We had the great honor to interview Niki Grandics of Enji Studio. Her path to jewelry design, her dedication to sourcing responsible materials, and her remarkable and creative designs are truly inspirational. We’ve included many of her beautiful designs below, and look forward to continuing to work with this amazing artist and jewelry designer!
When did you first realize you wanted to become a jeweler?
I sort of stumbled into jewelry indirectly. I was always interested in art and design, but wasn’t introduced to the world of jewelry until much later. When I started studying at San Diego State University, I was a graphic design major, because at 19 I thought that was the only career option for someone who is an artist but doesn’t want to be a starving artist. I pretty quickly realized it wasn’t a good fit and began taking other art classes that I thought were interesting like glass blowing and sculpture. For a sculpture class, I started working on a series of wearable glass sculptures. A friend recommended that I take a jewelry and metals course to learn more techniques to make them wearable. I took his advice and once I sat down at the jeweler’s bench, I knew I was in the right place. It just clicked and I fell in love with jewelry almost immediately.
What inspires your beautiful designs?
I am inspired by the contrasts that make up our world and surround us in our day to day lives. Growing up, I travelled back and forth with my parents from our adopted home in Southern California to our native Hungary, and I was living in this world of visual and cultural contrasts. At the time, they felt like different worlds. This comes to life in my designs through the materiality of raw and faceted stones and precious metals. In many ways working with these materials is like working with polar opposites to create a cohesive design. Stones are often unforgiving materials and can also be fragile, while precious metals like gold and silver can more easily be persuaded to take on different forms, like geometric details that highlight the unique characteristics of raw stones.
What motivated you to use responsibly-sourced supplies?
I feel like it is the right thing to do. In our global economy which gave rise to industries like fast fashion, we need to consider the implications of how we source our materials and make our products and as consumers how we spend our money.
What challenges have you encountered in using responsibly-sourced supplies?
The main challenge I have encountered is the limited amount of suppliers that provide transparently and responsibly sourced materials. I’m glad that this increase in consumers asking companies about how they source their materials and produce their products is prompting more suppliers to make changes.
What are some of the benefits that have resulted from responsible sourcing?
My customers also love that my pieces are made using responsibly sourced materials.
Why do you use rough diamonds in your jewelry designs?
I wanted to design a collection around ethically sourced rough diamonds and their unique surface and textures. Diamonds are everywhere in jewelry, whether it is in a classic solitaire or a dainty gold pave pendant, and they have been a part of our culture and history for hundreds of years. I wanted to create a line using rough diamonds to highlight their natural beauty.
What are your favorite shapes, colors, and types of rough diamonds?
My favorites are the rough diamond crystals. They all have such unique textures and character and just the right amount of sparkle!
What is your favorite rough diamond design that you've created?
My favorite was a custom engagement ring I made for a client last year. I was given a lot of creative freedom with the design to create a really unique and organic setting for the stone and I’m so happy she loves it!
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in sustainable/responsible jewelry design?
My advice would be to always ask questions. This doesn’t just apply to materials sourcing, but for starting/running a business, design etc. No one has all the answers! I am lucky to have a great network of people that I can ask questions from and bounce ideas off of.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to create a rough diamond or generally responsibly-sourced engagement ring? Where should they begin?
Really get to know your client and what they like and want and a bit about their lifestyle to create a design that they will love and can be a part of their life for a long time. Then I would look for stones that they love and design a piece that will really make it shine.
Thanks to Niki Grandics and Enji Studio for taking the time to tell us your story, provide us with such inspirational advice and especially for the opportunity to share your beautiful designs that include rough diamonds sourced from The Raw Stone!
If you are interested in discussing rough diamond jewelry designs, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to browse our rough diamond collection here.