Recently I made a trip to the beautiful Indonesian island, Bali with my family. It was a celebration of sorts, spouse turning forty and us crossing the 10 year mark being married! We just wanted a relaxed vacation near the beach on an exotic location. Bali fit the bill. I’d always heard about the silver jewellery especially the filigree work done in Bali. So while planning our vacation I couldn’t help but research about the jewellery shopping destinations. The info was quite scattered. On one hand I saw various mixed reviews of silver stores in Celluk and Seminyak on tripadvisor.com and on the other hand I saw various forums where people had posted about their own experiences. There were also various ‘cultural’ and ‘handicrafts’ tours being offered by private agencies that would take you to the jewellery making centres. These also had mixed reviews. Being a jewellery connoisseur myself, I knew that ‘Jewellery shopping’ will definitely be one of the top things in my ‘To Do list’ in Bali 😉 so I saved a few links on my phone and decided that I’ll make an itinerary when I land there.
While researching about Bali I’d chanced upon this Pearl farm in Bali called Atlas Pearl. They provide free farm tour and one can pick the exquisite south sea pearls from the showrooms in Seminyak , Bali. So my first visit was to the showroom in Seminyak. The place is marked on google and we could find it easily. However, the pearls are extremely expensive. I dint end up picking anything from here. Just across the street though was Made’s Warung (a very popular spot) where we stopped to have a cuppa coffee. Here tucked in a corner I chanced upon a quaint store called Lagora Jewellery
There I found some beautiful Indonesian pearl jewellery. The likes of it I’d never seen and all in silver. I admired a few pieces but dint buy anything instantly. I checked a few more stores around this place but most stores in Seminyak are pretty expensive. I found the designs at Lagora quite exquisite yet reasonable. The following day I went there again and picked up these two rings.
Both are statement pieces and I’m extremely happy to have acquired these. (Psst…they also have a discount on some pieces from their old stock sometimes so you may actually get something at a great bargain price)
While at Made’s Warung I got talking to the waiter who told me about Celluk Village (yet again) and said that if I’m looking for jewellery thats where I should go. So the next day I set out for Celluk. I hailed a cab outside my hotel in South Kuta and set off to explore. It was a 50 minute ride and the cabbie insisted that he would take me around to the right stores and that he will charge me just a little more for the drop back to my hotel. I knew that the stores are spread everywhere and it would be quite a walk to explore on foot so I agreed. We first went to a popular hotspot called Artikas where there were 3 / 4 more cabs already parked and it had a touristy appeal. This place was amongst the top ones on my list thanks to internet. A guy came running to me and took me in to a workshop (which looked like something made up for tourists to see and think this is how silver jewllery is made). When I went to see the actual collections I found the place extremely expensive and I had seen almost everything back home in India at less than half the prices. So I got out of there and told my cabbie straightaway that I dont want to waste my time with any more such stores that are too expensive and have nothing new to offer so only if he knew a better place should we continue the trip or else I’d be happy to go back to the hotel. The place looked like a set up to fool tourists but I’m a jewellery connoisseur and I could see through the sham.
He then told me that he knew of a silver jewel factory away from the jewellery street (about 20 minutes ride from Jl Raya Celuk) which some tourists from Holland had shown him. That according to him was a genuine place. Most stores in the main Jalang Raya were actually similar and are covered by various guided tours. I agreed to go see the factory but I insisted on first exploring at least 2 more stores in that area. So he took me to Prapen Jewellery.
Above: Workshop at Prapen Jewellery. Filigree work in progress.
That was a good call. Prapen is neither over the top expensive nor is there a dearth of creativity. I would call them the designer jewellery store. Their designs are mostly contemporary though they keep a lot of traditional Bali designs too. Simply loved the place and ended up picking some exclusive stuff from there.
Picked up these statement ear rings and ring from the Bamboo in silver collection.
Post that we set off to visit the factory called ‘Saraswati silver‘. It was a short drive from the Celluk jewellery lane and the place is somewhere deep inside a village. Here I saw the actual stuff getting made. I saw rows and rows of silversmiths intent on creating lovely silver jewels. The finishing areas, the polishing corners, there were people weaving silver chains, some of the workers setting stones inside silver..it was all very mesmerising. A Proper jewellery makers workshop complete with the hustle and bustle that was missing in the staged workshops in Jl Raya Celluk.
This place also has a huge shop floor area where there are hundreds of designs on display. The place was packed with Europeans (Looks like its pretty popular amongst them) who had mostly come on self driven scooters and knew the place unlike me who was brought there by a cabbie. I selected lots of trinkets from here and found the prices extremely reasonable.
Below: A few of my purchases
This pretty much summed up my silver shopping for this trip to Bali. A few tips though for fellow travellers:-
- Most guided tours will take you to places that have artificially inflated rates because of the commissions involved. So be aware of that while purchasing as part of these tours. Do bargain to at least 50% of the marked prices.
- Cab drivers will take you to places they have commissions at but you can always reject a few places outright and be very firm.
- The average price of a silver ear ring will start at 1,00,000 Indonesian Rupiah and the bigger danglers will be around 1,50,000 to 2,50,000 Rupiah mostly. So bargain accordingly
- Try not to buy from the first store you see. Surf at least 2 to 3 stores before getting a hang of pricing. (thats how I compared Seminyak to Celluk)
Most importantly get a hang of the place and then make your purchase wisely. I ended up buying stuff that is very hard to get in India. I also think that I have payed a reasonable price too for most stuff. This pretty much sums up my silver shopping in Bali and I must say it was incredible! Happy Shopping!