Monday, June 20, 2011

Buy Silver Jewelry in Bali

If you want to buy silver jewelry in Bali, Indonesia, go to an area just north of Denpasar and south of Ubud (pronounced oobood) called Celuk (pronounced chelook). There you will find heaps of small silversmiths and goldsmiths in the back streets as well as the larger ‘westernised’ showrooms on the main drag. Most of the smaller silver and goldsmiths originate from the pande families. Pande means basically, Master of Metal and is the origination of black smithy in Bali.

According to Sidarta Wijaya on his blog.baliwww.com:

"The smiths in Bali are called, generally, pande, the most influntial among them being blacksmiths: pande wesi, or pande besi. The historical importance of their craft, particularly in the shaping of the magically charged and (unfortunately) very practical kris daggers, gave this group of low caste artisans a status that seemed to fall outside the usual dictates of caste. The pande is a small, but very tightly knit clan group in Bali. Although the Pande clan did not exist, even in the earliest days the pande has considerable political power, including the right to seat representatives on the governing bodies of the desa (village). To maintain their position of prestige, the smiths kept their techniques secret and saw it that marriage would take place only within their own professional group. Today, this clan is still fiercely proud, the most conservative in its ranks refusing the religious authority of the Brahmana priest – some, claiming ancestry preceding Hinduism, even creating a sort of hybrid religion of their own."

These days, Bali silver has been somewhat modernised to cater for the western taste. Much is very intricate, containing a lot of delicate and very beautiful filigree and all Bali silver is created by hand. All silver in Bali is, or should be, .925 percent pure with the remaining metal being copper added for durability and hardness. Keep in mind however that it is still delicate and very thin.

Much of the good quality silver jewelry you will find on the internet is made by young people in factories in the Celuk village. As well as small one man shops where you can buy ready made silver jewelry, there are larger places where you can tour the factory and watch young Balinese crouched over small tables creating small filigree earrings and broaches.

One can then visit the display area and see the finished products. In the larger showrooms one can expect to pay western prices usually in US dollars, but in the smaller silversmiths it is possible to spot something you like and haggle for it. To buy silver jewelry in Bali means you have the chance of bargaining or haggling over the price and getting silver jewelry at close to the price of silver. When bargaining start at about 40 percent of the asking price and be firm. You can often get it for 50 or 60 percent.

The smaller smiths do not carry a large range of finished products but will make to order customised pieces. Just be very clear about what you want. The prices are good and you can bargain energetically for a good price but an interpreter is essential to ensure there are no misunderstandings.

Keeping the above in mind and applying some due diligence, it is possible to find some outstanding and beautiful silver pieces if you decide to buy silver jewelry in Bali.

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