Hania Kuzbari Jewelry originated as a hobby. The curious creative started handcrafting jewelry for her daughter, friends and family members out of her love for seeing them smile when they wore her unique accessories. The joy Hania felt when sharing her creations with those close to her was the catalyst driving her towards her Jewelry and Gemology studies at George Brown College in Toronto, followed by the art of jewelry design at Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence, Italy. With dreams of launching a brand that could spread joy and the beauty of purposeful pieces across the world, Hania knew that her products needed to be beautiful on the inside and out.
The jewelry designer set out to build a brand with a purpose, one that supports the land and local communities. However, in a world quickly tuning in to the popularity of “sustainability”, the word has turned into a label that is not always accurate. The hard truth is, jewelry making will never be 100% sustainable.
Our brand has set out to limit the negative impact of crafting fine jewelry while being honest about it along the way. We believe that luxury is not just the materials we use, but the process and purpose behind our pieces. We want you to be involved in every single step we take. So, Hania Kuzbari has sat down to answer some important questions. She is here to share her story with you. Our story.
As a designer and entrepreneur, what are your thoughts on combating the current climate crisis?
“Let’s start caring. Caring about how we can work towards a more promising future, how we can support one another and how our products can change an industry rooted in negligence.”
We all must take this specific moment in time to learn, observe and become better acquainted with how our actions affect our surroundings. As customers, we must make an effort to know where the things we consume come from. As business owners, we must work to seek out the best possible ways to produce our products and we must be clear with our messaging.
“It is possible to manifest our future without compromising the quality and authenticity of our designs.”
Let’s start caring. Caring about how we can work towards a more promising future, how we can support one another and how our products can change an industry rooted in negligence.
The industry is being challenged and changed. Together we can make a difference, not alone.
What steps are taken to ensure your gemstones are ethically sourced?
“Witnessing the terrible working conditions of some of these factories triggered something inside me.”
As a strict rule, we only work with suppliers that are not associated with child labour and are sourcing materials according to the Kimberley Process, a global initiative aimed at ensuring that the profits obtained for diamond trade do not contribute to financing civil wars.
Before beginning a professional relationship with my gemstone sources, I personally travelled to them to see for myself how they operated. Finding a company that felt comfortable working with took time, it involved visiting many different countries including Thailand, India, and Hong Kong. I searched for the most beautiful stones with the best cuts while looking into the factories and workplaces used to cut the gems and the practices followed to obtain materials.
Many of my trips were incredibly eye-opening. Witnessing the terrible working conditions of some of these workplaces triggered something inside me. I became aware of the chain effects my business can have on entire communities, and I grew increasingly conscious of the importance of working with the right supplier.
“It is important to admit that I cannot hand-on-heart guarantee that any supplier is acting completely ethically.”
It is important to admit that I cannot hand-on-heart guarantee that any supplier is acting completely ethically. No jewelry brand can. What I can do, and make sure to do, is check that they meet global standards, international regulations and that what I do see with my own eyes is something that feels right and matches my values.
What advice would you give to other jewelry designers working with gemstones?
“The first step is self-education.”
Jewelry making is not only about how to make original designs and selling products, it is also about the materials that are involved in the making. You must take time (a lot of time) to find out how your materials are sourced and how the companies you work with operate. Also, connect to green communities via social media or online, dedicated to sharing information on becoming more future-friendly. My team is in constant contact with organizations that share the latest information and news linked to the sustainability of the jewelry industry, and ensure this information is provided to our workers.
Creating pieces that are original, speaking to your brand’s unique aesthetic and values, is incredibly important. Finding the right process that aligns with your vision is key.
How do you source your silver and gold?
“We are bringing new life to something precious.”
We deal exclusively with suppliers that work with small scale mining organizations and meet world-leading standards for responsible practises. We also work regularly with recycled gold and silver. Gold and silver jewelry are symbols of love and admiration, a precious possession with a high financial value and usually an even higher personal value because of the meaning it holds for the wearer. By using salvaged silver and gold, rather than newly-mined gold, we are reducing the intensive labour of miners and breathing new life into something precious. We’re retelling the story in a way that you can feel good about.
Tell us about your artisan workshop.
One of the production spaces in the Hania Kuzbari workshop in Amman, Jordan
“The positive energy you feel with our pieces is immediately seen when stepping foot inside our doors.”
All of my fine jewelry pieces are individually handcrafted by expert artisans in my studio in Amman, Jordan. When I first established this brand one of my fundamental goals was to save the careers of the talented craftspeople affected by the Syrian war. These people were forced to leave their work and flee their countries in order to save their family’s lives.
By employing these skilled people, I was able to not only keep the heritage and culture of my work alive, but I was also able to build a brand rooted in traditional practises used to create jewelry since 700 BC that have long been forgotten in many parts of the world. We utilise some of these ancient processes in small ways, ensuring that the craft of our pieces is flawless while keeping our jewelry rich in culture.
When I opened my studio it was not just a place of work, it was also a home. We provide a safe and positive environment for our craftspeople to grow and create while achieving their goals, you can feel this positive energy in our pieces. From following strict cleaning processes and monitoring air circulation to making sure the safety of our tools and the instruments is faultless, our studio is committed to happy and healthy craft. We avoid using any harmful chemical materials and are conscious and considerate about using unnecessary energy and excessive water.
What does ethical mean to you? How do you aspire to be more ethical?
An artisan handcrafting the fine details in a Smile necklace
“To me, ethical means creating items that are uniquely your own while ensuring no person or land is harmed in the process.”
Being ethical in controlling your process and being involved in every step of the journey, as much as possible. We are working to ensure the stories behind our pieces are worth sharing, and distinctly ours.
Our long-term goal, as a brand, is to be 100% positive that every step taken in the Hania Kuzbari process is safe for both the environment and the communities involved. We keep evolving, improving and taking necessary steps to do things in more progressive ways. It is a long journey ahead and it will take a lot of hard work, but I am optimistic and driven to make this dream and reality.
If you could call on the jewelry industry to band together to do one thing, what would that be?
“Create a future of slow fashion, in your own unique way.”
Use your voice and your means to strengthen communities and support good causes. This can involve donating to important charities, for example during May and June of this year we donated 15% of all Hania Kuzbari sales to Doctors Without Borders. However, this could also involve sharing your skills. In the past, I have worked with various non-profit organizations teaching jewelry making classes. In 2016 I worked with a non-profit organization called Happiness Again which supports kids facing psychological and physical trauma caused by the Syrian war. I have also worked on a project to empower refugee women by teaching them to make simple jewelry accessories, many of which went on to start their own jewelry businesses.
Create a future of slow fashion, in your own unique way. This means being conscious and aware of the Who, What, Where, When and How. Ensure your work is full of originality and authenticity and spreads a message you are proud of. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for every step taken to create your pieces.
Hania Kuzbari teaching jewelry making for the Happiness Again charity