The Magic of Eiderdown

Eiderdown is the down produced by the eider duck, a species found in Canada, Iceland, Scotland, Scandinavia and Siberia. It's superior physical qualities, unique pedigree and rarity make it not only the most prized variety of down in the world, but something truly magical. Eiderdown is perfect for discerning consumers who care just as much about an object's quality as its story, the way it is produced, the traditions it embodies and its environmental impact.

Let's start with the physical aspects. Tufts of eiderdown are held together by microscopic hooks, an adaptation which makes harvested eiderdown more durable and consistent. Numerous tiny ‘hairs’ create even more pockets for air than regular down, making eiderdown more insulating.

What's more, eiderdown reacts more quickly to ambient temperature and is softer. The hardiness of eiderdown translates to much greater longevity for your duvet. It can easily hold up for 40 years, much longer than goose or other duck down. In practice a duvet's ticking is unlikely to hold up for four decades. That won't be a problem as eiderdown duvets can be renewed, a process where the down is removed, cleaned and then stitched back into new ticking.

eider duck nest with eggs

Iceland and Eiderdown

The Icelandic people have been using eiderdown as an insulating material for eleven centuries. Each year, eider ducks nest in the same place, in small colonies along the coast. One could even speak of a symbiotic relationship between eider ducks and the Icelanders who tend to their nesting grounds while ducks are away. Villagers ensure a safe and quiet habitat for the breeding ducks and protect their nests from predators.

The eider duck has been a protected species in Iceland since 1847. The peaceful coexistence between the Icelanders and the eider duck is one reason Iceland has one of the largest populations of eider ducks. Every spring, the eider ducks return to their breeding ground. After a breeding period of six weeks, the ducks take flight, leaving behind tufts of their remarkable down.

Roughly 400 Icelandic eider farmers gather it up, clean it and sell the 3000 kg annual haul to different duvet manufacturers. In this way the eider farmers carry on an ancient tradition, contributing to the preservation of ecological balance and the survival of the eider duck while granting access to a unique luxury product to a select few customers across the world.

Eider ducks in Iceland

Collection and Processing

Eider ducks are a wild species. They seem to require freedom as they do not thrive in captivity. Therefore, in order to harvest the down, the eider farmer must adapt to the lifestyle of the duck. Closely following the bird's life cycle, the farmers move in at the end of the breeding season and gather down from the abandoned nests. Each nest contains an average of just 20 grams of down.

After the labor-intensive harvest has been carried out, the eiderdown must be dried and freed of impurities in an elaborate, hands-on process. This process is very delicate since mishandling the down can cause it to lose it’s clinging properties.

Quality control ensures that the delivered eiderdown meets the highest standard.

Collecting and cleaning eiderdown

Why Eiderdown?

Self-regulating adjustment to ambient temperature

Eiderdown automatically adjusts to the ambient temperature. If the outside temperature rises, the hairs of the small down lay slightly flatter. As a result, the filling force and thus the insulation strength decreases in the summer. In the winter, the filling power increases again and the eiderdown duvet insulates more.

Softness

Tufts of eiderdown have neither quill nor any other hard components, so they are extremely soft and give off a unique cuddly feeling.

Long lifespan

On average, standard down duvets have a lifespan of 8-10 years. Duvets filled with eiderdown can last four times longer, up to 40 years. To make the most of eiderdown's extreme longevity, proper maintenance is required.

If the condition of the cover requires it, you can have the duvet renewed. In the case of an overhaul, the down is removed and cleaned, and, if necessary, placed in a new cover.

Exclusivity

Eiderdown is about as far from mass-produced as you can get. Each step in its production requires manual work and lots of attention to detail. The supply is constricted by the relatively small population of eider ducks. Annually, about 3000 kg of eiderdown is harvested, making it hundreds of thousands of times rarer than regular down.

Natural product

Eiderdown possesses the important characteristics which are absolutely necessary for filling of high-quality duvets. They must be respiratory-active and have a moisture-regulating effect, so that a pleasantly warm and dry sleeping climate is maintained.

eider duck

In the Wild

As eider ducks prepare new nests for the breeding season, they shed some of their down which forms a uniform layer of insulation. Remarkably, the special hooks in eiderdown ensure that no part blows away. Thus the nest, the female and the eggs are protected against the cold Icelandic wind during the incubation period.

Why are Eiderdown Duvets an Exclusive Luxury?

The process of collection and processing is very labor intensive. This example should demonstrate the exclusivity of each eiderdown duvet.

Among other eiderdown duvets, we offer the Dickenbergh Eiderdown. The summer variant in size 200x300cm has a fill weight of 360 grams. This means that, on average, the contents of 18 nests has to be collected and processed manually for this duvet. For the King Size version (260x220cm) 520 grams are needed. This means that a maximum of around 6000 King Size Dickenbergh summer duvets can be produced each year. And that's only if no other eiderdown duvets were made that year!

Check here to see our range of luxury eiderdown duvets


Down Duvet Buyer's Guide

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  1. Duvet size: Which duvet size do I need?
  2. Tog: Choose the right tog
  3. Fill power: What is Fill Power?
  4. Duvet fabric: Good down belongs in a good fabric

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