Bali jewelers use traditional methods to produce their unique style of silverwork. The traditions have been handed down from the Southern Chinese and Southeast Asian artisans, and many of the patterns and motifs used today have similar designs. Many families in Bali can trace their silversmith and jeweler roots back to the Majapahit Empire and the invasion of the Javanese in the 16th century. In Bali, metal smiths are known as Pandai, a term that means both smith and clever. In legends in the area, the first goldsmith clans were taught their craft by the gods that were sent to earth to teach humankind civil behavior.
Most jewelry in Bali, while originally gold, is now silver. The silver market is more popular worldwide, and the booming demand for exports dictates the production. There are both Balinese and Javanese traditions seen in what is known as Bali jewelry. Balinese silversmiths tend to use small spheres of silver arranged in intricate patterns on a silver background. This technique is called granulation, and provides a sharp contract between the darker background of the natural silver and the highly polished spheres of silver. Javanese silversmiths use fine filigree work on smooth, polished silver background. Most of the Bali jewelry on the market today is a combination of these two traditions.
Bali jewelry is unique is its combinations of silver with other metals and gemstones, in a fashion that is distinctive. The dark background of the unpolished silver serves to frame the patterns of the polished silver and highlight the gems and other metals used. Recently more woven-type silver and gold jewelry is being produced in Bali, and this has become very popular as an export.
Bali jewelry continues to be much sought after and very much in demand. It is important to note that many collectors can identify which silversmith clan produced the particular piece of jewelry simply because of the pattern of granulation that is used on the piece. The patterns are intricate and eye catching, and often incorporate other metals such as gold as well as gems.
In addition to rings, bracelets and pendants, Bali also produces beautiful and unique silver beads. These beads are extremely detailed and intricate, and are used for both commercial jewelry making and home hobby jewelry making.
The internet has increased the popularity of Bali jewelry with more people being able to access sites that sell the product. The high quality craftsmanship and uniqueness of the pieces give consumers a wide choice of items.