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Bali Sterling Silver Beads & Jewelry

Bali is a small island located in Indonesia, a nation of islands.  The Balinese people, who are primarily Hindu, have a long and illustrious history.  Arts and crafts are a significant part of their culture, and among their artisans is a community of highly skilled silversmiths.  While silversmithing is practiced all around the island, there is a concentration of silversmiths in and around Celuk, a village in the south central part of the island.

Bali is known throughout the jewelry world for its sterling silver beads and jewelry.  Balinese silver has a unique look to it, distinguished by its use of soldered granulations and twisted wiring.

As shown in the figure to the right, the Balinese style involves applying little sterling silver dots and wires that have been bent into various forms to a larger base.  The base can be round, oval, square, rectangular, or virtually any other geometric shape.

The silversmith will use a glue from a native berry to attach these granulations and wires to the base. Once he or she (there are many talented female silversmiths in Bali) is satisfied with the layout, every piece is soldered. That's a lot of labor, but this approach leads to a crisp appearance, with much contrast!  

When these components are brought together into a single piece of jewelry, the effect can be stunning! Many Balinese silversmiths make the beads and findings that go into their jewelry, and then assemble the final piece to produce treasures that are truly of their own creation.

The Balinese style is also distinguished by its use of antiquing (induced tarnishing).  Antiquing of the base allows the protruding granulations and wires to stand out.

Silversmithing in Bali, like many of the other arts of the island (wood carving, painting, fabric making, etc.) is a family affair.  Children often apprentice with their parents, passing on skills from generation to generation.

Sadly, the silversmith craft is under attack from outside forces.  Today, it is easy to to find "Bali-style" beads and jewelry made in Indonesia, Turkey and other countries.  These products are essentially copies of Balinese design, and are usually not made up to the same exacting standards of the Balinese people. India, in particular, is producing a lot of imposter Bali silver that is of poor quality.  India's Bali-style silver often makes use of casting, which leads to poorly articulated beads, and is seldom made of sterling silver, although it is usually sold as such.  These low-quality, low-priced cheap imitations have reduced demand for Bali silver, causing hardship for the Balinese people.  If you find Bali silver attractive, buy from a Bali source.  Don't support cultural theft by purchasing imposter jewelry!

History of Silversmith Arts in Bali



Index Of Articles

"Silver 101"
"Sources of Silver"

"Sterling Silver Defined'"
"Silver Standards"

"Silver Marks and Hallmarks"

"Silver Testing Kits"

"The Silversmith"
"Silver Coins"

Plating & Treatments

"Silver Plated Jewelry"
"Gold Vermeil Jewelry"
"Rhodium Plated Sterling"
"Antiqued Silver"

Fake Silver Jewelry

"Alpaca Silver Jewelry"
"German Silver Jewelry"

Silver Jewelry Styles

"Bali Silver"
"Indian Silver"
"Thai Hill Tribe Silver"
"Tibetan Silver"
"Turkish Silver"

Silver Allergies

"Silver/Nickel Sensitivities"
"Hypoallergenic Jewelry"

Recent Developments

"Argentium® Sterling Silver"

"Silver PMC®"

"The Origins of Tarnish"

"Tarnish Removal"

"Firescale (Firestain)"

"Proper Silver Storage"

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