Jewelry has always been a big part of our ensemble, be it at weddings or formal events. But these days, however, especially among the younger generations, jewelry made of inexpensive metal, stones, and beads are more popular than items made from silver or gold. The case is the same for people visiting Nepal, many of whom are drawn towards the attention to details as well as the colors in these handcrafted masterpieces. And so, there are many places that sell handcrafted jewelry that look good with both traditional and modern wear. Here are three places you can visit if you want something to up your style game or simply want to add a unique, eye-catching piece to your jewelry collection.
Liberty Nepal is a gift and handicraft retailer tucked away at a small corner in Thamel. Saru Basnet has been running the place for seven years, specializing in handcrafted earrings, necklaces, bracelets as well as few other decor items. The jewelry mostly feature beads and precious stones and there are some with bones as well.
Basnet and her team choose the designs by considering the trend as well as seeing what is in demand at a particular time. “For instance, a few months ago thread earrings were pretty popular but nowadays their sales have gone down,” she explains. According to Basnet, the type of jewelry people prefer or wear is directly affected by pop culture – what their favorite stars are wearing or what their friends recommend.
“When we first started bones were the thing that everyone was buying but nowadays bone jewelries have become almost obsolete,” she says adding that it may be due to the awareness among people about not hurting animals that the trend has simply died down.
Basnet explains that, particularly in Thamel, the sales tend to be high around Dashain as tourists tend to come to Nepal in order to climb or trek. “People usually come to our shop to buy jewelry for their loved ones back home and also to remember their time in Nepal,” she says. Nowadays, however, as it’s the off-season the flow of tourists is pretty low and so the business tends to slow down around this time. “But we have a lot of Nepali customers coming in at the moment so that gives us a bit of hope,” she concludes.
Creator, a jewelry shop located at Sagarmatha Bazar in Mandala Street, Thamel, is 19 years old. Nirmala Thapa is the founder/owner of the store and they manufacture bone, horn and beaded jewelry as well as other handicraft items. But you don’t have to visit the store as you can simply go to their Instagram page (@creator_handicrafts) and surf through their huge collection of jewelry.
Thapa claims to be one of the first entrepreneurs to have introduced bone jewelry in the market and that it was hugely popular back then. Over time, she has shifted from bones to other materials like glass, brass, and other oxidized metals. The shop features a range of jewelries made of different materials and in various designs, shapes and sizes. Among them, rings, stone earrings as well as neckpieces are popular among customers.
The process of making these jewelries start from bringing in metal in kilos from India after which they are shaped into small detailed ornaments. “For a professional, a simple bracelet will take about 15 minutes to make but for an amateur making that very bracelet might take months,” she says adding that jewelry making requires dedication and a lot of patience.
Creator mostly features fashion jewelries or jewelries that are in trend. However, after receiving a few recommendations, Thapa has decided to feature traditional jewelries from different regions of Nepal as well.
One thing Thapa feels she is lacking in is taking to the internet which has become one of the most profitable and approachable places to do business. “I see a lot of potential in the virtual business scene. We have been in operation for so long that I feel like our business can do well online as people won’t doubt the quality of our products,” she concludes.
Arun Amatya started Namaste Handicrafts eight years ago along with his wife Suvarna Amatya in Thamel, Kathmandu. The shop, though small, features a wide range of jewelries like rings, earrings, bracelets and other stones brought in from countries like Afghanistan, China, and India. Suvarna is the designer and the one who is primarily responsible for the collection there.
However, Namaste Handicrafts also provides customers the luxury of designing their own jewelry, one that can go well with their ensemble. “A customer can come up to us with an idea or an image and we will make it just as they want it,” says Arun who believes this is what makes Namaste Handicrafts popular among Nepalis. Almost 90 percent of their customers are Nepali and they come to make jewelry for weddings, parties or to give them as gifts.
After Suvarna readies a design, she approaches different freelance jewelry makers in order to actually make the jewelry. “This way, we can ensure that a particular jewelry maker can focus on a particular piece and give his/her best while not having to worry about finishing within a tight deadline,” she explains.
Arun reveals that their approach to running their business is to be flexible and provide customers with whatever they want. That way Arun is quite confident that his business can sustain itself in the long run and he further claims that he hasn’t faced much competition when it comes making and selling unique jewelry.