Inside a Balinese Silver Workshop: Sterling Silver?

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Inside a Silver Workshop

Just in case you thought sterling silver might be pure silver, no it isn't. It is pure silver mixed with a tiny amount of copper and brass to make it workable. The amount of copper and brass may vary slightly in different parts of a piece of jewelry depending on the needs of a particular component. The outer part of a besel edge keeping the stone in place may need less copper and brass.

The silver that most craftsmen buy in Bali to make their jewelry is pure silver in the form of round balls. These are melted down in a little clay crucible together with just the right proportion of copper and brass.

After the sterling silver solidifies it is milled to make the building blocks of silver such as wires and plate of different thicknesses.

Even the tiniest piece of a cut off corner is saved and melted again to use in a different place.

These craftsmen (many of them) learnt all this by watching their parents work with silver when they were tiny children.

Enjoy that piece of silver jewelry! And spare a thought for the skilled craftsperson who made it by hand somewhere in a village in Bali.

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