Niki Grandics founded ENJI Studio Jewelry in 2014 after being recognised as an innovative upcoming talent in the field of design. She began as a graphic designer but soon realised that her heart lay with jewellery design. Always considering the meaning, emotion and story each design should hold, Niki’s bold designs are 100% handmade using high-quality materials that are where possible recycled, Fairmined and sustainable.
While setting the trend for using sustainable and ethical practices, Niki also raises money for and works with many local charities, including those helping victims of violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Her jewellery is not only unique, ethical and stylish, but it makes a real difference to real lives. We chat with Niki about why giving back and leaving a positive impact for the future is her number one goal.
Have you always been passionate about jewellery design?
“I’ve always loved art and design, but I sort of stumbled into jewellery indirectly. I was studying to be a graphic designer at San Diego State University because at 19 I thought graphic design was the only artistic career that didn’t mean being a 'starving artist'. Quickly into the program, I realised that graphic design wasn’t a good fit for me and I started taking other art and design classes that I thought would be interesting such as sculpture and glass blowing. I enrolled in a jewellery and metalsmithing course and as soon as I sat down at the jeweller’s bench, I knew that’s where I was meant to be and I haven’t looked back. I’m really lucky to have found a career I am so passionate about!”
What drove you to start your own line of jewellery?
“I hesitated for a long time to start my own line, but I am extremely glad that I did. After I graduated from SDSU, I was awarded the Windgate Fellowship by the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design which allowed me to attend workshops with master jewellers and glassblowers, pursue an internship in the Netherlands at Galerie Marzee and purchase the tools and equipment I needed. I worked for a few other designers during and after my studies and I learned a lot about business and working at the bench. Ultimately, having my own line gives me more creative freedom in my designs as well as how I source my materials and run my business.”
"I really love days where I can just turn on some music and work at the bench, designing and making new pieces or working on custom jewellery for my clients."
Where do you create your best work?
“I do my best work at my bench and I really love days where I can just turn on some music and work at the bench, designing and making new pieces or working on custom jewellery for my clients. I currently also do most of the manufacturing and send some work such as casting to another local shop in San Diego, so everything is handmade in California.”
How do you source your materials?
“I work exclusively with recycled and Fairmined gold and sterling silver that I purchase from a refiner that I work with. The diamonds I use are also Fairmined, the rough diamonds coming from South Africa and the faceted ones are from Canada.”
"I started by designing pendants for a couple of local charities to help raise money and now also donate a portion of profits, as well as my time, as a volunteer mentor."
Values are really important us at Jewelstreet. What are your core brand values?
“I really value giving back and leaving a positive impact for the future. We pride ourselves on our sustainable sourcing and environmentally friendly studio practices. I wanted the brand to give back to the community also. I feel like I’ve been very fortunate for my education and the opportunities that allow me to do what I love and so as a business owner, I have to look at more than just profit. I started by designing pendants for a couple of local charities to help raise money and now also donate a portion of profits, as well as my time, as a volunteer mentor. I work with Alliance for Hope, a non-profit charity that helps families and women who have been affected by domestic violence, assault, and human trafficking.”
Tell us about the most meaningful piece of jewellery you have ever received?
“The most meaningful piece of jewellery I ever received was in Murano, Italy before I ever made a single piece of jewellery. I was visiting with my family and as a glassblower myself, had to visit the island to see all the amazing glass work. I was absolutely blown away watching these master craftsmen working in the hot shop. It’s impossible not to be so inspired in such a place. My mum surprised me with one of those necklaces later that day. I still have it and keep it like a treasure, it really opened my eyes to what jewellery is and can be in less traditional ways.”
"I want them to know that their choices, even for something small like what you’re wearing, can help make a positive difference in someone’s life."
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your designs?
“I want them to feel confident, beautiful, and just a little edgy. I want them to know that their choices, even for something small like what you’re wearing, can help make a positive difference in someone’s life.”
What does the future hold for ENJI Studio Jewelry?
“I feel like every day brings its own lessons and opportunities and I couldn’t feel luckier to be able to do this.”
ENJI Studio Jewelry is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.