Silver is a precious metal mined from the Earth’s bowels and often used to make beautiful jewellery. Like gold, it has a distinct lustre though it is not as costly. The jewellery handcrafted from silver contains varying percentages of silver metal mixed with an alloy. Rarely do you find pure silver in a piece of jewellery? That is because pure silver while very precious and beautiful also happens to be brittle and hard to manipulate by the artisan. It cannot be moulded into intricate patterns. The silver needs to have some fillers added to it to make it more malleable and ductile for that to take place. Then it can be better moulded according to the heart’s desire.
The Sophistication of Silver
Among the world’s most intricate and beautiful jewellery is Bali silver jewellery. This contains less silver content than Thai silver jewellery, but it has more intricate patterns to it. Whereas Thai silver has a lot of silver content (95% to 98%), Bali silver contains 6% to 3% less silver content than Thai silver jewellery. It is indeed a paradox that whereas Thai silver is more precious, it is also more straightforward in its design due to the problematic nature of the medium. Bali silver is far more elaborate in its complexity. Also, it is stronger in its material strength. Yet there is another catch to Bali silver, and that is that it can become dark with time very quickly. This is a downside, but you forget about any such drawbacks when you notice this jewellery’s exquisite beauty.
Style & Elegance
Whereas Thai silver is made into such patterns as plant leaves and snail shells, Bali silver is twisted and turned by the silversmiths into points, borders and various ornate designs. Bali silver is shaped and handcrafted in a very detailed manner. The artisans doing the delicate artistry have to be very careful lest a moment of blunder ruin hours of dedicated work. Bali silversmithing has been a steady industry since the past two and a half millennia. Bali has always been famous for its gold and silver products which the tribes reside there specialize in.
A Method in the Making
Bali’s artisans concentrate on carving their silver jewellery with the same effort to celebrate a traditional or religious function. First, a series of tiny points (granulation is the name given to this process requiring patience) and thin wires are connected with a base. Very rudimentary instruments are used to accomplish this task. The silver bullets are melted with borax to purify them. Then come the moulds into which this molten silver is poured. These, in turn, are flattened and rolled with tools to get the right dimensions. A hand saw is used to slice the silver into different forms. Finally, imprints and beating tools are used to round the edges. A tamarind fruit with a sponge-like consistency is employed to burnish the silver to add some finishing touches. This process converts the silver into a darker shade of grey, further rubbed to lend some shine to the metal. The result is some of the most divine designs anyone could gaze upon with sheer delight and pleasure.
The Lore Behind the Legend
There is a great deal of mythology and legendary folklore behind Bali silver making. Tales have been passed down the generations regarding how the Hindu gods descended upon this Earthly plane to instruct humanity in civilization’s jewellery-making arts. After the Islamic Conquest of Java, the Hindu population migrated to Bali where their silversmithing skills continue today.