Natalie Frigo: passionately hand made jewelry

Not all business owners like to get their hands involved in the nitty-gritty of their regular business operations, but for jewelry-maker Natalie Frigo the opposite is actually the case.

Since launching her business by natalie frigo, she has enjoyed handcrafting and hand-designing her pieces, which include rings, bracelets, and earrings among other things. She’s also made sure to include only ethically-sourced materials in her works, going beyond just avoiding conflict-free gems and metals and actively sourcing from mines that ensure ethical working conditions and limit environmental damage. All of this has led to works of jewelry that are both beautiful to the eye and good to the heart.

I reached out to Natalie herself to learn more about her artistic inspiration, her views on sustainability, and the joy she gets from designing jewelry.

Q. What originally inspired you to get into the jewelry space?

I have loved jewelry for as long as I can remember, particularly the idea of having the opportunity to wear small sculptures and works of art every day. I have also always been enamored by gemstones: the different intensities of color, how they are cut, what their texture is like. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I began making jewelry, that I discovered how much I loved designing. I began by making jewelry for myself, then friends and family. After that, I couldn’t stop.

In the photo: The Antler Story Credit: By / Natalie Frigo

Q. What kinds of inspirations rely on when designing your jewelry?

I describe the inspiration for my jewelry as Art Deco by way of Ancient Egyptian, Etruscan, and Native American art. I am particularly enchanted by the way these cultures depict nature in their jewelry. It’s a fine line to walk when trying to replicate nature, as too much of one element can make your work look overtly literal, and too much of another can make it sentimental. Somehow, these cultures keep their representations of nature refined. I try to emulate this poeticism in my work as well.

Big cats have inspired humans for thousands of years, and I am no exception! I am fascinated by how graceful and athletic they are. I also have cats, which are endlessly entertaining and inspiring. Sometimes I feel like I have professional gymnasts in my apartment, leaping and pouncing throughout the day.

I am also in awe of birds for the most obvious reason: they can fly! Sometimes a flock of birds will fly by my studio window and work comes to a halt to watch them. They are incredibly delicate, but also really menacing with their very sharp beaks and claws. To me, they are a perfect combination of beauty and uncertainty. They could be effortlessly flying, but they could also attack you and take out your eye!

Q. What does sustainability mean to you and by/ natalie frigo?

Using recycled metals, ethically sourced stones, and doing all the work in the United States means that all of the people involved in each step of the process are treated humanely (earning a living wage and working in safe conditions). In addition, using only recycled and ethically sourced materials can limit what supplies you can use, and it costs more money to make something responsible.

But all of these factors pay off exponentially, as I can make things that people will always feel great about owning.

In the photo: Natalie Frigo Claws Credit: By / Natalie Frigo

Q. What is by/ natalie frigo’s process of sourcing ethical and conflict-free gems and stones like?

I am lucky to have three gemstone dealers that exclusively carry ethically sourced stones. They’re pioneers in the industry, and they’re constantly searching for ways to improve it. I treasure these gemstone dealers and their diligence in presenting the most beautiful stones, always with a consciousness of the footprint gems leave on the world.

There are many labor abuses that can take place: from the mine, to the stonecutters and lapidaries that are often no more than children, to generally unsafe working conditions and exploitive practices (non-living wages, forced labor). When a stone is ethically sourced, there is full transparency in getting the stone from the earth to you, so that we can be comfortable that everyone involved was treated well.

Q. What is the future of by natalie frigo in your eyes?

My hope for all of my work is to create something full of unique beauty that my clients can treasure for years. I have started hand fabricating more of my jewelry, and it is very exciting to make each piece by hand, allowing for subtle differences and one-of-a-kind jewelry. The more my jewelry is a statement piece the more I have succeeded!

Editors Note: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

About the Author /

Mohamad Akef is an Impakter columnist and fan of Egyptian football. When he’s not watching a match he enjoys creative writing and outdoor hiking, and is currently studying for his MBA at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley

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