Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Pieces of old Tibetan amber set in silver with old Tibetan coral. Broken bits of Roman Glass with antique carnelian and turquoise beads. Try clicking on the image to see it larger.
This past weekend I was in Richmond, VA selling at a gem and jewelry show. I'm still recovering. The shows are long and difficult and I usually return sick.
Next door to our building there was an antique show. At this particular venue, I always get a lot of people wandering over from next door, asking me to identify Asian items for them. They also want me to show them my antiques. However, most of the items that I buy in Nepal are not old. The reason that I prefer to buy new items is that creating something new provides a craftsman with a job. The selling of antiquities breeds a negative market. In effect, it creates a market for stolen goods. If the item is not stolen from a temple then it may be a forgery which, to my mind, is creating an object that from its inception is meant to deceive. There are real Himalayan antiques out there from legitimate sources, but they are very expensive and one really needs to know what one is looking at. (I would not recommend buying antiquities on line.)
A few of my jewelry suppliers are very good at recycling though. They buy up old beads in bits and pieces and then create something new with them. This helps the poor to make some money from their broken bits of jewelry. My customers can receive a new piece of jewelry that may have at least a couple of beads in it that are hundreds or even a thousand years old. Often they have no idea what they are looking at unless I tell them. They simply like the look of the pieces.
In the pictures above, only the larger coral beads at the bottom of each piece are old. In the image on the right, the black beads with white and yellow stripes are the Roman glass that may be a thousand years old or more. Sometimes these things were in older pieces of jewelry that fell apart, sometimes they are broken bits of bracelets or other things that people grind down and drill for use as beads. When you live on the silk road, there are always treasures to be found in the dirt. All of our items are inspected by the archeology office in Nepal before shipping to make sure that we are not removing anything that we should not.