The History and Tradition of Jewelry Making in Nepal

Oversized jewelry is often worn by women from Tibet and Nepal. This jewelry, while beautiful, is often rustic, with uneven edges. A closer look will reveal that this jewelry is made, not by a machine, but by hand.

To appreciate the workmanship of Nepalese jewelry, it is important to understand the history of the craft. Many of the jewelry craftsmen in Nepal are actually from Tibet. They fled from Tibet to Nepal when the Chinese took over Tibet in the 1950s. Descendants of these craftsmen continue the Tibetan jewelry-making tradition in Nepal today. Furthermore, many who make this traditional jewelry are women, not men. In both Tibet and Nepal, jewelry is important in dress, spirituality, and life. Tibetan and Nepalese jewelry also protects the wearer like an amulet, and most of the metals and stones are believed to have unique properties.

Nepalese jewelry is commonly made from copper or silver, but it can also be made from gold. Most pieces of Nepal jewelry are quite heavy, due to the quantities of metal used to make each piece. This jewelry is often sold by the gram.

Turquoise and coral are the most common stones used in Nepalese jewelry. Turquoise stands for the sky and the sea. Other stones common in Nepal jewelry include lapis lazuli, tiger eye, garnet, and agate. Many bracelets and necklaces are also made from yak bone.

Many piece of Nepalese jewelry are actually representations of Sanskrit words. These words carry particular meaning for the wearer of the jewelry. The symbol for Om is often incorporated into jewelry. Om is the sound the universe makes as the planets travel through space. This sound has relaxing and healing properties. Wearing this symbol reminds the wearer of the peace that can be found by keeping harmony with Om.

The most common mantra on Tibetan and Nepalese jewelry is the mantra, om mani padme hum. This mantra literally means, hail to the jewel in the lotus. The eight auspicious symbols are also popular symbols in Buddhist jewelry from Nepal. The ten-fold powerful mantra symbol (the Kalachakra mantra symbol) is also popular. Bracelets carved from three metals are said to have healing properties.

Dzi beads, or God beads are a very important part of Buddhist jewelry. Use of these beads can be traced back to 1000 B.C. These beads come in different shapes and sizes, each one capable of serving a different spiritual function. Dzi beads have the power of amulet, which means they carry sacred powers. Some are used to protect the wearer from evil spirits. Others protect against natural disaster, or increase energy levels. Some will bring good reputation and some promote decency.

This culture of jewelry making has been around for centuries, and has a long an rich history among the people of Nepal and Tibet. In both Nepal and Tibet, jewelry stops being something ‘fashionable’ and is also spiritual.

Jewelry-Making DIY Basics – What is a Lobster Claw Clasp?

Those who works with jewelry supplies and beading projects may forget that not everyone knows all the terminology of jewelry making components. Learning the terminology of jewellery-making supplies will help you to communicate your desires for jewelry components to your local bead store, your jewelry designer or your jewelry supply vendor.

Handmade artisan jewelry, mass-market costume jewelry and fine jewelry frequently uses lobster claw clasps to fasten jewelry and to enhance jewelry appearance.

What is a lobster claw clasp?

“Lobster claw” is a term often used generically for a family of clasps having triggers that open and close. Lobster claw clasps primarily hold two ends of a jewelry piece together by locking the clasp trigger around a jump ring or through a link of chain on the opposite end of a necklace, bracelet or anklet. Some jewelry makers will use lobster claw clasps to attach charms or, if the lobster claw has a fancier design, to act as a visual centerpiece in the front of a necklace.

Jewelry purists will tell you that lobster claw clasps have long, straight oval shapes. Pelican clasps, specialty trigger clasps, are curved specialty trigger clasps with the trigger on the outer convex surface. More symmetrical teardrop shapes describe oval trigger or rounded trigger clasps. Balloon clasps, with a longer oval shape and thinner construction, often require less metal than a traditional oval trigger clasp; therefore, balloon clasps will weigh less than a similarly sized lobster claw or trigger clasp. Other specialty clasp shapes include heart trigger clasps, elephant trigger clasps and cat trigger clasps. lobster claw finding

Swivel clasps, a style of oval trigger clasp where the base rotates separately from the rest of the claw, may offer the wearer more comfort by giving another “degree of freedom” to the bracelet, necklace or anklet.

Precious metal jewelry clasps in the United States must carry quality stamps to indicate their precious metal content per Federal Trade Commission guidelines. Lobster claw metal type will generally match a dominant metal in the jewelry piece. Lobster claw materials in the United States will most often fall into the following categories:

Platinum
Palladium
Gold: 18 karat, 14 karat, 12 karat in yellow gold, white gold, green gold, rose gold
Gold-Filled: base metal with karat gold mechanically and thermally bonded to visible and wear surfaces
Silver: sterling silver (.925 silver) including argentium silver and blackened silver
Titanium
Surgical Steel
Lead-free Brass, usually plated with gold, silver, copper, imitation rhodium, gunmetal, and optionally antiqued or oxidized

Some designers and consumers consider lobster claws as less stylish than toggles. However, lobster claw clasps usually offer more secure fastening than do toggles because toggle bars may slip out of their loops, even if the pieces are appropriately sized to the wearers. The most common flaws of lobster claws, more common with inexpensive costume jewelry clasps, are:

A lobster claw trigger that sticks
A trigger with a spring that “pops”
A lobster claw base with little strength which fatigues and breaks with ungentle wire wrapping or wearing

Jewelry makers learn the merits of each type of lobster claw by experience — judging the size, weight, cost, appearance and ease-of-use with respect to their vision for different jewelry pieces. There is no one perfect lobster claw design for all jewelry applications. Fortunately, there are many different designs of lobster claws to accommodate the needs and budgets of amateur and expert jewellery makers.