On the south end of Bali in Sukawati, Gianyar, generations of male and female silversmiths and jewelry craftsmen live in the small Celuk Village. Over the past few decades, Celuk Village has become internationally praised for the high-quality handicrafts and the distinctive granulation of the silver and gold jewelry produced by its native artisans.
Artisans, especially silversmiths, have long been central to Balinese culture. To this day, silversmiths use traditional techniques, motifs and patterns that trace back to early Southeast Asian and Southern Chinese artisans.
The practice of silversmithing in Celuk is highly celebrated in the local community and by tourists around the world. It is common to see many native homes in Celuk Village functioning as family compounds that incorporate family-owned silver jewelry galleries, metal workshop facilities, housing for the whole family, and even housing for gallery employees.
For their silversmithing, Bali silversmiths import silver and semi precious stones from other countries such as China, South America and the Java Island. To create their signature Balinese Sterling Silver, silversmiths melt and mix silver and copper to create a 92.5 sterling silver block or plate. There are also a small group of silver craftsmen who use Panchaloha, or five-metal alloys of sacred significance commonly used for making Hindu temple murtis (stone figures of gods) and jewelry. Artisans using the five-metal alloys believe these metals contain mystical and energetic properties to enhance spiritual transformation and ancestral devotion.
What makes Balinese Sterling Silver jewelry aesthetically distinct is its meticulous and ornately detailed design. These designs often incorporate motifs inspired by native plant shapes, animals, natural panorama ideology, and other Balinese art and culture.
To further its distinct quality, Balinese artisans use natural resources to create an abrasive glue only found in Bali. Known to locals as the “traditional balinese glue”, this native abrasive is a combination of the nectar found in the red piling-piling seed and a small amount of water. The traditional glue stabilizes the jewelry’s pattern before each artisan solders the wire or silver granules to the silver plate, creating its beautifully unique design. Even Balinese solder itself is unqiue; it is made with minimal materials consisting of silver granules, water, and borax.
Once the design and soldering is finished, the sanding, polishing, and patina process begins! In traditional Balinese silver, artisans like to exaggerate the intricate design with silver acid to create the patina look.
From raw material to finish, our Balinese Collection celebrates and features four traditional Balinese techniques: Granulation, Naga Chain, Basket Weave, Filigree and the Balinese Carving Technique. Each piece is hand picked to showcase Balinese silver’s distinct jewelry design and culture.
Balinese silver’s distinguishing feature is granulation. For granulation, silversmiths create a tiny silver wire, cut pieces from it, and melt the pieces down into small spheres. These steps must go quickly in order to produce spheres that are the same size and shape. Finally, silversmiths use the spheres to decorate jewelry in remarkably detailed designs that pay homage to their home’s natural beauty.
Another trademark of Balinese jewelry is the Tulang Naga, or Naga Chain. The sleek chain gets its look and name from Buddhist and Hindu mythology’s scaly Naga serpents. When it comes to crafting the naga chain, silversmiths pull silver through holes to create smooth wires. Next, silversmiths weave the wires together into a chain and finish by oxidizing and polishing their work.
Celuk jewelry craftsmen also employ the basket weave, a technique that results in gorgeous, thickly-textured jewelry. To create the basket weave, craftsmen cross silver strands in a style that resembles the woven patterns of the baskets Balinese Hindus use to present offerings at their temples.
Filigree is another technique of Balinese jewelry. Filigree consists of carefully placing small spheres (usually silver, and sometimes gold) among the threads of finely woven metal wires to recreate the intricacies of lace.
Balinese Carving Technique:
In addition to jewelry, wood carving is another integral Balinese craft. Balinese wood carving began in the 12th century and was solely practiced for the purpose of crafting Hindu and Buddhist spiritual objects. Today, wood carving is also used to make decorations and has even made its mark on jewelry. To craft the carved look, jewelry craftsmen use a chisel to carve patterns onto piece of sheet metal that is pressed into a black pitch base. Doing so aids the craftsmen in expertly replicating the richly dark, deep lines of traditional wood carving.
Balinese Bliss Collection
Indonesia’s rich silversmith tradition is personified through Made Lastri. We invite you to check out Made Lastri’s work as seen in our Balinese Bliss Collection.