We usually associate Bali with amazing hand-made wooden and stone carvings as well as ornamented jewellery. Interestingly enough, when walking around in this jewellery paradise you don’t see many locals wearing jewellery…
In Bali, jewellery as well as other forms of art did not emerge out of artistically minded people’s need for self-realisation as it is usually the case in other parts of the world but due to particular religious traditions. Namely, there were altogether 800 kingdoms on the small island!
Each kingdom had its own craftsmen’s guild (pande in Indonesian) with their special roles: stonemasons and wood carvers for temples, weavers and fabric dyers for clothmaking etc. They all worked on their art considering this as their sacrifice to gods. And naturally there were also jewellers in each court—silversmiths and goldsmiths crafting ceremonial jewellery for the kings. So, it could be said that the jewellery of Bali is literally of royal descent!
The trade of a silversmith was not taught but passed from father to son within the family. So, the craft of Bali silversmiths embraces the skills and wisdom dating back hundreds of years. And the self-same wisdom, craft and aristocracy are also reflected in our most luxurious collection ‘1001 Nights’—it is entirely made in Bali by the silversmiths who continue the centuries-old traditions.
One of our favourite authors of this collection is a young Bali designer who represents the third generation of his family’s silversmith traditions. Design is his passion—he can draw endless sketches for jewellery inspired by the lush nature in Bali.
Once the design is ready, it is first carved into a 3D wax model which is the basis for the first cast, that is, the master model. If the completed model looks exactly as the designer had imagined it, they will prepare the cast for silver—and this will be the basis for the jewellery.
Our friend’s entire production has been organised with the help of his wife. In addition to the design, he is also responsible for operating the large hot furnace—he knows exactly which temperature is suitable for particular quantities to achieve the best silver quality. There are altogether 50 employees in his little workshop doing their magic in putting the various ornaments together in the jewellery, attaching gems and sanding them to perfection. Each piece of jewellery is hand-made! And each piece of jewellery also has to pass a meticulous quality control.
Making jewellery in Bali is marked by utmost harmony. The daily life in the workshop is accompanied by quiet humming with all their movements calm and unhurried—the general atmosphere in Bali is just so relaxing and inspiring. Our friend said with a laugh that doing business in Bali does not suit Westerners at all—firstly, ‘people from the modern West’ tend to be in a hurry all the time. Secondly, business organisation has its particular nuances, for instance, you always need to hire twice as many people as seems reasonable because half of the locals are attending either a temple event or ceremony and will not appear at work. Traditions obviously come first!
The magic and power of the art of jewellery in Bali stem from the ancient tradition of creating art as a sacrifice to gods and worthy of the royalty… and the given spirit can be felt in the jewellery. This is probably why we like them so much as well. :)