We were recently given the opportunity to try out NOVICA.com, an online marketplace specializing in handmade goodies by talented artists and artisans from around the globe. We thoroughly enjoyed reading the in-depth bios and "meeting" the various artists as we browsed the broad selection of handcrafted leather bags, paintings, home decor, fashions, and jewelry - which covered a wide range of pricepoints starting at around the $20 mark and on up. And when our necklace arrived, it was carefully wrapped in layers of tissue paper and nestled in a beautiful handmade-paper box with a note from the artist: the lovely Matta Nandrakwang. A gemology school graduate, she was born in Chiang Rai - the northernmost province in Thailand (next to Burma) - a region rich with gems which helped spark her lifelong passion for bling. "Ever since I was a young girl, I have been enamored with the hill tribe people's love of jewelry," she explains in her bio. "I regularly saw people around me wearing jewelry. I recall seeing a hill tribe girl my age, seven at the time, wearing beautiful silver jewelry accessorizing her colorful costume. She had silver coins hanging around her face, more silver ornaments on her, as well as beautiful beads. I couldn't take my eyes off her! I don't remember exactly what I said to my father about her, but remember clearly that afterwards I got my first gold ring with a little blue star sapphire. I felt I was on top of the world."