Nikki Reed has always been interested in jewelry. The actress-turned-designer comes from a long line of women artists and creatives (her great-grandmother was a jewelry designer). So, it’s no surprise that her brand Bayou With Love has quietly become a go-to for couples looking for sustainable options for their wedding bands and engagement rings.
Motivated by the lack of truly eco-friendly jewelry available, Reed launched the brand to fill what she saw was a need in the market: timeless, sustainable pieces that will last a lifetime. “There's a world where luxury and sustainability can live together,” says Reed. And her line of consciously-made jewelry and accessories does just that.
We sat down with the jewelry designer to talk about her mission, finding the perfect engagement ring, and how to make your wedding more sustainable. Read on for more Nikki Reed, a woman on a mission.
Her Eco-Friendly Mission
Sustainability is built into the DNA of Bayou with Love—they were the first direct-to-consumer brands to use recycled gold recovered from discarded technology—and Reed is working to change the way people understand sustainable gemstones and metals.
“There were so many misconceptions floating around. If I said ‘recycled gold,’ then people thought, ‘oh, that's probably fake gold,” which is very much not the case, adds Reed. Bayou with Love also works with grown diamonds, and it took some work to get shoppers to understand they have no molecular difference to traditionally mined diamonds. “The more we've educated our customers on this, the more they grow into their own curiosity about what sustainability can mean,” says Reed.
Finding Success on Her Own Terms
What you might not know about Reed, is that she went through her fair share of success and failure building her jewelry business. “In my early 20s, I launched my first jewelry collection, which no one would remember… no one should remember,” laughs Reed. It took growing into herself and her commitment to sustainability to finally come into her own with Bayou with Love. And she’s fully committed to growing her business, much like the jewelry she sells, sustainably.
“I wasn't fully realized as an artist and designer when I was in my early 20s. So, I'm grateful that was short-lived because I feel like what I create now is much more of a reflection of who I am and what I believe in,” says Reed. Today, she’s committed to growing her business the smart way, “proving that slow production, conscious production allows for the opportunity to do things better.” That’s her mantra.
Where She Gets Her Inspiration
Bayou with Love isn’t your typical celebrity business. Reed has a hand in everything from ethically sourcing the diamonds they use (the brand works with manufacturers in California that use solar energy) to the site photography, which she shoots completely on her own.
In fact, photography is a part of her design process. “I'm a nature photographer," explains Reed. “So I spend time in nature. I take photos of things: mushrooms growing, ripples in the ocean—moments that I think the naked eye might miss. And I go back through when I look at my photography, and I incorporate it into our design.”
Her life at home, with her husband Ian Somerhalder and their daughter Bodhi, also inspires her designs. Bayou with Love’s seashell collection came from a moment on the beach with family. “I told [my daughter] I would make her shell, and I did. And then, it turned into ‘Wait, why is this not part of our entire collection?’”
Her Best Advice for Ring Shopping
Reed’s clients come to Bayou with Love—not because they saw her in Twilight or know her acting work—but because the brand is one of the few sustainable options out there. She often works with grooms, whose main concern is whether or not their partners’ rings will last a lifetime.
Her advice? “If you go classic, you can't go wrong.” Reed strives to design outside trend cycles, focusing on traditional designs with a twist. She also loves the idea of adding a second piece to your ring stack to make your engagement choice feel fresh years later.
"I can't change the cost of gold. And I can't pay my employees or factory workers any less. But what I can do is create one piece that serves as five pieces," she explains. Stick with the classics, and you’ll never feel ring regret. Plus, adding a new band to your wedding jewelry makes for an ideal future anniversary present.
Her Sustainable Wedding Tips
While Reed has definitely doubled down on sustainable living since her wedding in 2015—"we're always growing"—many of the steps she took to reduce her ceremony's environmental impact still ring true today. She rented vintage pieces for her wedding furniture and used compostable plates.
Small steps to make sure your wedding pieces are reusable are key to an eco-friendly big day. “I told all of my bridesmaids, wear whatever dress you want,” Reed says. “I don't even care if you wear shoes—I just don't want you to buy something for one day that you're never gonna wear again; I want it to be something that you love.”
Her Latest Jewelry Collection
For people looking for an engagement ring with a special meaning, Bayou With Love is here to help you tell your love story. As Reed tells it, "if you went out of your way to source a ring with the smallest possible footprint and didn't harm the environment... that would make me fall in love with someone even more." Keep scrolling for an exclusive look at her latest collection from Bayou With Love.
I try to create outside of trend cycles. So that doesn't mean that they're not hip, cool, and beautiful, but it means that it's not necessarily catering to a short-lived fashion moment.
I love a classic silhouette with a modern, sustainable twist.
Versatility is the key to sustainability. That's another one of my mantras.
My goal is to create the one piece that you treasure for a lifetime.