Novica Artistry

I’m going through a cuff bracelet phase. I’ve had two for a couple years that I’ve worn off and on, and a few months ago, I started finally really digging their style.

[It generally takes me a while to catch up to fashion. For all I know, maybe the cuff phase is over.]

During the Christmas season, I found that Nordstrom had some beautiful bracelets that were heavily discounted. Score. I bought three online.

A couple of weeks ago, I found a wide, stretchy bracelet while I was grocery shopping at, of all places, Walmart. It was clearly from somewhere else in the store, but someone had discarded it near the eye makeup remover so, after it caught my eye, I picked it up, inspected it and ended up tossing it in my cart. I have yet to really figure out what it’s made of, but it looks like a metal cuff bracelet — just with the convenience of stretch. And while it looks heavy-duty, it’s not — and I fully expect that someday I’ll wash my hands in the ladies room, accidentally splash it with water and suddenly it (and my wrist) will be green. But whatever, it was on clearance for $1.97 — who am I to judge?

Shortly after my Walmart find, I went to Overstock.com (shameless plug) to see what I could find there. In a word? Tons! Three more items ended up in my cart, all at super fabulous prices.

There clearly isn’t a cuff-style bracelet I won’t purchase.

Two from Overstock came within a day of each other, and I realized about a week after ordering it that the third was lagging a bit. I thought I’d give it a little time to show up, and I truthfully had forgotten about it entirely until my mom came by for a visit and alerted me that there was a small box on my front porch.

Sure enough, it was the third cuff bracelet.

I opened the box and was overwhelmed by its beauty. It looked nice enough on the site, but it had a simple, handmade simplicity in person that could never be conveyed online.

Along with forgetting that it had yet to arrive, I also forgot that it was sold through an online, fair-trade marketplace called Novica that connects buyers with thousands of artisans around the world. In conjunction with National Geographic, Novica offers jewelry, home decor, sculptures, handbags, clothing — lots of things that are incredibly beautiful.

When it arrived on my doorstep, it was in a small, plain brown box. Upon opening it, I pulled out a sturdy, slightly smaller box which fit snugly inside the first, and which was covered in rich silk fabric.

The bracelet I’d ordered was inside, and as I pulled it out to marvel at its detail, I smelled what I thought was a campfire. It warmed me from the inside out, and I could envision artists hard at work on their craft with simple, old world tools at their disposal. I smelled the bracelet and that’s exactly where the scent was coming from. It was distressed leather, with a delicate floral design punched into the entire length. To close, one end tucked simply inside the other. It was breathtaking.

I wondered about the artist, and I wondered how long it took to make. I wondered whether it was a he or a she, if they had a family, and if they were young or old. Whoever they were, they had a beautiful craft to show off to the world, and I was holding a bit of it in my hands.

Tonight I am thankful for such a platform that affords artists around the world a chance to showcase their beautiful creations. I can’t imagine how much beauty and wonder of these simple, handcrafted items we’d be missing out on if this was pre-Internet. Traveling to Africa, Mexico, Bali or Argentina to see and purchase them is one thing, but for people who don’t have the means to travel, the online experience is a close second. What a world we live in where experiencing and having the chance to buy these things and support the livelihood of another is just a click away.

If you have a moment, please visit novica.com and spend some time taking in their unique items — I think you’ll be hard-pressed to not find beauty in the items you see.

And if you wind up with a full cart, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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