January to March 2015 - Sourcing and a Good Omen

This year we returned to SE ASia to visit several of our previous jewellery and gemstone sources as we needed to replenish and extend stocks for Drift and The Earring Collection shop following a very successful 2014! Besides our signature world-class baroque pearls we managed to find some fantastic (and very reasonable) Burmese rubies and sapphires for earrings, rings and bracelets.

Fabulous Burmese ruby bracelet

One of our pearl sources also had a superb-quality string of matched, pale-champagne-blush, SouthSea pearls ranging from 12.5mm to 17mm which we had to bring back!  Katia has now strung these onto a white gold and diamaond clasp.

SouthSea pearl necklace.

But we weren't just looking for jewellery. We had seen a gallery in Ubud, Bali in which were displayed some spectacular metal wall sculptures. The gallery owner did not, of course, tell us where the artist's studio was.

However, some weeks later, whilst visiting one of our lamp-makers in Gianyar (well, off the tourist-trail) we noticed a workshop in which were the sparks and flashes of someone working metal. Inside, on the walls, and floor, were several designs which looked very similar to those in the gallery.

Eko's studio and works-in-progress

The artist, Eko,  spoke no English, and our Bahasa is rudimentary but with the help of a translation app, sign language and a lot of laughter we confirmed that he was the maker of the pieces we had seen.  We selected several designs and also designed some of our own pieces and asked him to produce them for us.

And then we took a holiday -  quite a rare event!

There is a small island off the Thai/Burmese border without roads, mains electricity, hotels, bars, nightclubs or shops which we have visited before and is the epitome of peace (but with superb food). So we took trains planes and, erm, boats to get there for a 16 day detox and rest. Wonderful....... and to cap it all, on one of our final evenings there, as we sat with a cold drink watching the sun set, a strange object floated into the long bay where our beachhut is located.

As it got closer to shore, the local Burmese got very excited and explained what it was - a raft built from odds and ends but with a beautiful temple on it within which sat a golden Buddha. This is made and launched from some dozens of miles further up the Burmese coast at lunar New Year and wherever it reaches land brings good fortune and health - most especially the first landfall where the locals take the Buddha to their temple and re-launch the raft to spread more luck further afield.

And it landed immediately and exactly in front of our hut!

Re-energised, in all ways, we returned to our sourcing work and found even more gorgeous objects to bring back.  Our friend Cheqy who finds, cuts and polishes the amazing fossil tree pieces had carved two koi carp from a lovely piece - koi are hugely revered across Asia as symbols of longevity and health.

And, of course, we re-visited Eko to see his creations.

One of Eko's trees

 We also found, designed and had created too many other things to include here but it looked like the raft had started to bring us some good fortune. So we returned to open the shops, on April 1st as traditional, with high hopes for this New Year.