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When Danish humanitarian-turned-entrepreneur Hedvig Alexander first traveled to Afghanistan with the United Nations in 2002, she was immediately taken with the handcrafted textiles and jewelry she discovered while wandering through local markets and villages. Over the next eleven years she visited often, and witnessed the struggle that artisans faced when attempting to sell their unique wares to the global market. Determined to find a solution, Alexander founded Far + Wide Collective in 2013, a social enterprise dedicated to connecting skilled indigenous craftspeople around the world with buyers and fashion brands in the West.

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Gold plated Blue Lapis Lazuli Cuff

Today, Alexander launches her most recent venture with Canadian cult jeweler Jenny Bird, who designed an eleven-piece collection of silver and gold plated cuffs, earrings, and necklaces, all inlaid with indigenous Afghani stones, such as lapis and black tourmaline. “We use the unique Afghani designs and work with the artisans to contemporize them in order to appeal to a more mainstream American market,” Alexander explains of the creative process. “We want to make something a North American woman feels she can wear without being too exotic. Everyone has bought something on a trip that feels great there, but is unwearable once you bring it home and it’s out of its original context.” Alexander buys the pieces directly from the artisans to bring revenue and sustainability to their underdeveloped communities. “You buy a product because you like it, but you’re also investing in somebody’s business,” she says.

Silver and Lapis Lazuli Earrings

For the collaboration’s lookbook, Bird and Alexander enlisted the help of photographer and Coveteur founder Jake Rosenberg to shoot some of New York City’s most prominent influencers in art and design wearing the jewelry, such as Neuehouse president Sabine Heller, designer Sandy Liang, artist Zoe Buckman, and stylist Masha Orlov. “They all immediately said yes,” Alexander says. “If you have a good cause, and idea, people want to help out. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Shop the jewelry here: www.farandwidecollective.com

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