Pyrrha: meaningful jewelry, produced ethically

Back in 2014 every Game of Thrones fanatic had their dreams come true, courtesy of Pyrrha, Vancouver based jewelers who collaborated with HBO to produce a stunning array of GOT inspired jewels. Four years on now, and Pyrrha, named after a Greek mythological figure, is going from strength to strength, continuing to keep the interest of many Hollywood celebrities and icons.

We spoke to founders, Wade Papin, and his partner Danielle Wilmore, to gain more insight on their push towards sustainability milestones and messages for other companies.

Q. How would you describe the mission of Pyrrha? What inspired you?

We create jewelry that has personal significance to the wearer. People connect with symbols and their meanings, and the individual way they resonate with their own or a loved one’s personality, ambitions, struggles or source of joy. Our intention with our talismans is to offer inspiration, connection, protection or simply a bit of happiness through their meaningfulness. You could say our mission is to help people to feel better and overcome obstacles.

We started Pyrrha because we wanted to make meaningful jewelry that looks great, does no harm in its making and is lasting; not costume jewelry, but also not fine jewelry. When we started out more than 20 years ago, there wasn’t much in this category. We had to make it up as we went along because there wasn’t much to model ourselves on.

Q. What are the major challenges for sustainability in the consumer goods industry and how do you work to get over the challenges?

Research and development is definitely more expensive and time consuming for Pyrrha than for many other jewelers because of our commitment to sourcing only from ethical suppliers that meet our standards. We’re a certified B Corporation, which means we meet rigorous social and environmental high watermarks in everything we produce. As well, our raw materials are more expensive – everything from certified reclaimed metals and ethically sourced stones to good-quality recycled paper for our catalogs and organic produce for our lunch room.

Rather than rely on the usual, obvious sources, we reach out to friends and contacts in the industry and find support from likeminded people in the B Corp community. We stay connected and transparent. Working this way really gives us joy and illuminates our work.

Q. What have been some major milestones in your journey? Where do you see Pyrrha heading?

We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s a really big deal to us; becoming a carbon-neutral, certified B Corp was a milestone that encompassed so much of what we believe in. We’ve always aspired to using our business for good, so being part of a community that upholds that philosophy is very satisfying.

We’re also really proud of our flagship store in L.A., which is a physical manifestation of so many things we love. Our collaboration with HBO for our Game of Thrones line has been so much fun since we’re big fans of the show. Hitting our 20th anniversary a couple of years ago meant a lot to us – it was amazing to realize how far we’d come. We invited Patti Smith to perform at our studio and having all of our friends there to enjoy the show was something that we’ll never forget.

As for the future, we’re currently designing our new Vancouver studio which is going to be a work of art in itself, and of course we’re continuously designing meaningful new pieces while we strive for even higher environmental standards.

In the photo: Pyrrha talisman Credit: Pyrrha

Q. What advice does Pyrrha have for other companies focusing on environmental sustainability?

Don’t assume that what is offered to you is the best solution. Always look outside your industry to find alternative ideas – for materials, for alternatives to chemicals, different processes, etc. And do what you do because you believe in it, not because you are trying to make your brand better. It’s authenticity that will define what you do.

And…. Start now! Don’t try to get too ambitious too fast, the rest will follow.

Q. What are your views on environmental sustainability,  is it heading in the right direction?

Very positive. The jewelry industry, like most, used to be very opaque. Customers are becoming more educated and are starting to demand transparency and environmental sustainability relating to renewable materials, safe and fair processes, and high ethical standards in human resources. We feel increasingly supported by our community and our customers who care about the same things we do.

In the photo: Soldering as part of the handcraft process Credit: Pyrrha

Q. What are some of the ways the average citizen can contribute towards sustainability?

There are many small ways to make a difference. We’re vegetarian, but if that doesn’t work for you, you could commit to Meatless Mondays. Ride your bike to work; don’t buy chemicals to clean your house; and limit packaging when you buy groceries. It all helps.

Editors note: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

About the Author /

Florentine was born in Germany but grew up all over Europe. In her Master's at ESCP Europe she specialized in sustainability. She is passionate about sustainable development, traveling and getting to know new cultures.

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