Of all the different varieties and qualities of down available, there is absolutely nothing that even approaches the warmth and softness of genuine Eiderdown. It is warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and more comfortable than anything else in the world. It is so incredibly lightweight that it is literally like sleeping under a warm cloud. It is the best.
Christian IV of Denmark, in order to always have an Eiderdown duvet at his disposal, had several artificial colonies of these birds created in Northern Norway in 1651, for his personal use as well as for the court.
St. Geneve Eiderdown is hand collected from the bird's nests at Eider Duck sanctuaries in Iceland, in a special relationship that has existed for generations between the ducks and the local farmers. The birds are not disturbed, and are attracted to the area because of food supplied by the farmers.
Nest of the Eiderduck after egg-laying. Down is only collected very early in the season, to allow the female duck ample time to rebuild the nest before the eggs are laid.
If you demand the best, there is nothing comparable to the magnificent quality of an heirloom Eiderdown duvet.
Here's what www.travelnet.is has to say:
In Iceland, down comforters are not a luxury but a necessity, practically as indispensable as the kitchen stove. You would be hard-pressed to find an individual who does not own one.
Eider down, of course, is the most refined and delicate of all the downs, and eider-down production is one of Iceland's most notable industries. Eider down is a much-coveted material and the demand far exceeds the supply; comforters made of Icelandic eider down sell for astronomical prices in countries like Japan and Germany.
Is Eiderdown and down in general better than synthetics? Here's how www.spaceforspecies.ca responds:
Question: I have a down parka and sleeping bag that contain goose down. Is down from eiders still used for clothing or is it too expensive or illegal? How does the insulation value of goose down compare with that of the common eider and king eider? I know that artificial insulation material isn't as good as down, but it has other advantages. Is it environmentally better? (27/02/02)
Answer: Most products contain goose down because it is significantly less expensive than eider down. Eider down is collected from the wild whereas goose down is usually a by-product of raising geese for food. At present, eider down is collected for commercial use in Iceland where the wild eiders have become unusually tame after generations of down harvest. Eiders are not harmed from this harvest. The down is collected before egg-laying starts so that the female has time to re-line her nest. Much of the goose down used currently originates in China. Other sources of goose down include Canada and Poland.
In terms of insulation value, the main issue is 'fill power' - that is, the amount of space a given amount of down fills. Based on fill power alone, eider down does not perform as well as the best quality goose down. However, eider down has the advantage in that it clings to itself better; this prevents shifting. Products containing goose down restrict shifting by the use of baffle walls, such as those found in quilted items such as sleeping bags and duvets.
Synthetic insulation does not last as long as down (either goose or eider) and must be replaced more often. Since synthetic insulation is a petroleum product, it is neither biodegradable nor a renewable resource. Down products are more eco-friendly. A reputable manufacture of down products should be able to inform you about the origin of the down used and the method by which the down is harvested.