Behind the Bead – Bali Silver

Ever wonder where your favorite beads come from? Bali beads are some of the highest-quality products and are full of intricate detail. Experienced jewelry makers are able to spot an authentic Bali bead through piles of replicas, and after reading this, you will too. The reason Bali beads stand out from the rest is the unique touch of detailed patterns found in each one. Such craftsmanship can only be achieved through dedication and steady hands, and here we will tell the story of how Bali beads came in to being.

Bali has been a place rich in silversmith culture for at least 2600 years, when skills trading with Southeast Asian countries ran high. When gold was discovered in Bali, the demand to possess this cherished skill grew. Soon after, Bali became known for its quality gold and silver products. The silversmiths of Bali put the same amount of dedication into each small bead as they do for ceremonious rituals. From weaving flowers and palm trees into offerings to Gods to sterling silver jewelry, each task put into the hands of these artists is made with the same dedication.

The people of Bali, Indonesia, who specialize in creating silver items have a natural abundance of patience—a necessity in making every single bead. One will notice in the details of a specific bead that each tiny granulated bump is a separate ball of silver soldered to the base. The process in which these lovely components are made is a journey in itself, using only the simplest of tools.

First, small silver pellets are melted down and mixed with borax to rid it of impurities. The liquefied silver is then poured into molds—either a square mold for a sheet or a round mold to cut wire. The solid silver molds are ran through a rolling press and made thinner and smaller until the smith has reached his desired size to work with. The silver is then cut with a saw into various shapes, allowing the silversmith to then use metal stamps and hammers to make exquisite details like rounded edges and precise designs. To create filigree designs, silver wires are soldered together into bowl shapes and curved into the appropriate pieces.

The tiny granulated details are added to the final shape using paste made from small red beans to hold things in place. Silver solder is brushed onto the shape and heated over a torch flame, creating a smooth, clean line. The silversmith cleans the silver with a porous fruit and then dips it in antiquing solution. This turns the silver black. To create the perfect look, the silver is then polished, giving the tiny details a shine and keeping the background parts black for a nice contrast.

We take pride in every product we sell on our site, but our Bali silver jewelry components really are some of the best things we carry. If you are in search of fine silver, look no further than Bali silver. Now that you know the story you’ll never mistake imitation Bali silver for the real thing again.


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    • Laurel
    • August 31, 2011

    Very interesting article. It is amazing what these artisans can do. Thanks for the information.

    • Marilyn
    • August 31, 2011

    Loved the story. I’ve wondered how the filigree was done. Something I could never do. Thanks for the information.

    • Anne Patrick
    • August 31, 2011

    Bali is beautiful. It’s design and detail has always been unique and original.

    • Diana B
    • August 31, 2011

    What on earth is a “porous fruit?”

    • Marissa
    • September 13, 2011

    Hi Diana-

    The fruit they use is actually called a
    tamarind fruit, which looks like a large brown bean pod. They open up the fruit and use its sticky astringent insides for cleaning.

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