Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ACHARA SILVER CO., LTD.

Thailand houses some of the world's most beautiful beaches, and today we will visit the serene beaches of Koh Lao Liang.

As we recline on our lounge chairs, we lose sense of time and space staring up at the towering limestone cliffs, and patches of white clouds dancing above them. Thailand is also the home base of jewelry brand Achara Silver Co., Ltd.

This story of a prestigious Thai jewelry company and the Hill Tribe groups of Northern Thailand's mountain region is one of destiny, generosity, and love of artisanship.

For Achara Patthong passion for design and jewelry making is perpetual, like the rising and setting of the sun. She and her husband, Withaya Cheunjit, began working with sterling silver more than 20 years ago when they were still in college.

Fueled by determination, the couple was adamant about fashioning the purest silver into unique ornaments, and in 1980 established their company Achara Silver Co., Ltd. (ASC).

The couple was moved by the plight of Hill Tribe families who had been forced from their homes finding refuge in the slopes and peaks of Thailand's mountains. Achara and Withaya were particularly intrigued by their skill in silversmithing.

"We learned that the Hill tribe people of northern Thailand had wonderful silversmith skills," Achara explains, "but that most of their jewelry wasn't considered very marketable. We decided we wanted to find a way to help them earn a stable living and develop more handcrafting skills improving their designs so they would be more appealing to the general public."

In 1983, the company began working with the Yao and Karen tribes who, respectively, specialize in sterling silver bangles, bracelets, and beaded pendants.

Presently, over 500 Hill Tribe silversmiths work for ASC contributing items of outstanding craftsmanship that preserve traditional techniques passed down through generations such as the arabesque detailing of the Forest Fern Cuff Bracelet, the ethereal beauty of the Ilang Ilang Exotic Ring, and the lacy facets of the Jasmine Filigree Cuff Bracelet. The artisans also create lovely pieces implementing garnets, pearls, and amethyst.

Since its inception, ASC's beautiful silver baubles have a global following, which include Thailand dignitaries as well as controversial actor Mel Gibson who purchased products while visiting the company's flagship store in Chiang Mai.
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Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Jasmine Tendrils Corset Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom right): Sterling Silver Violet Fantasy Necklace with Pearls and Amethyst
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