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5 Tips for Ethical Jewelry Buying This Holiday Season

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I’m Niki, the founder and designer of Enji Studio Jewelry. We’re a sustainable luxury jewelry brand based in beautiful north county San Diego.

at Enji we’re on a mission to bring you meaningful, modern, ethical design that shows off your style, honors the journey of your life, and reflects your values. We craft each piece for you in our Carlsbad studio bringing new life to recycled gold and silver and using only FairTrade and ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones.

Enji was founded in 2014. We take steps toward positive change in our industry by practicing ethical sourcing and manufacturing and giving back to the local and global community. We create our pieces for everyday wear.

Enji is about modern, minimal design that is made ethically and sustainably and gives back to the community. As creators and consumers, our choices now have a global impact. This is why we consider how things are made to be important and this to be part of our responsibility as a business and global citizen. As a designer and jeweler, I only work with suppliers that share this view. This is why we make all of my pieces using only recycled gold and silver, ethically sourced and fairtrade stones, chains and findings that are made in the USA and Italy, and packaging and marketing materials made using recycled paper and clothing.

Niki is a GIA Graduate Jeweler. She was awarded the 2016 Halstead Grant Award and 2014 Windgate Fellowship Award by the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design. She has exhibited in galleries throughout the United States and Europe and her work can be seen in the pages of Glamour UK, Basic, Evening Standard, National Jeweler, and more. To see her one of a kind art pieces and CV check out nikigrandics.com

Enji is about modern, minimal design that is made ethically and sustainably and gives back to the community. As a designer and jeweler, I only work with suppliers that share this view. We make all of my pieces using only recycled gold and silver, ethically sourced and fair mined stones, chains and findings that are made in the USA and Italy, and packaging and marketing materials made using recycled paper.

As a member of Ethical Metalsmiths, we hope to be among the first movers bringing transparency and sustainable practices into the luxury fashion jewelry world. Ethical Metalsmiths and Fairmined gold and gems.  All our pieces are made in our studio in San Diego and we use low-impact, environmentally conscious studio practices to lessen our footprint. 

We take steps toward positive change in our industry by practicing ethical sourcing and manufacturing, because it’s important. To us, to you, to the women and men who mined the stones we use to create our pieces. We also donate a portion of each sale to organizations that help empower women locally and globally and work to end domestic violence and human trafficking because that’s part of the future we want to see.

Ethical sustainable jewelry fairtrade fair trade fair-trade jewelry recycled gold recycled sterling silver San Diego Carlsbad ethical gemstones ethically sourced sustainable

5 Tips for Ethical Jewelry Buying This Holiday Season

Niki Grandics

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Can I tell you a secret? Gifting is my favorite part of the holidays. And jewelry gifts to me have always been such meaningful and emotional gifts that carry stories and memories with them. I’ve loved fashion and jewelry since I was kid, but my passion for fair fashion and sustainability started in 2013. Since then, I’ve turned my passion for jewelry and fair fashion into a career and have been designing under the Enji name since 2014.  As a jewelry lover, fair fashion advocate, and Ethical Metalsmiths member, I really believe you vote with your dollar, so even with my love of holiday gift giving, I try to shop according to my values and buy gifts that do good. While it seems like a lot to think about and a lot of research, here are a few quick tips that will make it easy to buy amazing jewelry and shop your values this holiday season:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions:

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If you’re shopping for jewelry gifts for your loved ones (or yourself), don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson or the jeweler where their gemstones come from or where the jewelry was made. Is it made from reclaimed precious metals or are they FairMined? Can their gemstones be traced back to the mine? Where was that lab grown diamond grown? Especially in fine jewelry, this is a question they should be able to answer. As a jeweler and designer, I’m giving you express permission to be a P.I.T.A. and ask all the questions. This will just encourage the industry to be more and more transparent and to take responsible actions when it comes to manufacturing and sourcing. Plus, if they do know the stories behind their jewelry and their gems, it can be a fun and eye opening to learn their stories and you can be assured your gifts only carry good karma.

2. Look for Quality:

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This year ditch the generic and the disposable, get them a gift they’ll continue to love for years to come. Low quality fast fashion accessories often break or wear out in a matter of weeks or months. With jewelry quality can be tricky to spot, unless you’re like me and always carry a loupe in your purse (you can definitely borrow one in most jewelry stores though). One quick thing you can check for (no magnification required) is the seams. On bracelets and necklaces, check to see if the jump rings are soldered closed. If you can’t see an opening in the rings, chances are it’s built to last beyond this season. For pieces set with stones, look at the prongs, are they actually touching the gemstone and holding it in place? Do they look thin or worn out? Are the gemstones treated or filled? These signs will give you a quick idea of the quality of the piece, and high quality pieces, when taken care of, last for a lifetime.

3. Shop Local:

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What could be better than getting your loved ones a truly unique gift that also boosts your local economy instead of buying something generic and mass produced? Check out local jewelry stores and designers on Small Business Saturday instead of rushing to mall jewelry stores on Black Friday. If fine jewelry isn’t in your budget this year, stop by a holiday market. Local makers and artisans often make one of a kind and and limited edition pieces, making it easy to find a really unique gift. They often also have local artists, restaurants, breweries, and musicians as part of the holiday market, so you can make a an afternoon of it and enjoy while you shop. San Diego Made Holidays Market, Made Market, Modern Artisan Marketplace, Renegade Market LA, and Unique LA are just a few you can find in Southern California.

4. If it seems “too cheap,” it probably is:

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Just take this recent report from CBS News, where jewelry from retailers like Nordstrom Rack and Ross was found to contain over 3000% more cadmium than is safe to wear. Cadmium is a highly toxic metal that harms not only the people who make this type of jewelry but also the people who wear it, and some of these pieces were found to be up to 90% pure cadmium. This saying goes for fine jewelry too, mass produced pieces often come with poor traceability and poor quality. And if it seems too cheap despite being gold or having precious stones, you have to question the quality and conditions under which the materials were sourced and the jewelry produced. So trust your gut, if it sounds too cheap, it probably is, and someone, somewhere is paying the true cost of that item.

5. Don’t forget who you’re shopping for:

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Are they active and outdoorsy, or is brunch more their idea of the outdoors? Someone who is more active might prefer something more minimal and durable, versus dainty jewelry with fragile gems like opals. Either way, there is likely a responsibly made piece out there for that person on your list. Resources like the Ethical Metalsmiths designer and retailer directory or the Good on You app can help you find the right piece for you or your loved ones. (link both of those)

 

Shopping you values and crossing those gifts off your list doesn’t have to be a challenge. So tell us below, what are your plans for holiday gifting? Do you find it hard to shop your values, especially with all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and what do you think would make it easier for you?