lab-grown diamonds.

These unique diamonds are produced using predominantly renewable energy, and are cultivated by skilled artisans before being hand-selected for their impeccably high quality. Lab-created diamonds have the same properties and characteristics as mined diamonds and are held to the same exceptional standards – cut, colour, clarity and carat - before being set within the Brilliance collection.

The collection, set in gorgeous infinity inspired designs on earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets, and starts at just £220. Each tone ranges from 0.25 to one carat, thus democratising real diamonds for customers.

Shop the Pandora Brilliance collection now

American model and activist Ashley Graham fronts the gorgeous campaign, and tells us all about her favourite pieces and why becoming a mother has made her want to be more sustainable.

What is your most meaningful piece of jewellery is and why?

Oh, my goddess, I mean, I would just have to say my wedding ring. It is the first big diamond I have ever owned or have even been given and every time I look at it, I just think about the time I have been with Justin and how special he is to me.

He had a local Brooklyn Jeweller make it and, what we do is - well what I have decided and told him that I wanted - we have been together for 11 years in August, every five years, the ring either gets an addition or an upgrade…

So, I have had diamonds upgraded to bigger sizes, I have had another band added actually just this last August, when we celebrated ten years together in quarantine in Nebraska.

What drew you to Pandora’s new campaign?

Well, I was first of all, I was so honoured that they even asked me to be part of it. But, the fact that they had the first ever sustainably lab created diamond collection is pretty stellar. I love their mission, about bringing high quality diamond jewellery to women everywhere.

It's also very affordable...

It is an affordable price, and I think that really is what jewellery should be, is accessible for everyone and also sustainable.

Are you seeing more of a shift in the world of fashion towards sustainability?

I think so, I have never had this much of a conversation about sustainability and fashion which just marks a big moment in the conversation with the future of fashion. Making sustainable fashion choices is also such a simple way that we can all make this big positive difference. Even this collection just makes it possible to look good and do good at the same.

Yes exactly, and the global pandemic has accelerated that shift towards being more conscious with the choices we make. Whether that’s our wardrobes or any other aspect of our lives.

I definitely think so too, I mean that’s like people buying second hand or vintage, you know de-cluttering and getting rid of, I think we have all been on a very similar page there.

Have your views on slow and ethical fashion changed since becoming a mother or was it always on your mind?

I feel like, yes before and even bigger now. As a mum, you want to have your child be raised in the best planet, the best world or the best environment possible. But as a new mum, one of the new things I learnt for myself is that less is more. I don’t need the gadgets and you know, all the things people say that you need when you're pregnant.

So, that was something I was really glad that I figured out quickly for myself and shopping more thoughtfully and keeping things simple.

There’s the idea of leaving a better planet for the future generations.

I think it’s definitely about that. Whether you have kids or not, I think that this is how we should all be living.

Exactly, the campaign itself is about infinite possibilities, how does that apply to you as a person?

I really think that we all have this power within ourselves, to truly create our own futures and I am all about empowering people to live their own truth with confidence and to me, confidence is the key to unlocking your true potential.

Do you have any favourite designs in the collection?

I love the earrings that have the big diamond and the tear drop around it (shop them above). I just think that they are stackable, classic, with a modern twist and it feels likes any generation and age can wear them and you’ll have them forever.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.