As a young jeweler and educator, WEND founder Wendy Woldenberg visited the Yanacocha Gold Mine in Peru.
Though it's a legal mine, the environmental destruction she witnessed was terrifying. The impact from Large Scale Mines like Yanacocha is so profound that the damage is visible from space. Less visible is irreversible mercury contamination and wide-scale habitat destruction.
On that same journey, Wendy spent ten days in the Amazon Rain Forest, witnessing with awe the lungs of the Earth. This vital organ becomes weaker each day by “artisanal” small-scale gold mining.
This initial journey motivated Wendy to develop responsible practices for Jewelry Design.
She joined an international nonprofit organization focused on this goal, Ethical Metalsmiths, and became a Board Member for the organization.
Wendy lectures on ethical practices in the jewelry industry and works to move others in the industry toward a clean, transparent supply chain.
Images of the Yanacocha Gold Mine from Wikipedia
2 Decades of Teaching
Before launching WEND, Wendy taught Jewelry Design at a public high school outside Seattle for 22 years. With five classes each day of 28 students per period, Wendy trained over 6,000 students to create beautiful jewelry by hand.
Grateful for those immersive years working with amazing teenagers, Wendy passed the torch of the Jewelry Program over to Kyle Rees, her former student (and fellow jewelry designer) of immense talent and energy.
WITH THIS RING I THEE WED
Wendy couldn’t find wedding rings for her own marriage in 1999. She had been teaching high school Jewelry Design for three years, while selling her creations to friends.
To her surprise (and disappointment), her fiancé requested that she make their wedding rings. After reluctantly agreeing, they rolled up the coins they had been collecting over several years and had just enough money to buy the gold.
Since self-testing wedding rings in 1999 (so far, so good), Wendy began making custom rings and jewelry under the name W2 Jewelry Design. She fabricated rings for wedding and commitment ceremonies, graduations, birthdays, and all manner of celebrations.
When she wasn’t teaching high school students, she was making special jewelry for people who couldn’t find what they wanted at traditional jewelry stores.
Sometimes these custom ring projects led to Wendy officiating the wedding ceremonies (one of her greatest joys).
A two-week backpacking adventure around Mount Rainier on the Wonderland Trail led to the launch WEND Jewelry. On this trip, where hikers saw scenery, Wendy saw rings.
Glaciers, waterfalls, and trails became imaginary rings waiting to be made.
Upon her return from one of the greatest adventures of her life, she dreamt of the rings most nights, and started making proto-types. Finally, she executed a plan to launch WEND.