Jewelery, Gold & Silver
Craftsmen highly skilled in cutting and setting precious stones have turned Thailand into the jewelry centre of Asia, farmed for the quality and intricate detail of its designs. Rubies and sapphires are mined in Kanchanaburi and Chanthaburi provinces, where communities have established small cutting and design centres. Other stones such as onyx, zircon, jade and opal are also found in Thailand, as are an abundance of semi-precious stones that small producers turn into chunky necklaces, bracelets and belts. Recently Thailand has developed a heat treatment for creating unique colours in gemstones.
Gold has been part of Thai life for 2000 years, as a valued trading commodity with great religious significance, used in forging Budda images. Later it enjoyed royal connections during the Ayutthaya period when skilled artisans created superb golden ornaments for the royal family. Today these remarkable skills go onto producing wonderful jewelry necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets. Imaginative modern settings include the dipping of orchids and insects in gold for broaches.
The best silver jewelry is found in Chiang Mai and Surin provinces, where the influences of neighbouring countries have led to thriving industries. Nomadic hilltribes in northern Thailand wear silver ornaments as part of their tribal dress, using their generations of artistry to create necklaces, bracelets, belts and earrings that can be bought in Chiang Mai markets. Surin’s communities have inherited Khmer skills od crafting silver accessories in the pra keub style, in which small silver beads are embellished an linked into a variety of silver jewelry and accessories.