Professional Jeweler Archive: Fabulous Filigree

June 2000

Precious Metals & Bench: News

Fabulous Filigree

Unusual bracelet, unusual technique from Nepal

Next time a customer asks for something truly special, try to beat this: a handmade, pure gold, intricately filigreed bracelet crafted in a remote Himalayan valley near Katmandu, Nepal, by a craftsman who makes only a few each year.

This extraordinary bracelet is just one of the many unique gold and silver pieces Michael Schofield & Co. imports from such places as Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia. Schofield has been importing jewelry from Asia since he traveled to Katmandu in 1976. While there, he befriended the Newars, highly skilled artisans who have lived in the area for 2,500 years and work primarily with silver. They are regularly commissioned to produce religious statuary for Tibet.

Craftsman Indra Shakya, 57 years old and largely retired, makes only a few pieces a year. He handcrafted the bracelet shown from a single ingot of gold, attaching more than 1,000 gold wire filigrees onto the cuff using an ancient blowpipe method of fusing. To fuse the filigree to the cuff, Shakya directs a flame by inhaling air through his nose and exhaling through the blowpipe in a continuous stream. This enables him to create a hot pinpointed flame.

Shakya is Buddhist, and his jewelry incorporates symbols and icons of his religion. Examples can be seen on the outside of the cuff and carved in intricate detail inside. The bracelet has 150 grams of pure gold and costs $7,000 keystone. Other pieces in gold and silver are $200 to over $20,000 keystone.

  • Michael Schofield & Co., Clear Creek, IN; (800) 637-4361.

– by William H. Donahue Jr.

The closeups at right show the intricate filigree detail on both sides of the cuff. This intricacy and the fact the cuff was handmade using an ancient fusing technique in Nepal are good selling points for discerning customers.

Photos by Robert Weldon

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications