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Nari Jewelry: Creating Minimalist Baha’i-Inspired Pieces

March 31, 2024, in Images > Fashion & Jewellery, by

We interviewed Naree Chan about “Sing out the Songs of Joy”, a prayer book and musical initiative for children, but this time we want to focus on her family love of jewellery and adornment and her company called Nari Jewelry. Before we get to hearing from Naree about the purpose and mission of her shop and what inspires its designs and creations, here is a small sampling of its pieces:

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Could you tell us a little bit about Nari Jewelry?

Naree Chan

Nari Jewelry is an online jewellery store specializing in minimalist Baha’i and Baha’i-inspired pieces. We are a husband and wife team based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we have two small children. Our store is named “Nari,” which means “women” in Sanskrit, because we donate 9% of all profits to organizations dedicated to empowering women. Since we began Nari Jewelry in 2015, we have donated over $5,000 to several women-led or women serving organizations, including the Tahirih Justice Center to serve immigrant survivors of gender-based violence, Sogorea’ Te Land Trust to restore indigenous land, the Sugar Heal Gang to support their Black Maternal Health Fund, and the Center for Empowering Refugees & Immigrants (CERI) to provide mental health services. 

Many of our Baha’i symbol pendants and necklaces are designed to be versatile with double sided engravings of the Baha’i ringstone symbol and Greatest Name in Arabic. All of our necklaces and bracelets have built in extensions for easy adjustment and layering. The ringstone symbol used in our Baha’i rings features the Haykal (Arabic: هيكل Translation: temple) or elongated five-pointed star to represent the Manifestation of God. We also carry nine pointed Baha’i star earrings, pendants, and necklaces, as well Baha’i burial rings in English, Arabic, and soon Spanish.

Could you please tell us a little about the craft of jewellery making and how it has been a part of your family?

As a child growing up behind the counters of our family jewellery store in Memphis, Tennessee, I remember learning patience from slowly slipping pearls onto strands of silk, determination from pulling the knots closely, and joyfulness when the final loop was secured and a necklace was formed. I witnessed gratitude when a customer happily strapped their watch back on after I replaced their battery. My mother taught me the importance of treating customers like family by providing complimentary jewellery cleaning and sharing traditional Cambodian scarves from our homeland. My father instilled a love for jewellery designing in me by asking for my opinion on which gemstones should be featured in his fanciful handiworks like a butterfly pin with pear shaped rubies and marquise sapphires. After I began my own family, my parents retired and closed down their jewellery store, but I have inherited the pliers and cutters from his old jewellery bench and use them regularly to make adjustments for clients when needed. 

What inspires you to create? What inspires your designs?

Abdu’l-Baha states, “It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection.” As a mother, I see my children’s attraction to all things bright and beautiful in this world. It is often on our family’s nature walks in the redwood forest that I am inspired by the shape of a leaf, flower, or dewdrop. I heavily rely upon the Baha’i Writings to find a befitting name for our pieces and cultivate a deeper insight and connection to our Creator and the Baha’i Faith through nature inspired pieces. 

For example, our Twin Leaves emerald earrings remind us of two important women in the Baha’i Faith, the Most Exalted Leaf — Asiyih Khanum, the wife of Baha’u’llah — and the Greatest Holy Leaf — Bahiyyih Khanum, daughter of Baha’u’llah and sister of Abdu’l-Baha, who are explored in the book Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees by Baharieh Ma’ani.

In the process of serving as a teacher in our neighborhood children’s virtues class, our Radiant Heart Baha’i symbol necklace  is named after the quote for the first virtue “Purity of Heart” from Bahaʼuʼllah: “O Son of Spirit, my first counsel is this possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.”

Our Precious Pearls necklace and bracelet set are named after this passage from Abdu’l-Baha in Paris Talks: “All those who seek truth in the Heavenly Kingdom shine like the stars; they are like fruit trees laden with choice fruit, like seas full of precious pearls.” 

The Steadfast Service ringstone ring is inspired by this quote from Shoghi Effendi: “Now is the time for steadfastness. Now is the ripe moment for the stalwart warriors and champions to show forth courage and to demonstrate their heroism in the arena of service . . .”

Finally, the beautiful nine petalled flowers on the door to the Shrine of Baha’u’llah have inspired our Petals of Paradise earrings.

I look forward to sharing our 2024 Spring Collection featuring creatures from the animal kingdom referenced in the Baha’i writings — the peacock and lioness — as well as the illuminating skylight from the International Teaching Centre.

What spiritual principles inform your business?

As the daughter of Khmer Rouge survivors practicing Buddhism and operating a small business in the United States, I have many memories and stories of spiritual principles in action in a brick and mortar setting. While these learnings form a strong foundation of practical business practices, as a member of the Baha’i Faith since 2007, I am still learning about the “economic dimension of social existence,” as encouraged by the The Universal House of Justice in its 1 March 2017 letter to the Baha’is of the World. From early consultations with my spiritual sister Elika Mahony in 2015 to my more recent participation in the Association for Baha’i Studies (ABS) Reading Group on “The Nature of Work: Perspectives of Race, Gender, Education, and Justice,” I have been working to translate into action the coherence demanded in each business decision.  

“Every choice a Baha’i makes—as employee or employer, producer or consumer, borrower or lender, benefactor or beneficiary—leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.”

– The Universal House of Justice, 1 March 2017 letter to the Baha’is of the World

In light of this guidance, we pivoted towards recycled metals for our jewelry, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper for our packaging, and eco friendly mailers. We also consciously chose to support other women businesses. Our first photographer and business consultant Emily Kim really assisted us in expanding our Etsy shop to our own website, and our current Baha’i photographer Jasmin Kemp has patiently captured our newest collection. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve the Baha’i community in this unique and humbling way. Thank you to our many friends who have supported us along this incredible journey!

Thank you so much, Naree, for taking the time to share this with us!

You can purchase pieces from Nari Jewelry online.

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

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