In partnership with the Suu Foundation, Turquoise Mountain began a dedicated mission in Burma last year. An initiative which would attempt to create jobs, boost the local economy and promote traditional Burmese rich jewellery traditions and I was thrilled to be a part of it.
Working with a traditional Burmese goldsmith from Rakhine in his Yangon workshop, I sourced the gemstones for this collection in a slightly unorthodox way. Most of the large mines in Mogok are owned by huge corporations, yet a small group of women gather at the end of each day to take home waste rock. They are free to sort through the rubble and search for Rubies, Sapphires, Tourmalines and Peridots before selling them at an all-female market nearby. These women can go weeks without finding anything, yet the prospect of discovering just one substantial stone could change their lives overnight. Sourcing the gems from these women and immediately sidestepping the large-scale mines and their questionable practices, I felt it important to help create sustainable future for these individual women on the ground.
The collection itself is inspired by early Burmese design, as well as motifs I encountered on my travels throughout the country. Constantly hearing the chiming of bells from nearby temples, I wished to incorporate an element of sound into the designs, I set small Gold bell earrings with Pink Tourmalines and created spherical hollow Gold pendants full of loose, tumbling gemstones which move with the wearer. Other designs include the Dharma wheel, set with Aquamarine, Peridot, Spinel and Amber, while stone-set rings feature a softer, brushed Gold, a traditional Burmese style.
To read more about the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Myanmar, click here.