Reflection collection, mindful jewelry : The beauty that transcends the actual sense of sight

 

“When we go shopping, it is difficult to choose an item because there are many options available and we cannot rely on seeing a variety of products, as the majority of customers can. On one occasion we were interested in buying rings, which for us means being able to touch and feel the items. We almost feel sorry for the shop assistants because if there are many rings, we would wish to touch and examine each one, making it a difficult situation for the seller to manage.” This is a comment  from visually impaired individuals from Thailand Association of the Blind who participated in a workshop with Stories of Silver for the “Touching beauty, silvery nights” project in 2023. The workshop has since evolved into a proper collection of silver jewelry combined with gemstones called “Reflection” –  the first collection designed in collaboration with visually impaired individuals who enjoy wearing, choosing, buying or simply having jewelry.

The original idea for this collection was initiated by Joy, Titapa Tanskul and Lucija Perko, the founders of Stories of Silver, with the central concept that seeing and perceiving beauty in things does not necessarily require only the sense of sight but also encompasses the sense of touch in perception of a jewelry item. It’s a form of ‘seeing’ that bears a profound depth in another dimension.

Stories of Silver is a brand of handmade silver jewelry rooted in the traditions and cultural wisdom of the Karen hill tribe people from Phra Bat Huay Tom village (located in Li District, Lamphun province, northern Thailand). This is the only village in Thailand where the community strictly adheres to vegetarianism, practices meditation and leads a simple lifestyle with mindfulness and tranquility as their core values. This innate attitude of the community towards mindfulness – which the brand emphasizes with their creations – is very special because it fosters concentration, enabling the creation of works of art that require time and dedication.

“At Stories of Silver we believe that inner beauty derives from mindfulness, tranquility, simplicity, all of which allow us to perceive the world more profoundly. That’s why we are interested in collaborating with visually impaired individuals because we believe they carry an enhanced sense of consciousness and can detect beauty in a different way and form. It’s a sense of beauty that can be perceived through the sense of touch or through the so-called inner eye, not solely through the ability of the sight.”

“Through conversations during the workshop, we learned about the advantages, disadvantages, and perspectives of visually impaired individuals regarding jewelry, especially bracelets, which can be challenging to wear and may slip off. Jewelry emanating subtle sounds and carrying significant meanings thus to be considered auspicious, has developed into something particularly special to the participants. They expressed a desire for design bracelets, rings or earrings that would be stylish, easily wearable for daily life, or suitable for work, as they can adapt to various occasions throughout the day.

Prototypes of various jewelry pieces were produced as a result of the collaborative workshop. These include silver bracelets adorned with gemstones carrying positive meanings for the wearers (such as tourmaline, amethyst, ametrine or aquamarine), combined with handmade pure silver components crafted by the Phra Bat Huay Tom community silversmiths. What makes them especially distinct is the use of a sliding knot pull-string system instead of the usual clasps, which are proving challenging for visually impaired individuals to manage on their own. The pull-string closure not only simplifies the process of wearing but also makes it more accessible, allowing individuals to put them on by themselves without assistance, at the same time reducing the risk of losing the bracelet while wearing it!

The collaboration between Stories of Silver and Thailand Association of the Blind received positive feedback from both visually impaired individuals and others. As for the visually impaired, they are the ones who provide others with the opportunity to experience beauty beyond what can be seen with the eyes. It also forwards the idea of designing jewelry suitable for all wearers, not just visually impaired individuals. It’s about bridging the gap between the visually impaired and those who are not, with mindfulness being the core thought of the whole project. Moreover, everyone can contribute to donating white canes to visually impaired individuals in need, as 19% of the proceeds from each product sold in this collection is donated through Thailand Association of the Blind for purchasing white canes for the visually impaired community. 

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