Garden Isle Originals: Unique Gifts From Kaua‘i

Posted in: Culture & History, Shopping

Return home with the gift of a Kaua‘i original and watch as your loved ones turn to you with a smile that says, “It’s perfect!”

Ni‘ihau Shell Lei

Ni‘ihau shell lei made with tiny shells from the Forbidden Island [Photo HTA / Tor Johnson]

It’s said that Hawaiian heirloom jewelry got its start when Queen Kapi‘olani and Princess Lili‘uokalani returned from attending Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in England in 1887 with gifts of solid gold bracelets with their names etched in Old English lettering filled with black enamel.

However, according to Philip Rickard, founder and owner of Philip Rickard in Honolulu, the bracelet that Queen Lili‘uokalani wore throughout her lifetime was handcrafted by Honolulu-based jeweler Christian Eckart in 1862. It was etched with the words, “Ho‘omana‘o Mau,” or “A Lasting Remembrance.”

For more than 70 years, Robert’s Jewelry has fulfilled its customers’ needs for all things jewelry, particularly Hawaiian heirloom jewelry. Known for their integrity and great prices, this long-time shop offers custom Hawaiian heirloom jewelry, Tahitian black pearls, and 14kt gold and sterling silver in necklaces, bracelets, pendants, chains and rings. Also work with the professional jewelers to create your own wedding bands and engagement rings. Robert’s also offers jewelry and watch repairs. 

The County of Kaua‘i’s official “Kaua‘i Made” program ensures that every product with its unique seal meets strict guidelines. And Melissa Sugai is the person who ensures that.

"The program has been around for about 12 years,” shares Sugai, “and I’ve been with the program about six years. In that time, I’ve met many Kaua‘i residents and have had the opportunity to sit and hear their stories about their products. I conduct all the interviews to assure the product is made on Kaua‘i, by the people of Kaua‘i.” 

 She also goes into the field to ensure the logo is being used properly so that the program’s integrity is kept intact.

 When asked if she has a favorite product, Sugai is diplomatic, saying that all are unique products. And they are! “My favorite part about the program is sitting with each applicant and hearing their stories of how they created their product, whether it’s from growing up surrounded by it, or later in their years finding their niche. This is how we verify the value of the product—by their story. If you make the product, you can tell the story.” 

 When you buy local, know that you’re supporting and providing opportunities for growth for our local creators, growers and producers, as well as supporting our island economy. Mahalo!


[A version of this article can be found in print in the pages of This Week Kaua‘i]


Keywords: shopping kauai souvenirs kauai shell necklace Niihau shells kauai made shops at kukuiula Roberts jewelers kauai products gift shops 


Ni‘ihau shell lei made with tiny shells from the Forbidden Island [Photo HTA / Tor Johnson]


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