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Tibetan Gem Stone Jewelry

Potala Palace in TtibetTibetan jewelry and art is very symbolic. It is part of everyday life and a reflection of
religious beliefs. Tibetans are Buddhist and chanting is an important part of their customs. Ohm or Om is a chant recognized by most people but the full popular ancient Mantra (chant) of Tibet is Om Mani Padme Hum. This mantra is sometimes inscribed on Tibetan jewelry and is translated as The Jewel in the Lotus.

Tibetan jewelry is quite beautiful, with vibrant colors, but stylish and simplistic. The colors most used are bright reds and light blues but you will also find green and yellow. Tibetans actually value their jewelry based on its color, size and symbolism. Tibetan jewelry, including silver and gold jewelry, also tends to be much larger in size than the jewelry made in most other countries.

Most of the jewelry makers today can be found in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, particularly in the old part of town. Many jewelry makers have been here for centuries and the business remains within the family, the skills passed down through the generations.

Freek Street in Kathmandu Silver Jewelry on Freek Street
Freak street where the hippies of old used to hang out.
Today you can find small jewelry shops here.

Salmon Coral Silver JewelryThe Tibetans have been skilled silversmiths for many years. In fact Tibetan silversmiths and goldsmiths were believed to be one of the wonders of the medieval world! Documents uncovered in China from the 7th Century write in praise of their skills.

Tibetian Turquoise Silver JewelryThe jewelry is made of the highest-quality silver with antique turquoise, coral and amber often used. Tibetans believe that turquoise and coral have healing qualities as well as believing in the protective properties of gem stones. Most of the semi-precious gems are found in the Himalayas with some of the gems e.g. blue lapis being imported from Afghanistan.

The silver used in Tibetan jewelry is 92.5 % silver and some Tibetan silver jewelry has a rustic, unfinished look to it. Hand made using hammer and chisel; it is unique in its charm.

Tibetan horse saddles rings

These ring shapes resemble traditional Tibetan horse saddles.
Silver, turquoise and red coral.

Tibetan Buddhists can be seen walking around wearing their prayer beads, called malas. Malas are prayer or rosary beads used for reciting repetitions of prayers or chants called "mantras," and are used during meditation. They have been used for thousands of years in Tibetan, Chinese and Indian Buddhism. Similar beads are used in Christianity. They are made from an assortment of semi-precious stones as well beads and Yak bone.

The stones chosen in the mala have a particular significance. Turquoise is for wisdom and spiritual journeys, Tiger’s Eye is used to create order out of chaos and lead to harmony.

The Tibetan jewelry style had a major influence on other cultures, particularly those ferocious warriors known as The Mongols.

Mongolian WarriorThe Mongol Empire existed for almost 150 years, up to the end of the 14th century, with the Great Mongol Empire being founded by Chinggis Khaan. The Empire included northern China, Turkestan, Middle East, Russia, Ukraine, Caucasus and Iran.
One of Chinggis god sons, Kubilai Khaan, conquered the whole territory of China and became the founder of the Mongol Dynasty in China.

The Mongols were reconverted to Tibetan Buddhism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. So we find the Mongol taste in jewelry is similar to the Tibetan with a love of turquoise and salmon colored coral.

Mongol EarringsMongol earrings. High grade silver with turquoise and coral. The long life knot at the top is a frequently used motif in Mongol as well as Tibetan Buddhist design.

If you wanted to buy jewelry hand made in Tibet today, you would need to be careful. A lot on the commercial market is actually made in Nepal. However, you can always make your own Tibetan style jewelry using authentic gem stones.

We hope you've found this article interesting. Why not email us with your thoughts or any questions? We always like to hear from our customers.

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  • First Published: October-19-2011
  • Last Updated: October-19-2011
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    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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