One of my favourite features of Embella’s jewellery is the usage of, and focus on ‘HillTribe silver’. These charms that are a big part of Embella’s nature inspired pieces, have a fascinating story to tell.
What is HillTribe Silver?
I get asked this every day, and in a fast paced sales environment, I often find myself focusing on sales points:
HillTribe silver is 99.5% - 99.9% pure silver - it’s the purest form of silver you can get. It has a darker colour and sheen to it, compared to sterling silver, and tarnishes a bit slower which adds to its appeal as a low maintenance piece of jewellery.
Whilst that is interesting and practical information, it completely overlooks the beauty and magic that is encapsulated within these hand-crafted treasures. If I had more time to go into the details with each customer, I gladly would, but I rarely get that chance. And so, I’ve decided to share a bit more about this amazing material - HillTribe Silver - with any and all who might be interested in learning a little bit more. I find that it's history deepens the connection with this unique jewellery.
The first thing to keep in mind is that all of these charms are made by hand (with hammers and hand held tools) by artisans who have been passing this tradition, this gift, throughout the generations for years unknown. HillTribe Silver is referring to Silversmithing that is done by people of the Karen Hill Tribe. As the name would suggest, a large population is gathered in the hills of Northern Thailand, Myanmar and Southern Laos.
The Karen people have their own history that is separate from the countries in which they currently reside. It’s not confirmed exactly where the Karen people came from, but many theories assert that they migrated from Tibet or perhaps the Gobi Desert. They have their own language with many dialects spread out over the vast area in which they live.
It is estimated that about 70% of Karen people are ‘animist’ which is an ancient type of spirituality that honours their special connection with the spirits of land, as well as a strong connection to their ancestors. In today’s modern world, I feel that these facets of their culture - this ‘connection' - is largely what is missing in our everyday fast paced lives. These artisans share with us, through their artwork, a connection - a relationship - with nature that we are all a part of.
In addition, silversmithing is a boon for the tribe at large. It allows the youth within the tribes to stay in their ancestral lands and earn a living instead of being pushed out into the cities looking for work, which can have several negative impacts within tribal society. Silversmithing allows for income to be generated in a positive way, which leads to better infrastructure and an overall better way of life for historically marginalised peoples.
The founders of Embella (Sally and Ross) have personally travelled to Thailand in search of the highest quality materials crafted by the highest quality artists from genuine Karen Hill Tribes. This interaction of culture and creativity, and dedication to authenticity is one of my favourite facets about this company. I am proud to be a part of an organisation in which these amazing craftsmen and women contribute their talents.