The Return of Artisan Gold in Myanmar

The Return of Artisan Gold in Myanmar


Nowadays, gold jewelry is mainly machine-made, but an NGO from the country of Myanmar (Asia) will start a project next month to revive their traditional heritage of gold crafting together with greener mining techniques.

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Gold with ancient tradition

Gold is everywhere in Myanmar. Even though its goldsmithing tradition dates back over 2,000 years ago, gold is currently more of a currency than craft. When gold started to be viewed as currency rather than craft, Myanmar began to lose its centuries-old goldsmith tradition.

But one NGO is bringing this heritage back.

Discovery of a goldsmithing community

Myanmar's market is full of cheap jewelry, and 98% of gold jewelry sold is machine-made. That is why the NGO Turquoise Mountain planned a project in conjunction with Suu Foundation to revive the capital’s heritage: the gold craft industry.

Political and economic instability has transformed gold into the only reliable currency. People buy gold as an investment, and they’re unwilling to pay for craftsmanship.”

Natalie Ortiz from Turquoise Mountain.

However, they encountered a goldsmithing community which was producing coins as early as the 6th century.

Reviving the gold craft industry

The NGO has a clear mission before the rise of machine-made jewelry kills the community: to reinterpret traditional designs for the contemporary market.

Gold is extremely rich in color in the country, and its people have used unique, ancient techniques for hundreds of years now. For that reason, Turquoise Mountain will support two communities in upgrading their mining practices, like abandoning the traditional use of mercury in favor of a greener technique to extract gold from rock.

Gold remains a vital source of income.