Just off the coast of Indonesia is a small island called Bali. This island is home to master silversmiths and jewelers that create distinctive and unique jewelry in silver, gold and other metals.
Chinese and Southeast Asian artisans have all influenced the craftsmen of Bali, and that influence is still obvious today. Many of the same designs and motifs can be seen throughout the artwork, but each culture has their own unique contribution. The silversmith families or clans in Bali can often retrace their ancestors back to the Majapahit Empire, and the invasion by the Javanese in the early 16th century. Pandai is the ancient name for the metal smiths, and it means both smith and clever. Many of the legends of the island say that the gods themselves came down to teach the metal workers the art of jewelry making to help to civilize humanity.
Most jewelry in Bali, while originally gold, is now silver. The silver market is more popular worldwide, and the booming demand for exports dictates the production. There are both Balinese and Javanese traditions seen in what is known as Bali jewelry. Balinese silversmiths tend to use small spheres of silver arranged in intricate patterns on a silver background. This technique is called granulation, and provides a sharp contract between the darker background of the natural silver and the highly polished spheres of silver. Javanese silversmiths use fine filigree work on smooth, polished silver background. Most of the Bali jewelry on the market today is a combination of these two traditions.
Bali jewelry is also unique in the way that it combines silver, gems and various metals. The gems and other metals are highlighted against the background of the unpolished silver, to really draw out the highlights of the contrasting elements. In addition to the traditional jewelry, a woven silver and gold style is being produced, and has become very popular in many countries.
Bali jewelry continues to be much sought after and very much in demand. It is important to note that many collectors can identify which silversmith clan produced the particular piece of jewelry simply because of the pattern of granulation that is used on the piece. The patterns are intricate and eye catching, and often incorporate other metals such as gold as well as gems.
In addition to rings, bracelets and pendants, Bali also produces beautiful and unique silver beads. These beads are extremely detailed and intricate, and are used for both commercial jewelry making and home hobby jewelry making.
The exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail has increased the popularity of Bali jewelry. The internet has opened up new markets, and the demand for this beautiful jewelry will only continue to increase.
Cory Willins is a fan of Balinese jewelry, and she writes on many jewelry topics for Jewelry and More. Jewelry and More is a comprehensive resource site for jewelry where you can find a variety of jewelry articles, jewelry forums, jewelry directories and many more resources.