Making Body Jewelry

I found this on squidoo, an instructional site.  It’s an interesting pictoral/article entitled, “How Organic Body Jewelry is Made,” which is a somewhat misleading title as it basically refers mostly to horn jewelry made from water buffalo horn, as well as some wood pieces.

horn-1-nee061

The article is  produced by a company called Siam Intercontinental Handcrafts.  I know nothing about this business, other than they wrote a very nice article.  And apparently sell body jewelry.  Still, the article goes step by step into how they make their jewelry, which is quite interesting.

horn-2-uditt061

Step 5  After the piece has taken on the correct shape and approximate size the hand sanding and hand polishing is begun. Different grades of sand paper are used starting with 120 grit, then 240 through 360 and 600 grit. After the piece has become very smooth we hand polish it using natural bees wax with a small amount of sand added and a strip of natural cotton cloth. The cotton strip is tied to a point at one end and the jewelry is rubbed back and forth along the length of cotton until a high luster is achieved.

Be sure to read the entire article, here.  The pics above belong to Siam Intercontinental Handcrafts, not me.

I was going to do a nifty compare-and-contrast thing here, because there was a great little instructional page on how to machine a steel barbell.  But I can’t find it anymore.  If anyone has a link to that, please let me know.

4 Responses to Making Body Jewelry

  1. Thanks for the link! That’s a great webpage. I can’t help wondering though…I’m sure these pieces are priced in the range of USD 20-100 over here. It’s nice that the merchant mentions that they provide non-labourious work as a source of supplemental income for older people, but that would also seem to indicate that the artisans aren’t paid very much, otherwise there’d be more able-bodied younger people doing it for the money

    Maybe it’s time for a fair trade jewellery movement?

  2. piercedconsumer says:

    I’m sure they aren’t paid very much, but I got the impression that this was a Thai company. Of course, that doesn’t mean the workers are not exploited.

    Fair trade jewelry? That’s an interesting idea. I shall have think on it . . .

  3. Jared Karnes says:

    For the sake of fairness I want to disclose before my post that I own a body jewelry company specializing in natural materials.

    Siam is a company that has been around for a while – they are a mass production company out of Southeast Asia. A few years ago they really got onto the jewelry bandwagon and their selection has exploded, as has their attention to fads in the industry. Many of the designs that they carry have been stolen or unfairly copied over the years, which is unfortunate. You also have to keep in mind that anything they make with a logo on it is most likely not licensed and constitutes copyright infringement as well. May not be a big deal to some but business ethics are ethics nonetheless.

    TONS of the jewelry you see on retail sites that do not specialize in organics, and stuff on Ebay, comes from this wholesaler because their prices are extremely low, all things considered. Example: http://stores.ebay.com/Bare-Bones-Organic-Body-Jewelry_Whats-New_W0QQfsubZ4883794

    The link directly to that information page on the Siam site is: http://www.siaminterhandicrafts.com/en-us/dept_344.html

    I just took a look at their site and I can’t help but think that some of the information there is a little misleading. There is no way they are creating that volume of jewelry with simple hand tools. It mentions “On average it takes 5 hours for experienced artisans to make a pair of organic plugs, organic hooks or organic tunnels etc.” Plugs and tunnels are made on a lathe, even in Southeast Asia. At our Onetribe workshops (both here in the USA and in Indonesia) we have numerous rotary tool machines (glorified dremels with a flex shaft hand-piece for carving) and some of our very complex carved-in-the-round pieces take 5-7 hours for a set even with those, and other electrical tools (lathe, basic sanders, buffing wheels, etc). If what they are saying is true, then they are paying literally nothing to be able to have someone work for 5 hours on a simple set of jewelry priced at $2-$5 wholesale.

    The first poster mentioned fair trade body jewelry. This is something we have been working on for a while. I have the paperwork from the Fair Trade Federation sitting in a folder on my desk. We will eventually be certified but we are still trying to decide which organization is a good fit for us. There is also a group of body jewelry companies which we are a member of (as are Anatometal and Gorilla Glass, to name a few) called OBJECT which stands for “Organization of Body Jewelers for Ethical Conduct in Trade” and we discuss issues such as that of fair production, employee care, copyright infringement and such.

    If you ever have specific questions about how organic jewelry is produced, or even about how Onetribe works (to a certain extent), please feel free to ask. We’re also happy to do case studies of custom orders, as we take photographs of the production process for most things we enjoy creating. That is actually something I have been thinking about creating a section on our own weblog for, so that people can see how specific pieces that we’ve created were made from start to finish.

  4. […] his trip to Indonesia, because he’s commented.  Take a look especially at his comment on the Making Body Jewelry post, in which he talks about the company that was featured, the question of fair trade jewelry, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: