Tag Archives: silver

Inspired by Nature. Designed for Today.

Karen Orchid Necklace

Karen Silver Jewellery: necklaces, pendants, earrings and rings. Highly individualistic, superbly crafted, finely designed – each piece a conversation stopper! Hand-crafted by the Karen hill tribe, this silver jewellery combines aspects of their native culture and natural environment with modern designs, styled for the woman of today.  And you can practically see evidence of each piece having been formed by the hands of a Karen craftsman. These pieces are not usually hallmarked in any way, but there is absolutely no doubt as to their origins or authenticity. Because, only the Karen can make silver jewellery this beautiful!

The Karen People

The Karen hill tribes are from amongst Thai and Burmese hill tribes, originally from Tibet, and whose ancestry can be traced back to the 12th century AD. The largest group from around 20 hill tribes, the Karen population presently numbers over seven million spread across the Union of Myanmar (Burma) …

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Chiang Mai Shopping

Hmong Market

A trip to Chiang Mai was long overdue. Over eight years had passed since I was first there and over three years since I moved to Bangkok. Living in Thailand, it’s hard to escape the allure of Chiang Mai. Every Bangkokian tells you how it’s a shopping haven, a creative paradise and a beautiful, peaceful place. So when Nisha asked if I could go there for a few days to source for Arastan, the decision was easy.

Chiang Mai is the creative cradle of Thailand. Nestled in a valley surrounded by the Doi Inthanon mountain range in the northwestern part of the country, it’s the second largest city in Thailand. Yet, time moves much slower there. The verdant mountains and misty cloudy sky create the perfect backdrop to the slow paced, relaxed vibe of the city. Upon my arrival, I wandered through the town, covering the major section on foot, …

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Next Stop Burma (Myanmar)

Beautiful Uzbek Ikat

We are a bit like Aladdin’s Cave at the moment – Uzbek ikat, an eclectic mix of Indian tribal and ethnic silver jewellery (very different to the Rajasthani pendants) and Ajanta ceramic tiles have all arrived in the last two days.

I have wanted to travel to Burma/Myanmar for as long as I can remember and it is hard to believe I will be there in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately too much going on to add Southern China so that may have to wait. Alternatively, I could do a quick reconnaissance to tempt all those who may want to visit.  The Chinese ethnic tribes produce the most gorgeous craft as those of you who bought the batik and embroidered baby carrier pieces from us well know. How can I resist?!

Oh and yes, some great press coverage for Arastan and lots of responses to the Content Writer post we are looking to fill. …

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Caring for Silver Jewellery

Coinciding with the launch of the Malakeh Collection, here is some information about caring for your silver jewellery, put together for us by Puja Bhargava Kamath of Lai.

Wear your jewellery as often as possible: jewellery tarnishes less when it is worn. The key to having silver jewellery look good for the longest time is not to wet it. If it does get wet, wipe with a soft dry cloth as soon as you can. Do not scrub or use detergent. Exposure to chemicals including perfumes is harmful, so best to spray perfume prior to putting on your jewellery. Chlorine and bromine in pools and hot tubs are particularly damaging to stones and metal so avoid wearing jewellery in the pool, tub or sauna. Store silver jewellery in re-sealable plastic pouches, zip-lock bags or soft cloth pouches. Each piece should be kept in an individual pouch to avoid scratches and …

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Jewellery That Speaks

Niello Cross Pendant

The Berbers wear only silver. It has something to do with silver being the preferred metal of the prophet. Archival pictures show Berber women completely laden with the most unbelievable silver adornment. Today of course, these images are fewer thanks to the skyrocketing price of silver, but still, jewellery continues to be important, not just for its decorative value. It has protective symbolism, it is the family’s bank, to be melted and traded in lean times, bought and remade in good. The jewellery a woman wears is a symbol of her family’s status and wealth. So, interestingly, the woman and not the man is the family financier plus showpiece and bearer of its reputation.

Design of Berber jewellery is strongly influenced by the ancient Berber script, Tifinagh, based on which Berber languages are written. The characters in Tifinagh reflect a simple geometry of corners, circles, triangles and dots. This abstract …

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Marrakech and Tiznit

Touareg style Berber Silver Pendant

My last few days have been in Marrakech with a mad day trip to Tiznit which is the last major town before the Western Sahara. It was so worth the hours of driving. Most women were dressed in what can only be described as saris but shorter with the pallu wrapped around the head and over the face so only the eyes show. Others had on traditional skirts with white embroidered dupattas covering their hair and faces. All very different from the djellaba I had seen elsewhere. I so wanted to take a photograph but thought it too culturally insensitive. The silver was overwhelming in choice and quantity. It’s understandable but sad to see Berber families coming to sell their family silver (gold is considered evil so this is their wealth), presumably to buy the cheap “Made in China” goods being sold on the streets. I couldn’t understand the negotiations …

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Bronze Lamps, Berber Silver – and Nougat!

Hanging Lamps

In Fes I went to the lamp store I had in mind from the last time I was here. I passed the Place an-Nejjarine that has one of the many beautifully decorated fountains and a restored fondouk that is now a museum. At the Carpenters’ Souk just next to the fountain I saw some of the extravagant thrones used in weddings; these thrones make our Indian red velvet ones look modest!

I spent the greater part of the day haggling and now have some stunning Moroccan handmade bronze lamps on their way to India. While waiting for the owner’s brother or brother-in-law or partner (I really do need to learn some Arabic or French!) I wandered off to check what the other stores had to offer. Nougat was what I found. The lady spoke no English but after discussion using a calculator (if you don’t speak the local language, don’t leave …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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