WHAT MAKES EIDERDOWN DUVETS SO SPECIAL?

Eiderdown doesn’t have quill shafts, like a feather, but instead has a central point from which hundreds of soft down barbs branch outwards.

Miniature hooks at the end of the barbs keep the down clumped together with warm, airy pockets.

It’s also way more durable than quill feathers.

Down duvets are exceptionally hardwearing; some have been in use for more than 100 years.

This is why eiderdown is so highly prized. With its unique insulating properties, there’s literally no other material like it.

Eiderdown doesn’t have quill shafts, like a feather, but instead has a central point from which hundreds of soft down barbs branch outwards. Miniature hooks at the end of the barbs keep the down clumped together with warm, airy pockets.

It’s also way more durable than quill feathers. Down duvets are exceptionally hardwearing; some have been in use for more than 100 years.

The secrets behind our exclusive eiderdown

Svalbard: a precious Norwegian island

To find the source of Norvegr’s eiderdown, we need to go to the rugged and remote archipelago of Svalbard. Here, wild eider ducks co-exist with the resident polar bears.

Locals look after the birds, endeavouring to protect them from predators as they nest and rear their young, before carefully harvesting the down. Less than 100kg is collected a year, making it arguably the most exclusive down in the world.

Svalbard’s eider ducks are no ordinary birds

Belonging to the Somateria mollissima borealis sub-species, they’re hardier than the eider ducks on the mainland. To cope with the harsh polar climate, they’ve evolved alongside the island foxes and reindeer to be smaller with thicker, plusher fur.

Another big difference: the eider ducks on Svalbard are completely untouched by humans.

A mother’s care

It’s thanks to motherly love that we’re able to cocoon ourselves in soft, warm eiderdown.

The female eider plucks down from her own breast to feather her nest. Whenever she needs to wander to the sea to feed, she simply spreads a little down over her eggs. This keeps them warm for the whole day – even in the icy chill of northern Norway.

There couldn’t be greater testimony to the insulating properties of this magical material.

Harvesting and cleaning

After midsummer, the female and her ducklings discard the nest and take to the sea. This is when the down can be collected by hand and washed. Hand-cleaning, to rid the down of seaweed and twigs, is the only way to preserve its unique qualities.

It’s painstaking work:

  • Each nest yields approximately 15-20 grams of down
  • Collection from 60 nests amounts to one kilo of down
  • It takes a highly skilled person a full week to clean a single kilo
  • The annual quantity collected is sufficient to fill around 100 duvets

Fill power or eider power?

We often talk about duvet fill power, but here again, eiderdown is in a league of its own.

When cold, eiderdown takes up considerably less space than when it’s warm. But when heated by body warmth, it fluffs up immediately. Once expanded, the fill power exceeds the EU 1000 rating by far. No wonder this rare, luxurious material is among the most coveted in the world.

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