Thanks to ENJI Studio Jewelry for partnering with us on this post! All opinions are our own.
We have known that there are ethical issues within the gem and metal industry (blood diamonds ring a bell?) but hadn’t really delved into the issue very far.
Niki Grandics of ENJI Studio Jewelry has been gracious enough to share a little bit more about ethics within the jewelry industry. She uses recycled and fairmined gold, silver, and stones whenever possible in her designs. As a part of Ethical Metalsmiths, she is also working to promote sustainable practices and transparency in the jewelry industry. She works with local charities like the Alliance for Hope to help women and families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She believes that part of her responsibility as a modern business owner is not just to look for short term profit, but how she can create a positive impact going forward.
Thanks for joining us today Niki!
You have a focus on sleek modern lines in your jewelry – what inspires your designs?
I am really inspired by the contrasts that surround us. I grew up going back and forth between the US and Hungary a lot. When I was a kid, they were really like different worlds. Even today the same area of Budapest is full of contrast, the beauty of the forest on the hills provides a backdrop for buildings that are hundreds of years old near architectural remains of the communist era sit next to luxury apartments and shopping centers. In terms of my work, I translate this inspiration to my love of the contrast between the sleek geometric lines of metal and the raw natural beauty of stones.
Explain to us a little more about what makes a metal, stone or gem ethical.
There is really no one size fits all definition for what makes a metal or gemstone ethical. To me, a metal or gemstone is ethical when its mining and finishing doesn’t fund conflict, violate human rights, or contribute to further destruction of the environment with the use of toxic chemicals that are not used or disposed of properly. Much of the supply chain in jewelry, like fashion, is convoluted with few regulatory agencies and standards to ensure that the materials essential to the craft of making jewelry were responsibly or transparently sourced. To me, this means working with stones that are certified Fairmined, recycled (this can mean purchased from a refiner or reusing stones from other jewelry and giving a new life in a new piece), or lab grown.
What led you to focus on ethical metals in your jewelry design?
For being such a beautiful and glamorous thing, jewelry has an ugly side to it too. Metals and stones are sometimes mined in ways that harm the environment, the miners, the indigenous people, and can also contribute to funding conflict. Toxic chemicals like mercury are often used in small and illegal mining operations which can poison the miners and native wildlife. Often the miners and stone cutters work in unsafe conditions and are not paid a fair wage, much like what we have seen in the fashion industry with the conditions in which a lot of clothes are also made. I had been following the work of Ethical Metalsmiths for a while before I became a member and the more I learned about where my materials come from, the more it effected my decision making. I love their mission statement also and I think it’s something we need to strive for as an industry: “Ethical Metalsmiths’ vision is a world in which people can create and enjoy jewelry made with materials from responsible sources that respect and protect the earth, its people, and cultures.”
What are the challenges of working with ethical metals?
It means more time and effort to find traceable and ethically sourced materials and narrows down the pool of suppliers to work with. It means asking your suppliers more questions about how they make and source their products, as well as asking them to put their name to it. Especially working in sterling silver, Fairmined options aren’t always available right now. In that case, I have a supplier I work with that is very environmentally conscious and works using best practices, recycles all of their metals in house and certifies that all of their metals are made using 100% recycled content.
Where do you see your brand going in the future?
Having just won the Halstead Grant, a jewelry industry business start up grant, I see my business continuing to grow and my designs continue to develop. I am working on a new collection right now and plan to include more gold in my designs (there is a larger supply of Fairmined and traceable gold than silver), and including more lab grown gemstones. This grant has been such an amazing opportunity and I’m really excited for what the future holds!
Today we get to give away a pair of her Linear Ombre Earrings in gold or silver – winner’s choice!
Please enter to win a pair of Linear Ombre Earrings in gold or silver by using the interface below.
You can enter once a day with the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter entry options, so come back and enter again to raise your chances of winning! Contest ends at Midnight CST on Sunday, November 20th. Good luck!
Giveaway ends Sunday, November 20th, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST. Open to Residents of the US only. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. Our opinions are our own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to dresswelldogood.com alone.