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.
Named after different lotus flowers, the pieces from this collection host the revival of traditional skills such as filigree, open-wire work and beadmaking, and introduce the craftsmanship of Myanmar goldsmiths. Gold beads have been a prominent feature of Myanmar jewellery for centuries. The goldsmiths create the beads by hand, using sheet metal and wire. They use hand tools to hammer and shape the materials into fine delicate shapes.
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.