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The Crown Jewels an Education on Buying Jewellery in Bali

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The Crown Jewels an Education on Buying Jewellery in Bali

Balinese jewellery has a worldwide reputation for being intricate, affordable and high quality – but as with any precious purchase, it pays to be cautious as you navigate the ever-growing Bali jewellery market.

The great news is that there are still some wonderful jewellers and workshops where you can pick up unique gold and silver designs – or even commission your own piece. This is especially relevant if you’re planning on throwing a Bali wedding!

THE HISTORY OF BALINESE JEWELRY MAKING

Smiths have been making jewellery in Bali for more than 400 years. They used to only work with gold for the royal family, creating decorative boxes and bowls for various ceremonies. These days, chunky gold men’s rings set with precious stones are still a status symbol in Balinese society. However, in the last 50 years, as tourism grew, the demand for silver jewellery grew with it.

As it stands, there are four basic types of Balinese Jewelry to investigate. Antique is jewellery that is over 100 years old, and it’s quite rare to find any on the island. Vintage jewellery is anything that’s over 20 years old; tribal jewellery is crafted in a more mythical, ceremonial style and lastly you’ll see what’s known as modern jewellery ranges in most of the retail shops.

MARKING AND STAMPS

The markings stamped into the inside of rings, necklaces and bracelets are the fastest way to authenticate each piece of jewellery. If they are modern pieces, they’ll likely have what are called ‘makers marks’ which may include company names, designer signatures or logos.
If they are more traditional pieces, it’s best to rely on the purity markings which are as follows:

GOLD

On any piece of modern gold, you can expect to find two or three-digit numbers followed by the letter (k)’. The K refers to karats, of course. Pure gold will say (24K), so if the etching says (18k), you know it’s only 75% pure. Watch out for pieces marked Vermeil – this means the jewellery is silver with a gold plate.

SILVER

Similar etchings can be found on silver. Ultimately you’re looking for sterling silver which should have a (925) marking made in the metal. With silver, the two things to watch out for are the names German or Nickel silver. These are actually made of copper or even nickel.

BALINESE JEWELLRY MAKING TECHNIQUES

Balinese jewellery making is a little like Batik painting, a lengthy and intricate process where several different techniques are used. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common styles so you’ll know what you’re looking at and can negotiate the price of these delicate designs with confidence.

 

SNAKE WAVES

Just as it sounds, smiths making snake weaves will pull sterling silver through holes in a sturdy jewellers board. The resulting long spaghetti-like strands are then weaved together and oxidized for colour and polished for variation. Snake weave is commonly found in men’s bracelets and necklaces.

BOROBUDUR

This is perhaps the most intricate of all of the styles of Balinese jewellery design. The smith creates a coil from silver wire then adds a pattern of rings and links to the piece. They sit very close together, and the final chain is polished to accentuate the spaces in between the rings.

GRANULATION

Granulation involves tiny silver balls being added to a base piece of jewellery. The effect is to accentuate the precious gemstone in the centre of the existing piece. It involves dexterity and patience as each sphere, or tiny ball is soldered on individually.

DOT TECHNIQUE

This can be considered the next stage after granulation; in short, it involves hammering down the balls into flat discs. The result is almost a polka dot pattern but much more subtle.

PROTECTING YOURSELF AS A JEWELLERY BUYER

Only visit reputable jewellers:

Forgery is an issue in Bali, and fake pieces are often just as expensive as the real thing. Make sure you avoid this by visiting a Pegadaian. This is a government-marked dealer of high-quality gold and silver jewellery. If you’ve purchased something somewhere else that you suspect is a little ‘iffy’ you can also bring it to one of these shops for authentication.

Bring your own gems:

This is for those planning to commission a piece. Bring your own! Gems and precious stones are more expensive than you would think because Indonesia doesn’t source that many. However, you can usually get a great deal on crystals and semi-precious stones.

7 PLACES TO BUY EXCELLENT JEWELRY

This wouldn’t be a Bali blog if it didn’t come with some recommendations! Jewellery buying is such a subjective task, but here are some of our favourite places on the island. Each of them has been chosen for high-quality design, style and price. Take a look at their websites below and happy shopping!

www.aumrudraksha.com
www.jemmebali.com
www.shoptulola.com
www.anandasoul.com

www.johnhardy.com
www.kapal-laut.com
www.krystleknightjewellery.com

MAKE MEMORIES AS PRECIOUS AS DIAMONDS

Many tourists visit Bali for shopping or surfing, but one thing that beats both of those is the chance to truly relax and forget all of your worries. Renting a villa in a peaceful spot of paradise is SO much better than staying in a hotel, so don’t miss out! Here are a selection of luxe hideaways villa for you to book for your upcoming trip.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

31 October 2019

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