What is HillTribe Silver?
Being between 99.5% and 99.9% pure silver, Karen HillTribe Silver has a higher silver content than Sterling Silver. Often, it's just the solder used to fuse the silver components together that makes up the last fractions of a percent.
HillTribe Silver is traditionally handcrafted by artisans of the Karen Hill Tribe, who have been passing this silversmithing method on for generations in the hills of Northern Thailand, Myanmar and Southern Laos. The unique charms & beads used in our designs are intricately handmade utilising these ancient silversmithing techniques. The hand-hammered and chased details are beautiful and you can actually see the evidence of each piece having been formed by the hands of a Karen Craftsman.
Although the finished beads are not as bright as Sterling Silver, the higher quality of HillTribe silver means it holds its shine and lustre longer & is generally more resistant to tarnish. This silver is not usually hallmarked in any way, but we can guarantee its origins at Embella Jewellery.
Benefits of HillTribe Silver
Because of the high content of pure silver, these pieces are less likely to cause irritation to sensitive skin. This silver also tarnishes a bit slower which adds to its appeal as a low maintenance piece of jewellery.
By using HillTribe Silver in our designs, we support the Northern Thailand Karen Hill Tribe, providing income to the tribe and encouraging the skills and knowledge to be passed on to the next generation of talented silversmiths.
The History of HillTribe Silver
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. These artisans share with us, through their artwork, a connection with nature.
How to care for your HillTribe Silver
To keep your HillTribe Silver shining, polish regularly with a soft cotton polishing cloth. This will reduce the likelihood of tarnish (a natural process which occurs when exposed to any kind of moisture, even in the air).
For more stubborn tarnish, the Karen HillTribe Silversmiths use the same Hoi Tong Polishing Powder we source at Embella. This gentle and natural abrasive powder removes the stains without damaging the finish. To use, simply mix into a paste with water and gently rub onto the silver, rinse off and dry.
Store your HillTribe Silver in an airtight container, cotton bag or jewellery box separate from other metals.