Handmade Silver Jewelry from Northern Thailand – Metal Studio Jewelry

Handmade silver jewelry crafted by Sirilak.

Each artisan has his/her own story to tell. That’s why I love it when I’m able to introduce them to you. Let’s meet Sirilak from Thailand. She sells her unique handmade silver jewelry through her shop Metal Studio Jewelry on the marketplace.

Her credo as an artisan:

“I want to give people the feeling that they have something unique when they wear my handmade silver jewelry – something that tells my story […] as an artisan.

I want to help people discover a unique jewelry piece that they can be genuinely proud of and that they can pass along in their family.”

 

Traditional jewelry crafting techniques from Thailand

Sirilak grew up learning the craft of handmade jewelry from the traditional silver- and goldsmiths in Thailand. Those artisans have been doing this kind of artwork for hundreds of years with only the simplest of tools.

The techniques that she uses for her handmade silver jewelry are still very similar to the traditional ones she was taught.

“Creating designs with modern tools is much easier, but I rather use the tools that I know and love even if they aren’t the fastest or easiest to use. Sometimes I do like to adopt a modern tool.

This year I got a hydrogen torch for my bench. It’s way easier to use because you just fill it with water and plug it in. Before I was using a gas-powered foot torch that had to be pumped with your foot while you were soldering. It was so hard to control the flame with this tool! My welds are so much cleaner now, and that’s great.”

But sometimes a modern tool just can’t replace its traditional counterpart.

“A few years ago, I got a big electric rolling mill to stretch silver wire to finer gauges. I hated it. It was too fast, the wire would whip through the machine, and the end would bounce around and nearly hit me every time I used it.

I have an old teak wood rolling mill that I still use. I bought it years ago when an artisan jeweler that I know retired. He had been using it for 40 years!

The wood handles are polished smooth. They are oiled and deep black from decades of jeweler’s hands touching it. It’s way slower than the electric ones, but I love it and will never give up using it!”

FYI, the fancy, modern electric one is now being used as a display in Sirilak’s Chiang Mai showroom.

Northern Thailand – a rich culture of silversmiths

Northern Thailand has a rich culture of silversmiths, so silver is never hard to find. Sirilak uses silver in her designs because it just has a look and a feel that you don’t get with gold.

“To me, silver is like a liquid. The final result is a solid piece, but […] a design […] feels like liquid to me. I hammer it and melt it. I bend and twist it until the final product takes shape.”

The Thai silver she uses Sirilak has a higher grade than sterling silver which results in a darker, more oxidized, silver and gives her pieces a rougher and more authentic feel.

“I don’t like highly polished silver. To me, the pieces that are polished to a mirror shine have the look of something that comes from a factory.”

Mixing and Matching in Design and Materials

Sirilak also likes to mix brass in her handmade silver jewelry, instead of the more popular gold, because the eye-catching color of brass melds seamlessly with her silver work.

“I create a lot of large silver pieces that are heavily oxidized. Brass can also be oxidized and polished using similar techniques as with silver.

These days everyone mixes silver and gold. […]  I don’t really like this. It creates a nice look, but it’s just not my style.

Jewelry like this just looks too polished. Even if they’re handmade, it seems like they are made in a factory.”

Brass is also sturdier and more durable, making it perfect for more delicate designs. You only need a few brass prongs to hold a gemstone – with silver you’d need more, impacting the design, or risk losing the stone.

The importance of gemstones in Metal Studio’s handmade silver jewelry

 Silver bezels crafted around the shape of the selected gemstones

 

Each piece of jewelry starts its life as small droplets of pure silver. Add the right gemstone and this will make the design.

Selecting the right gemstone is an important part of Sirilak’s crafting process. When the stones arrive at the studio, she already knows exactly how she’ll use them in her designs.

 

“It all starts when I select a gemstone. When I pick the gemstone, I already have an idea whether it will be a good fit for a necklace, ring, bracelet, or earrings.

For some reason, I’ve found it really hard to resist big gemstone pieces, which end up as necklaces.”

Handmade Jewelry that is just that bit different

Silver bangle with a unique style

Although the process Sirilak uses for all her handmade jewelry designs varies, she always has the same idea in mind when creating: to make something that is unique.

The bangle bracelet in the picture was created from a simple U shaped bangle that she learned to craft when she was a university student.

She liked the initial design but found it to plain.

To give the bangle more flair, she melted the edges all the way around it, letting pieces of silver melt, fall away, and congeal onto the bracelet in a random pattern.

The result:  A unique and beautiful bangle bracelet that you as the wearer can be proud of because you know you have a piece that is one-of-a-kind.

This is what discovered stands for! When buying pieces in our marketplace, you no know who made it, Sirilak in this case and that you’ve supported her through your purchase.

Shop all handmade jewelry from Thailand.