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Sparkling treasures from the Ring of Fire

Precious stones arranged to resemble Indonesia’s territory during the Mutumanikam Nusantara Indonesia jewellery exhibition. Photo by Ricky Yudhistira

Publication Date : 18-11-2012


As an archipelago located in the Ring of Fire, Indonesia possesses a wide range of materials used to make jewellery, such as ancient gemstones, precious metals and fine, rare beads like pearls, which are viewed as hidden treasures of the world.

With precious stones such as rubies, sapphires and the like, a seemingly endless supply of precious metals like gold and silver, as well as millions of saltwater-cultured pearls, Indonesia is a jewellery haven.

“I like the fact that jewellery makers are now being more creative in exploring Indonesia’s indigenous materials, be they traditional or contemporary,” Indonesian fashion designer and ethnic jewellery collector, Ghea Panggabean, told The Jakarta Post.

“They’ve been showing great progress and I’m really proud of them,” said Ghea, who often collaborates with local jewellers to make accessories for her label.

From this year’s Mutumanikam Nusantara Indonesia jewellery exhibition, Ghea said she loves the creations of gold jewellery from Jambi, interesting and functional pearl jewellery from Lombok, jewel bags, carved fish boned jewellery from Bali and replicas of antiques.

Ghea said the replica antique jewellery would be a big hit in 2013. “The replica antique jewellery uses gold-plated metal, which is then meticulously carved to give it an ethnic look. It is also adorned with exotic stones.”

Another buyer, Eni, said that her purchase during the exhibition was actually unplanned.

“Any woman would understand; purchasing things like jewellery is mostly spontaneous. I didn’t plan to shop here, but, hey, our local jewellery is so gorgeous I just had to buy something,” she told the Post after completing a purchase at one of the booths.

Holding her handbag along with several small paper bags from the spree, Eni admitted that she was accompanying the wife of a deputy minister to the annual exhibition. However, she ended up with some new jewellery, including a pair of pearl earrings.

Mutumanikan Nusantara Indonesia’s director, Soeharto, said that around 200 companies took part in the seventh exhibition.

“We usually have between 200 and 250 participants. But this year, we have 200 from all across the country as well as from three overseas, namely Hong Kong, India and Sri Lanka,” Soeharto said.

The exhibition displayed various pieces of jewellery, from fine silver-made brooches and rings — starting from 200,000 rupiah (US$21) a piece, to a collection item of a whole-set pearl necklace, which was priced at 2 billion rupiah.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said during the opening of the exhibition that Indonesian jewellery products had contributed as much as 33 trillion rupiah to the country’s revenues, with around 2 trillion rupiah in exports.

Chandra, a silver jewellery maker from Kotagede in Yogyakarta, said that most of his buyers purchased small silver brooches.

“As compared to some big jewellery companies, we offer lower priced products. Fortunately, there are always visitors coming to shop. Usually, they want to buy a simple brooch for 200,000 rupiah, or a set of earrings and a pendant for about 560,000 rupiah,” said Chandra.

Kotagede is famous for its fine silvery pieces, which are 92.5 per cent pure in silver.

Fine gemstone jeweller Ali said that despite the luscious pearls or prestigious diamonds, gemstones had particularly avid fans.

“Most of our stones are rubies and sapphires. Locally, they come from Martapura, Pacitan, Sukabumi and Wonosobo. Internationally, they are imported from Africa, Iran, Russia and Sri Lanka,” he said.

Ali shared that the world’s great rubies came from Sri Lanka. “But the mining in Sri Lanka is shrinking, so the price of each stone is getting higher. I no longer shop in Sri Lanka. However, Africa has just opened new ruby mines, so the price is still affordable.”

The Myanmar Embassy in Indonesia also took part in the event, showcasing numerous not-for-sale items including various precious stones and Myanmar’s own gold jewellery.

“It’s the first time we have participated in such an event. Due to the limited time for our preparation, we could not bring our own jewellers from Myanmar, so we are providing these collection items.

“Some of the visitors are interested to what we have, but we’re really sorry we cannot sell these,” said Sabai Win, the wife of the Myanmar ambassador to Indonesia.

Win said the exhibition would potentially pave the way for collaboration between Indonesia and Myanmar in terms of jewellery production.

*US$1=9,620 rupiah


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