Ye Min Paing joined a goldsmith workshop as a teenager and learned how to create simple designs for earrings, chains and rings. Unfortunately, he had to put this career on pause after only a short time in order to help his mother with her work. Recently, Ye Min Paing was able to return to his craft, joining Turquoise Mountain as an apprentice in their jewellery workshop and graduating from their apprenticeship program last year.
For centuries, Myanmar goldsmiths were renowned for their hand-crafted jewellery. Nowadays, complex decorative designs using handmade filigree, open-wire work, and other traditional methods are hard to find and machine-made production dominates the offering. The skills needed to craft a jewellery piece by hand, from creating the right alloy to the polishing of the finished product are at risk of disappearing.
The pieces from this collection take inspiration from the woven textures and patterns one finds in Myanmar. Weaving is at the heart of Myanmar crafts and is passed down through generations. Artisans use lotus stalks as well as palm leaves and bamboo shoots to create hats, boxes, and baskets, as well as to build the walls and roofs of their homes. To create this collection, the goldsmiths first roll out and then skilfully weave thin gold and silver strips into unique pieces of jewellery.
Decades of international isolation and sanctions have left Myanmar one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, with a third of the population living in poverty. Through technical, design, and business training, Turquoise Mountain is supporting over 400 artisans to connect to international markets, and to generate sustainable incomes. Turquoise Mountain’s apprenticeship programme in Myanmar is also training the first generation of female goldsmiths in the country who learn from the masters of their craft.