The son of a farmer, Om learnt stone cutting when young. He first specialized in carving crystal Gods for the temples, but now runs a small workshop in Sanganer, just outside Jaipur. He has a wonderful sensitivity to stones and has worked with us for over twenty years.
Cutting each gem, following its individual, organic shape and giving the merest hint of enhancement with the subtlest facets, he elicits a gentle sparkle from each. As the years have passed, we have experienced many of life’s adventures together. He has had two children, one a jewellery design student, the other, a training accountant.
Om now has a team who has learnt his skills, shares his respect and understanding for these organic jewels and together, they continue to do a wonderful job.
An Aymara Indian from Bolivia, Javier is the son of a Gold miner who began working in the mines of Tipuwani himself, at a very young age. He later moved onto goldsmithing and now has a tiny workshop in Miraflores near the coca market. From this little space, he makes beautiful creations for the indigenous Chola ladies of La Paz who invest heavily in the precious metal.
His wife, working as a domestic worker in Madrid, has been gone for many years. So he has had to raise their sons alone.
Javier enjoys creating beautiful, yet simple, earthy, natural forms deeply inspired by the pre-Colombian Goldwork of his ancestors and I love working with him.
Born in Jaipur Sushil and I have worked together for about 15 years, Sushil learned his skill from his family, his uncle Khen Raj who was a master goldsmith and has been a goldsmith for 25 years.
He specialises in hand work and is very proud and loves his work. Sushil and I have spent many hours studying seeds, leaves and flowers to replicate these minute miracles of nature in gold. He has a wonderful instinctive sense of beauty, proportion, balance and harmony in design.
Like many of the most renowned goldsmiths in Myanmar, Tin Win comes from Ramree Island, Rakhine State. He grew up immersed in the goldsmith life, with a thin line between the workshop and the playground. It was the wish of his parents that he became a goldsmith, and he moved to Yangon in 1996 to study under the master U Kyaw Than.
He brings a deep philosophy and creativity to his work best expressed in his own words, “The most important thing of handmade jewellery is how you use your mind. You need to be creative, think about the form, structure, beauty and use of one piece. You need to think and make. Brain and hands”.
With over 20 years of experience, Ko Tin Win is now a master goldsmith working at the Turquoise Mountain workshop. He has helped create iconic pieces designed in collaboration with UK award-winning designer Pippa Small.
Rubellino a Kuna Indian goldsmith from Kunayala, lives on a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Panama. His community are fiercely independent, yet deeply traditional and takes great pride in defending their rich culture and values.
Welcoming me with great warmth, the Kuna people shared remarkable tales of the many myths and legends which inspire their designs. Crafting principally in Gold, as it is believed to have a purifying quality which brings luck, health and fortune,
Rubellino creates his perfectly symmetrical pieces. Every creature on each necklace is identical, even though it has been created by hand. It is thought that such precision is highly regarded as it holds a much higher status within the community.
Juan is a quiet man whose primary business is selling fresh fruit and vegetables in Santiago de Chile. His quiet passion, however, is for the jewellery of his people, the Mapuche Indians. Juan spent his youth working as an apprentice with old master Mapuche silversmiths in different parts of Chile, learning the stories of their designs and the symbolism of their protective amulets.
Here he also discovered the significance of their secret resistance messages to the colonial powers, which were often hidden beneath the surface. Juan sadly found that he could not support his family and make a living doing the Silver work alone, but feels strongly that his connection to his people and history can still be channelled through his art.
He is extremely proud of this and has taught his son the craft too, in hope that he will one day be able to make a living with his skills.
Tomuco is a San Bushman from Ghanzi in Botswana, and like all in her community, her life is going through many changes. From being independent hunter-gatherers, the Bushmen have slowly been pushed off their land, banned from hunting and given no rights, or jobs.
They now live in small communities and often rely on poorly paid farm labour jobs or worse to survive. The craft project at Kuru where Tomuco works is wonderful in allowing people to express their culture, heritage and individualism through arts and crafts.
Tomuco is an exceptionally entrepreneurial lady keen to go on to run her own craft business and employ her friends to work with her.
Aman is a Lua from Kenya, who first began selling hand-carved wooden spoons at the market in Nairobi. At the time he and his family lived in Kibera, a huge slum in the city, surrounded by garbage. It was often a violent and hazardous place to live, but he and his brothers continued to develop their craft from a small mud hut.
A few years later, when he began working with ‘Made’, he was moved to a quiet estate to work, was provided with a bank account and health insurance and was also given the opportunity to become workshop manager, overseeing one hundred and twenty craftsmen.
He and his family were then able to move out of Kibera into a small house with room for his six children and a garden for them to grow vegetables in. Due to a grant from nest, he is now able to head his own business and support his extended family in the village.