At the home of Rameshwar Risal in the village of Sunargaon (Goldsmith Village) on the edge of Nepal’s capital city - Kathmandu, every day begins with a cup of steaming milk tea. Most Nepalis like to begin work early, surviving on tea until about 10am when the morning meal of rice is taken. But the first duty of every day, even before tea, is to wash up and perform a simple ritual puja, or worship, asking the gods for their blessing.
The workshop is located on the ground floor of the house, and most of the men making the jewelry are members of his extended family. Rameshwar opens the safe, distributes the silver and stones, and work begins in earnest. Each member of the atelier concentrates on a certain stage of the production, some fashioning granulation or silver wires, others setting the gemstones by hand, others busy filing or polishing the finished pieces.
As the day progresses, another meal will be served at mid-afternoon, followed by a leisurely break. As the heat of the day subsides, everyone resumes their place at the workbenches and continues the production until early evening. The ambience is remarkably co-operative, each member of the team contributing their skills towards the common goal of producing fine quality silver jewelry, taking pride in the workshops reputation. As the radio plays the popular tunes, conversation and laughter helps pass the time with ease.
As evening turns to night Rameshwar closes the workshop and his family disperses to visit friends, take in a movie, or enjoy a drink at the local establishment.
Unlike the mechanized production so common elsewhere, jewelry crafting in Nepal retains strong traditional elements of family and teamwork. Perhaps that’s how the craftsmen who partner with Himalayan Gems can create such a superior product entirely by hand.