Lost Cities Beads- A Place For the Unique

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Treasures in Silver

This past week we sent out our holiday newsletter that highlighted a handful of things we find to be really special and unique in the store. One thing we highlighted that I think deserves a little more explanation is one of my favorites, the antique bracelets and bangles.

The majority of our antique bracelets and cuffs come from the northwestern state of India called Rajasthan. For centuries Rajasthan has been known as home to some of the best silver workers in the world. Since silver was readily available in the region these bracelets have a high silver content (about 90% silver).

It can be tricky to accurately age these bracelets because the traditional decorative designs used were repeated for centuries. That means that even though the bracelet is only 100 years old, the design can be 600+ years old. The pieces we carry were made in the early-mid 19th century, making the newest pieces over 100 years old.

See that hole at the top? It's common for these bracelets to have screws that fit into both sides of the bracelet making it extra secure around the wearers wrist.

The details on some of these bracelets are amazing! Look at the close up on the end of this bangle. Some people see an intricate design, some people see a face staring back at them!

These cuffs are particularly interesting. These beautifully decorated pieces are made from door panels that had adorned Mughal palaces.

Check out that amazing silver work! Can you imagine and entire door panel made with these stylized peacock designs? Surely palace worthy if you ask me.

Unlike India, Yemen did not have a ready supply of raw silver. Instead, they resorted to melting down coins to cast their pieces (shown above). In fact, you can still see the imprint of an unmelted coin on the center piece of one of these bracelets (below).

Because Yemeni metal smiths were using coin silver, the silver content of these bracelets ended up being about 80% silver. These bracelets were made during the early-mid 19th century, making the newest pieces over 100 years old.

We couldn't forget this little weapon of a bracelet. This bracelet is Burmese and was made by the Shan people during the late 18th to early 19th century. It is unique because the Shan people (who were traveling silversmiths) often catered to other tribal groups making village specific designs, not their own. This bracelet, however, is a reflection of the Shans personal style. Measuring at only 2.5 inches at the widest point this bracelet is looking for a very special person to become it's new owner.

This is just a small representation of what we have available. If you find your self in the area, come in and check them out. See for yourself why we love them so much!