By Ashley Davis
This Mortiz Glik bracelet is among the fine jewelry using responsibly sourced natural materials presented in Christie’s and Vogue Italia’s “The Protagonist” exhibition. It features 3.30 carats of diamonds, white sapphire, 18-karat yellow gold, tagua nut and pineapple leather.
New York—Originally founded by now-defunct magazine Vogue Gioiello as a platform to promote the height of contemporary American jewelry design, “The Protagonist” has found new life as an international showcase for sustainability.

This year, Christie’s New York and Vogue Italia partnered on the project, which used to be called “US Protagonists.” The two hosted a four-day sale and exhibition last week of designs from 14 contemporary jewelers from around the globe, all using responsibly sourced materials.

Designer Alexandra Mor, who spearheaded the event as creative director, said consumers are looking for alternatives to many traditional jewelry materials that don’t sacrifice on design.

Last year, she spearheaded the use of the tagua seed in the “US Protagonists” exhibition, inviting her fellow designer participants to work with the ivory alternative.

“Tagua seed grows wild in the Amazon forest,” Mor told Christie’s. “Its physical properties are comparable to elephant ivory. By introducing it as a fine jewelry material, we offer a real solution to the poaching of these magnificent creatures support the communities around the forest.”

Mor continues to work with the material, and so do some of her colleagues, like Moritz Glik.

“I’m definitely going to put it in my new collection because the sky’s the limit for it,” he enthused. “It’s a hard material, but at the same time it is soft to carve by hand. It’s also very porous, which means we can dye it many different colors.”

This year’s designer group wasn’t limited to the tagua nut, however. They were charged with utilizing all manner of responsibly sourced natural, or non-synthetic, materials, such as recycled wood, ethically mined gemstones and even leather alternatives.

All diamonds had to adhere to the Kimberley Process and all metals had to be from sustainable sources.

In addition to Mor and Glik, this year’s “The Protagonist” group was comprised of fine jewelry brands Yewn, Irthly, K. Brunini Jewels, John Hardy, Ana Katarina, Assael, Tamara Comolli, Sylva & Cie, Dana Bronfman, Alessio Boschi, Shamballa and Daria de Koning.

Vogue Italia’s Fashion Market Editor Francesca Ragazzi surmised, “The sustainable revolution is conquering the world, and our mission is to show the consumers how this shift can be absolutely glamorous and fashionable.”

Mor added, “I don’t consider sustainability to be a trend, I see it as a way of life, a way of being, and it is deeply crucial to the future of our planet. Designers are more than just creative people; we are the new activists.”

Following the Christe’s event, “The Protagonist” collection is now available on

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